Subject: CONG: Senate Letter to Powell re. Tribunal for ET

February 1, 2001

The Honorable Colin L. Powell 
Secretary of State 
United States Department of State 
2201 C Street NW 
Washington DC 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

One year ago, the United Nations' team charged with investigating the violent aftermath of the 1999 East Timorese referendum on independence issued a report of its findings. The U.N. International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor found that "the intimidation, terror, destruction of property, displacement and evacuation of people would not have been possible without the active involvement of the Indonesian army, and the knowledge and approval of the top military command." The Commission recommended establishing an international tribunal to try serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity in East Timor.

The wisdom of this recommendation has become increasingly clear, as the Indonesian government has been unable or unwilling to address meaningfully these crimes through its domestic judicial system. To date, no Indonesian military personnel have been held accountable for human rights violations in East Timor. Even those militia leaders slated for prosecution in Indonesia are being tried for atrocities in West Timor, not for their crimes in East Timor. While we continue to support Indonesia's efforts to move forward with domestic prosecutions, all evidence indicates that the obstacles to this approach are currently overwhelming.

We believe that the time has come to pursue the Commission's recommendation. The United States must unequivocally support the establishment of an international tribunal to try those responsible for the campaign of violence that proceeded and followed the East Timorese referendum of 1999. By supporting a tribunal, the U.S. can help bolster democratic reforms and stability in Indonesia by preventing those responsible for destruction and violence from continuing to commit atrocities against Indonesian civilians in Aceh, Papua, and Maluku.

We thank you for your serious consideration and look forward to a response.

Russell Feingold, United States Senator
Tom Harkin, United States Senator
Patrick Leahy, United States Senator
Daniel K. Akaka, United States Senator
Edward M. Kennedy, United States Senator

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