Subject: WP: Tribunal Sought for East Timor, Filomena dos Reis


Washington Post Wednesday, March 6, 2002; Page A15

Tribunal Sought for East Timor

Filomena Barros Dos Reis worked for years as an administrative assistant for the Indonesian administration ruling the annexed territory of East Timor, but she also led an underground life investigating human rights abuses. She and a small group of men and women, sleeping in different houses every night and carrying religious materials to pass themselves off as nuns and priests, risked their lives to keep track of widespread rights violations against their fellow East Timorese.

Dos Reis was in the United States last week promoting the establishment of an international tribunal to bring justice to her small, war-scarred country, whose vote for independence in August 1999 precipitated a violent rampage by the Indonesian military and its local militia allies. Since then, East Timor has been under a transitional U.N. administration. It will celebrate its independence day on May 20.

In an interview Friday, she said that several top Indonesian military officers would probably never be brought to justice if such a court is not established. The U.N. Serious Crimes Unit cannot get access to the Indonesian military; every extradition request issued by the world body has been denied by the Indonesian government, she said.

"The Indonesian military still considers the East Timorese as animals, but our people only want justice," she said. "We wanted freedom, we had to fight. Now we want justice and we have to fight, but I believe one day, justice will come."

U.S. and East Timorese officials are sensitive about upsetting Indonesia, which has sought to make limited improvements. But with certain militia leaders living in neighboring western Timor under Indonesian protection, large numbers of refugees will not be eager to return, dos Reis said.

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