|Subject: Cong: Hall
letter supporting international tribunal
January 28, 2000
The President The White House Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express our strong support for the UN investigation of the atrocities committed against the East Timorese people in East Timor, West Timor and other areas of Indonesia. We urge fervent administration support, especially at this pivotal moment. The Commission of Inquiry set up by the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the request of the Secretary-General has concluded its Geneva session. Their report details systematic intimidation and terror resulting in the murder and injury of many East Timorese. Women were particularly targeted for rape and sexual abuse. Members of the Commission noted great destruction of property as well as physical evidence, including the removal of bodies. Evidence was gathered documenting the involvement of the Indonesian armed forces, and their collusion with militia groups. The Commission of Inquiry reiterated the need to continue investigations to bring those responsible for atrocities to justice.
While we support the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights investigation into the atrocities, we emphasize the need for an independent UN investigation and the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal. The ability of an Indonesian human rights team to independently, neutrally, and thoroughly investigate potential abuses committed by the military is at best questionable, particularly given the high level of military involvement in civil society. The administration of just trials and real sentences for those accused and convicted by the Indonesian team will likely be compromised. Generals are already attempting to thwart the investigation and have demanded that the results of investigations remain closed to the public. The Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association has stated that Indonesia lacks the legal tools necessary to try state officials, and has illustrated this with the fact that Indonesia has not ratified most international legal covenants relating to such issues. We further emphasize the critical need for the UN team to be allowed full access to West Timor, as well as East Timor.
Justice and accountability are important foundations for a new democracy in East Timor, as well as the democratization process in Indonesia. Human rights must be protected and international humanitarian law adhered to, not only for East Timor, but with an eye toward preventing such atrocities in Indonesia in the future. Justice and accountability are also critical to reconciliation and healing in East Timor. Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab has already announced that he will try to stop Indonesian generals from being tried overseas. Substantial United States pressure must be maintained on Indonesia to allow a full independent UN investigation and to cooperate with international trials. We therefore request your strong support for the UN investigation and the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal.
We thank you and look forward to working with you further on this matter.
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