Subject: Timor verdicts shows new order's game [+The face of our justice]

also: JP editorial: The face of our justice

The Jakarta Post August 28, 2002

Timor verdicts shows new order's game

Aboeprijadi Santoso, Radio Netherlands, Amsterdam

The controversy on the verdicts on human rights crimes committed in East Timor in 1999 suggests that Timor's painful legacy continues to affect its former occupying country. Indonesia needs to be "liberated" from East Timor.

Lies, after all, cannot -- and should not -- live forever.

In 1992 a Timorese politician, who worked closely with Indonesia's architect of Timor policy, Gen. Ali Moertopo, provided an insider's view on how the New Order prepared an aggression from West Timor in 1975. Jose Martins-III was a warm supporter of Indonesia's cause in East Timor.

He used to talk with Gen. Moertopo and Gen. Benny Moerdani among others about the conflict between the leftist-nationalist movement Fretilin and the UDT. The generals wanted to create a "civil war".

"I told them, the civil-war (in August 1975) was only three days! But (the generals) decided to tell the world that there is a civil-war in (East) Timor when there is no (longer) civil-war at all," Martins told Radio Netherlands in Lisbon in 1992.

Nevertheless, the idea of "civil war" -- i.e. of blowing up the conflict -- in East Timor has since proved to be an effective weapon exploited by Jakarta and seen as "fact" by the media.

The consequences of this discourse cannot be underestimated and affect the public sense of justice.

A descendant of a landowner family, Martins feared Fretilin might jeopardize his interest. But, given Fretilin's popularity, he correctly assumed that the civil war could not have lasted more than a few weeks except with help from outside. The story of 40,000 refugees at the West Timor border was consistent with this civil war myth.

Then the generals resorted to infiltration, persuasion, threats and war of aggression, thereby stimulating the evolving small-scale civil-war. These were pointedly what then president Soeharto, talking to U.S. president Gerald Ford and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger hours before the Dec. 7, 1975 invasion, called in deceptive terms: "how to manage ... a majority wanting unity with Indonesia."

Finally, Jakarta "justified" the invasion by arguing that Indonesia was "invited to bring peace and order to East Timor".

The world -- including then Indonesia's repressed media -- was thus led to believe that basically the problem was not Indonesia, but East Timor's suffering of a chronic, widespread civil war. As the territory was subsequently closed from the outside world for more than a decade, the New Order effectively propagated that the tragedy was of East Timor's own making. It served to deny the legitimacy of the Timorese resistance.

Twenty-three years later, when then president B.J. Habibie offered independence as a second option echoes of the 1970s were visible. Instead special forces members "using Portuguese names, acting like tourists" as in 1975, according to Martins, now the old militias were revived and the new ones trained and armed. Jakarta quickly warned that a referendum would ignite a "civil-war", yet finally agreed with one-man-one-vote.

A strategy of exploding the "civil war" had apparently been set in motion to intimidate the pro-independent supporters, provoke the resistance and sabotage the campaign presumably so as to influence the vote-outcome and the decision of the People's Consultative Assembly on East Timor. Many violent incidents -- more than the five cases selected for trial -- were clearly directed at these aims.

However, the basic ideas remained -- East Timor is sick, a civil-war could erupt any time -- with one big, crucial difference, though, i.e. that the Army now claimed they were unable to control the Timorese militias.

With the source of the problem thus confirmed, the blame should be apportioned accordingly i.e. to the East Timorese. As if to demonstrate this, as early as April 1999, then defense minister and military chief Gen. Wiranto, came to Dili pretending to act as a peace-broker between the pro-Jakarta militias and the Falintil guerilla.

Wiranto's message -- i.e. that not the Indonesian Military (TNI), but the militias were equal to Falintil -- served to justify that the militias remained armed as Falintil refused to be disarmed. At the bottom of this was the view that TNI was the sole legitimate force and Falintil simply domestic rebels rather than an army that resisted a foreign occupation. Until today, Jakarta never officially admits any aggression nor invasion.

The arguments and the perceptions on what happened in East Timor among the judges and the prosecutors basically rests on this very paradigm of 1975 that still dominates the view of the political elite.

In the ad hoc tribunal on human rights, prosecutors described the various violence incidents described as war between the two camps. As Ifdhal Kasim of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) said, by ignoring police or military involvement in creating the conflict, "it's not surprising that the judges acquitted the defendants..." (The Jakarta Post, Aug. 21, 2002)

Yet, various evidence had been abundantly published that the Army facilitated the militias with help of local civilian authorities while the police often acted passively.

True, neighborhoods sympathizing with pro-independent cause were also involved in violence. However, if it were a "civil war", how could the militias freely patrol the city with military vehicles, issuing "exit permits," setting up road blocks, controlling ports, transporting thousands of people, looting shops and killing pro-independent supporters?

And why -- as journalists witnessed -- were there no organized or armed groups of pro-independent supporters on the streets or involved in clashes? East Timor is not Balkan or Rwanda.

A group of observers led by Yeni Rosa Damayanti and Mindo Rajaguguk, who traveled extensively in the period around the referendum, concluded that the emergency, under the command of Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, which was imposed since early September, provided the Army with extra leverage. With the police sidelined, most observers and media gone, the Army joined the militias in persecuting their targets.

Rather than a "civil war", what happened was a systematic state collusion at various levels aiming at persecution, massacres and destruction -- resembling, not Bosnia, but New Order's 1965-1966 massacres, albeit in smaller scale.

To suggest a "civil war" in East Timor as if the civilian authorities and the officers were powerless is a palpable nonsense.

The Jakarta Post

August 28, 2002


The face of our justice

As disappointing as the rulings that came out of the first set of trials of Indonesian government officials and military/police officers accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999, they are hardly surprising. Those who have followed closely the Ad Hoc Human Rights tribunals from the start know that these rulings are the logical consequence of the hearings.

The cases built against the accused were weak and the evidence presented was mostly circumstantial. Predictably, they did not warrant heavy sentences, if at all. Hence, the acquittals against the six officers of the Indonesian Military and the National Police. Only Abilio Soares, the pro-Indonesia former East Timor governor, was found guilty; and even then, he got off with a light sentence of a three years.

It is one thing to understand the "logic" of the legal process in this country, but completely another to meet the universal standard of justice. In the case of the massive violence that was perpetrated in East Timor in 1999, when the territory was under Jakarta rule, that standard of justice clearly has not been fulfilled.

The facts could not be spelled out more clearly that something horrible took place in East Timor. There was widespread killing during the massive campaign of terror and violence conducted by pro-Indonesian forces. The majority of the East Timorese people were forced to flee; virtually every town and village, including East Timor's capital Dili, was destroyed when it became clear that the pro-Indonesian forces in East Timor had lost the UN-sponsored ballot of self-determination.

Investigations by the United Nations determined that a crime against humanity had been committed. The National Commission on Human Rights, in its own probe, corroborated the UN findings and called for the setting up of these human rights tribunals.

There was never any doubt that the security authorities were responsible for the lives of every East Timorese at the time. After all, it was Indonesia which had insisted all along that it alone manage the security aspect, if a ballot of self-determination was to be held in East Timor.

As events proved, the Indonesian security apparatus failed in its duties to maintain security. Moreover, the two official investigations found indications that the security forces not only turned a blind eye to the atrocities by pro-Indonesian militias, but that they also assisted in the campaign.

These militias were set up, armed and trained by our military. They often acted as proxies of the military's interests in East Timor. But what gave the TNI away the most in regard to its possible complicity was the method of destruction used by the pro-Indonesian forces, which fit the "scorched earth" concept drawn up by the Indonesian Military.

The ad hoc trials would have been an opportunity for Indonesia to come clean, to show the world that we, as a nation, are capable of meeting our obligations. With the court rulings, Indonesia has squandered that chance, and, like in 1999, they have provoked another international outcry about our failures; now through the failure of our justice system to deliver justice.

The acquittals of the military and police officers may be seen by some here as serving the national interests and defending our pride. They feel that it was embarrassing enough for the nation to subject these senior officers to the tribunals at all. Their acquittals would spare Indonesia of international indignity.

They could not be more wrong. By failing to make anyone in the security apparatus accountable for the 1999 mayhem, the tribunals have humiliated the whole nation. The message these rulings have sent is that we have failed to live up to our responsibilities, which include protecting lives. Instead of turning Indonesia into a respectable member of the world community, they have turned us into a pariah state.

Even as the cases go through the appeal process, it is still difficult to see how the higher court could overturn the rulings. Based solely on the evidence presented in court, there is not sufficient grounds for the appeal judges to convict the officers. The only hope left is that in hearing these cases, the judges would be driven more by the universal standard of justice, rather than by a narrowly defined sense of nationalism.

The quest for justice is now the main driving force behind a new campaign to bring the Indonesian officers to an international tribunal. Mary Robinson, the UN human rights chief, during her visit to Dili this weekend said she would urge the Security Council to try the Indonesian officers in a UN court.

Robinson faces an uphill struggle in convincing all the five permanent members of the Security Council. Of the Council's three largest permanent members, China and Russia are unlikely to support the call, as they have their own demons (Tibet and Chechnya); the United States, now more concerned about Jakarta's military cooperation in its war on terrorism, could also veto any such proposal. Irrespective of the outcome of Robinson's crusade, however, the motion itself will put Indonesia's poor record of upholding human rights and in delivering justice in the international spotlight once again.

Indonesia may feel secure in the knowledge that it will once again be spared from international wrath for its failings in East Timor in 1999. But can we seriously think that we as a nation will escape from our moral responsibilities? The 1999 mayhem in East Timor will continue to haunt us for as long as we fail to bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice. The sooner we resolve this matter, the better it is for our nation.

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