Subject: Churches Statement on East Timor


We are Christian organisations and churches in long-standing partnerships with the Catholic and Protestant Christian congregations in East Timor. We have followed events in this troubled land for many years, and sought to show support and solidarity with our East Timorese brothers and sisters in their constant search for justice, peace, human rights and development.

Occasionally, we have felt compelled to speak out, for example in 1987, when we called for a just settlement to the question of East Timor which involved direct negotiation with the East Timorese. Last year's UN- supervised popular consultation finally enabled the East Timorese people the opportunity to say what they wanted for themselves. The price they have paid for this, however has been unjustly high, and many serious problems threaten the establishment of peace in the future. It is for this reason that we are speaking out now, on the occasion of this donor's meeting.

The Need for Justice 
The fabric of East Timorese society has been torn and weakened by years of warfare waged by an occupying power. The result is a society which is in desperate need of justice, in order to build a lasting, and peaceful culture for the future based on democratic principles, human rights and national reconciliation. In order to give this a chance of success, the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the East Timorese militias and their instigators in the Indonesian national army (TNI) must be adequately prosecuted and the guilty brought to justice without further delay.

While the International community, setting aside the recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, has waited for the Indonesian government to try perpetrators, the defenceless victims of these mostly pre-meditated actions, are struggling to come to terms with huge physical and emotional loss. No healing process can start in the knowledge that perpetrators are at large, and will go unpunished. Without healing, East Timor's unique chance of founding a nation based on higher principles rooted in freedom and equity, will be still-born. Justice is vital not only to East Timor's future, but also to the future of Indonesia, which is also struggling to found a democratic state based on the rule of law. We call for an international ad hoc tribunal in which both Indonesia and East Timor will participate. We call for all suspected perpetrators to be tried, regardless of their military rank.

Since the beginning of the year many of the refugees forcibly expelled from East to West Timor, have returned. However, according to the United Nations, over 100,000 remain in refugee camps, many in situations of squalor and fear. Many families have been separated, and there are reports of children being taken to orphanages in Java and elsewhere. Credible accounts refer to ongoing intimidation from elements of the militia forces which devastated the physical infrastructure of East Timor last year. Following the August killing of three UN workers, and the withdrawal of the international refugee agencies, these people, many of whom are women and children, are now more vulnerable than ever. Recalling UN Security Council Resolutions 1272 and 1319, we call for the immediate and safe return or resettlement of these refugees, having made informed and free decisions on their own wishes for their future livelihoods. In order to expedite this process, we urge the disarmament and separation of militia elements from the refugees in the camps. We call for children, who have been separated from their families to be reunited with their parents.

Let there be justice for the East Timorese, so that there can finally be peace.


Uniting Churches, Netherlands Catholic Institute for International Relations, UK 
Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales) 
Fundaçao Evangelização e Culturas (Portuguese Catholic Bishop's Conference) 
Sol Sem Fronteiras, Portugal 
Christians in Solidarity with East Timor, Australia 
Action des Chrétiens pour L'Abolition de la Torture, France 
ComitéCatholique Contre la Faim et pour le Développment Commission for Justice & Peace in the Netherlands 
Humanitarian Project, USA 
Caritas Belgium 
Korean Catholic Human Rights Committee 
Caritas Coreana - Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea 
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand 
Caritas Sweden (Caritas Sverige) 
The Christian Socialists in Sweden (Broderskapsrörelsen) 
The Roman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Sweden (Justitia et Pax-kommissionen) 
The Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (Kristna Fredsrörelsen) 
Missio - Aachen, Germany 
Development & Peace, Canada 
ASTO, France 
Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace 
Canada-Asia Working Group 
Trocaire, Ireland 
Irish Catholic Council for Justice and Peace 
Centre Lebret, France 
Central Mission Commissariat, Netherlands 
Caritas Europa 
Broederlijk Delen, Belguim 
Flemish Justice and Peace Commission 
Bund de Deutschen Katholischen Jugend (Federation of German Catholic Youth Organisations) 
Kindermissionswerk - Pontifical Mission for Children (Germany) 
Catholic Bishop's Conference of Japan - East Timor Desk 
Misereor, Germany 
Pax Christi International 
Brot fuer die Welt (Bread for the World), Germany 
Pax Romana - ICIMICA

Catherine Scott, Asia Policy Officer, Catholic Institute for International Relations, Unit 3, Canonbury Yard, 190a new North Road, London N1 7BJ Tel: 020 7354 0883 Fax: 020 7359 0017 Web:

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