Subject: US lawyers to sue Indonesian general over East Timor involvement

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US lawyers to sue Indonesian general over East Timor involvement

The World Today - Friday, March 31, 2000 12:46

COMPERE: An Indonesian General said to be at the heart of the orchestration of last year's devastation and death in East Timor is being personally sued in the United States for human rights abuses. General Johnny Lermantung [phonetic] was served with a District Court notice of the law suite as he was about to fly out of Washington after a short social visit there.

North America correspondent, Michael Carey, is speaking to Jenny Green, one of the lawyers involved:

JENNY GREEN: Today we served that legal complaint for human rights violations and crimes against humanity against Lieutenant General Johnny Lermantung of the Indonesian military in the Washington DC area.

MICHAEL CAREY: So what physically did that involve?

JENNY GREEN: What involved was presenting him with a copy of the charges against him, and we wound up getting him at the Dallas International Airport, at the gift shop outside the VIP lounge.

MICHAEL CAREY: So you actually had some servers go out there and grab him at the gift shop?

JENNY GREEN: That's correct. They presented him with the papers, and that starts the process at the United States Court.

MICHAEL CAREY: And what was he doing in the United States?

JENNY GREEN: He was actually - it seemed to be part of a public relations tour of sorts. He gave a presentation, talking about reform in the Indonesian military. We received some word, you know, that he was going about town meeting with different US Government officials. You know, we took the opportunity to bring a law suite against him on behalf of victims of the human rights violations which were the result of his policies in East Timor.

MICHAEL CAREY: When you say on behalf of victims, whose cases are you actually operating here?

JENNY GREEN: Well, this case is on behalf of five individuals. Well, actually some of them are no longer alive because they were killed because of their political activities in East Timor. The killings and the attacks, which included beatings and shootings of people, were part of a policy of targeting activists who supported political independence in East Timor in September 1999.

MICHAEL CAREY: And what responsibility do you claim that General Lermantung had for what happened in East Timor after the plebocide?

JENNY GREEN: The specific responsibilities that we had, the information that we have is that he was part of planning the policy of targeting activists and targeting supporters of independence. There was a telegram which went out in - that he signed on 5 May, 1999 which said, "Be prepared to take repressive measures after the ballot if the decision is, in fact, in favour of independence."

MICHAEL CAREY: And what are you seeking here, what sort of redress?

JENNY GREEN: What we're seeking is - in the United States you can claim, you know, both compensatory and punitive monetary damages, so we're seeking a monetary award which will punish him for his activities and hopefully deter other people from the same types of human rights violations. We can also seek other types of relief from the court, a statement of condemnation, you know, that this person is not a member of the reformist military but, in fact, is part of the very act of repression against East Timorese activists.

COMPERE: Jenny Green is a lawyer at the Centre for Constitutional Rights in Washington. She was speaking with Michael Carey.


Last night, as Indonesian General Johny Lumintang was passing through Dulles Airport in Washington, he was served with a lawsuit. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit against Lumintang for his role in devastating human rights abuses in East Timor. The suit was filed on behalf of a mother whose son was killed, a man who was beaten and shot and whose foot had to be amputated, and a man whose father was injured and brother killed.

The lawsuit also cites a June 1999 army manual, also signed by Lumintang, which states that Kopassus intelligence operatives were to be trained in propaganda, kidnapping, terror, agitation, sabotage, infiltration, undercover operations, wiretapping, photographic intelligence and psychological operations. Koppassus operatives were involved in the kidnapping of East Timorese independence activists prior to and after the independence vote.

Guests: Allan Nairn, journalist reporting from Asia. He just left Indonesia, once again defying a military ban against him entering the country.

Jennie Green, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. She filed the lawsuit against Lumintang. Call Center for Constitutional Rights: 212.614.6464.

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