Subject: IHT: Justice in Indonesia (letter)

Justice in Indonesia


Wednesday, August 13, 2003 Justice in Indonesia

Regarding the report "Jakarta bomb tied to Islamic group" (Aug. 7): If the international community wants to see Indonesia rein in its military, the United Nations should set up an international tribunal to bring to justice the military and political leaders responsible for serious crimes in East Timor.

The United Nations put off setting up a tribunal in order to give Jakarta a chance to try its own citizens. That experiment has clearly failed. The court had a severely restricted mandate and the prosecution presented a distorted history of events during East Timor's 1999 independence referendum. The truth is that the military created and controlled the militia, and the military directed and carried out the attacks on civilians prior to the vote and implemented a scorched-earth policy after.

Although the Jakarta court has convicted some, the sentences were extremely light. Indonesian military behavior has changed little, as shown by its ongoing brutal campaign in Aceh.

An international tribunal, covering the entire period of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor from 1975 on, should step in where the Jakarta court has failed. A tribunal would provide the many East Timorese victims of crimes against humanity a chance to obtain genuine justice. By holding accountable those responsible for these crimes, a tribunal would have the added benefit of discouraging Indonesian officers from terrorizing their own people.

John M. Miller, New York

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