Subject: CONG: Statement by Rep. Kennedy


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For additional information, contact: Tuesday, September 5, 2000 Larry Berman (401) 729-5600

WASHINGTON - On the one-year anniversary of the results of East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence being announced, Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) is calling on the Clinton Administration to keep the pressure on Indonesia to cease the violence against the East Timorese people.

Kennedy is also calling for the creation of an international human rights tribunal to seek justice against the Indonesian militia leaders who carried out the mass violence and terror following the vote for independence. Three-quarters of the population was displaced and most of the country's infrastructure was destroyed as militias burned the capital city of Dili. More than 1,000 people were killed after the vote.

Since then, the people of East Timor have begun to successfully rebuild their shattered land under a temporary United Nations' administration. Yet, over 100,000 East Timorese refugees remain trapped in militia-controlled camps in West Timor, where they were driven last year.

"I applaud the bravery and persistence of the East Timorese on this historic anniversary," said Kennedy. "At the same time, I strongly condemn the continuing Indonesian military-supported violence."

Kennedy is a leader in Congress on behalf of the people of East Timor, a former colony of Portugal which had been occupied by the Indonesian government.

"I call on the U.S. Administration to continue its former policy of complete military disengagement with Indonesia's armed forces, and to cease all planned phased re-engagement, until the unacceptable violence has ended and justice has been provided to the people of East Timor, " Kennedy commented. "It is the least we can do to promote peace and reconciliation after all the East Timorese people suffered under twenty-four years of Indonesian occupation."

Kennedy, a strong supporter of a permanent international criminal court, also is concerned about the lack of an international tribunal on the atrocities that occurred last year following the referendum.

"Of great concern to me is the passage of a constitutional amendment in the People's Consultative Assembly that prohibits retroactivity in human rights trials," Kennedy added. "This, in effect, will shield the Indonesian military from any genuine accountability for past crimes. This legislative action reveals the critical necessity for an international human rights tribunal to account for last year's events in East Timor and to bring justice to the region." ###

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