|Subject: Tempo: Don't Scratch a Back that
Tempo Magazine February 04 - March 10, 2003
Don't Scratch a Back that isn't Itching
A United Nations body in Timor Leste has charged several Indonesian generals with human rights violations following the independence referendum. But Xanana Gusmao does not support the move.
THE man with a disturbed expression came down the airplane steps. He did not look up, and there was not a trace of a smile on his face. With the sun beating down on Dili's Nocolau Lobato Airport, the Timor Leste President, Ray Kala Xanana Gusmao, was clearly not happy. Last Friday, near the steps of the Merpati Nusantara Airlines plane that had brought him from Bali, he coolly greeted several Timor Leste officials, among them Prime Minister Mari Alklatiri, speaker of the national parliament Gutteres and Foreign Minister Ramos Horta. Several ministers, journalists and airport officials held their breaths. "The president is very angry," whispered a journalist in the local Tetun language.
President Xanana, 57, was deeply disappointed. While attending the Conference of Non-Aligned Countries in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the previous Tuesday, he had received startling news. The Serious Crimes Unit (SCU), a UN body giving assistance to the courts in Timor Leste, had started criminal proceedings against seven generals from TNI (the Indonesian Military) and one former Indonesian civilian official. Based on the body's investigations, the eight people were believed to be responsible for the violence in East Timor following the 1999 independence referendum. The UN organized the referendum to determine whether the people of East Timor wanted to stay with Indonesia, or to go their own way.
But it was not the crimes of the generals that made Xanana so angry. The Serious Crimes Unit had issued their charges without coordinating with the Timor Leste Government beforehand. "Don't wreck the good relations between Timor Leste and Indonesia," growled Xanana. After speaking to journalists, Xanana called Prime Minister Mari Alklatiri and Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro. They held an emergency meeting at the presidential office at Kai Koli, Dili.
The SCU charges were no trivial matter. The body will bring the case before a special UN panel. They sent an official letter to the Indonesian Attorney General's Office (AGO) asking them to present the eight defendants in a Dili court, and contacted Interpol, asking that the men be arrested if they attempted to travel outside Indonesia.
The eight men are General (ret) Wiranto (former defense minister/TNI commander), Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim (former head of the TNI special team in East Timor), Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri (former commander of the Operation Command/Emergency Military Authority in East Timor), Maj. Gen. Adam Damari (former commander of the Udayana Area Military Command), Col. Suhartono Suratman (former commander of the Military District 164, East Timor), Col. Mohammad Noer Muis (former commander of the Military District 164, East Timor), Lt. Col. Yayat Sudradjat (former commander of the Tribuana VIII Taskforce) and former Governor of East Timor, Abilio Jose Osorio Soares.
All are accused of being responsible for vile crimes: murder, intimidation and expelling pro-independence Timorese. The charge sheet records more than 280 murders in 40 incidents-10 of them major attacks-carried out by pro-Jakarta militias with the full knowledge of those charged. "According to the SCU, from statements of witnesses and various documents, the suspects gave assistance, issued orders and funded the [pro-Jakarta] militias," said Attorney General Monteiro.
There is a basis for these accusations. The unit's accusations refer to the statements of 1,500 people that they interviewed over the past three years. A staff of 40 at the international body worked hard in turns to gather evidence. The charges, running to 400 pages, were drawn up and are about to be handed over to the court.
One event the SCU looked into was the incident at the Suai Church on September 6, 1999. Pro-independence Timorese had been using the church as a shelter. On that day, the army and pro-Jakarta militias suddenly arrived and sprayed the crowd with bullets. The refugees panicked and bodies fell. At least 30 people died, including women and children. Three pastors were also killed. Another attack occurred at Liquica at the village of Cailaco, Bobonaro regency in Dili, and at several other places (see Soldiers Smeared with Blood?)
The accused generals were surprised. Two days after the charges were announced, Wiranto called a sudden press conference. "It's not possible I ordered murders. You can ask other military officers," he said. (See interview with General Wiranto.
On the previous Tuesday, seven generals met to discuss what they should do. A day later, Wiranto and "his men" from the Institute for Indonesian Democracy-a non-governmental organization set up by the former TNI commander-had a meeting at the NGO's office on Jalan Teluk Betung, Jakarta. "We discussed matters relating to Wiranto. We put together a strategy to oppose [negative] opinions currently being directed at him," said Herman Ibrahim, a retired military officer who attended the meeting.
Although the generals have denied them, allegations against these officers are nothing new. The accusations in the SCU charges are also nothing special. At the moment, the ad hoc human rights court in Jakarta is trying several senior officers accused of human rights violations in Timor Leste. The Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations in East Timor has also questioned them. The result? "At the very least, Wiranto knew [of the scorched earth policy in Timor Leste]," says Munir, a member of the commission.
The ad hoc court is the result of a compromise between the Indonesian Government and the UN, which wanted to set up a court to be known as the International Crime Tribunal for East Timor. A similar body was set up to try former leaders in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
So why is the SCU being so obstinate? They view Jakarta as not being serious. Wiranto, for example, has been mentioned from the start. Although the National Human Rights Commission has recommended Wiranto be put on trial, the AGO has not drawn up charges. "The prosecution service has made other senior officials fall flat on their faces by protecting that one official," Hikmahanto Juwana, an expert on international law from the University of Indonesia told Ardi Bramantyo from TEMPO.
According to Hikmahanto, legally, the UN body in Timor Leste can set up a human rights court for the generals. But there is a technical problem: Indonesia and Timor Leste do not yet have an extradition treaty. Apart from that-and this also weakens the effectiveness of the SCU charges-nothing has happened yet about the open conflict between Xanana and Unmiset (United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor). This organization was set up last May based on a UN Security Council resolution to help with matters of administration and political stability in the country.
Although the SCU was set up by the UN, it is officially part of the AGO. The SCU chairman is Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro himself. At present, three local and five international prosecutors work for the SCU. Under them are several local and foreign volunteers.
The SCU was set up based on regulations No. 16/2001 and No. 26/2001 of Untaet-a UN body formed to support the transition government in East Timor. Its job was to organize the implementation of UN resolution No. 1272/1999 to investigate crimes against humanity that had taken place in East Timor.
According to Monteiro, the SCU is already dealing with all matters relating to crimes against humanity. But it is unclear why after the charges against the generals were reported in the mass media, the UN body seems to want to wash its hands of the affair. "Unmiset was ordered to remove all UN logos at the Attorney General's Office," said Monteiro. The charge sheets, which are usually signed by Siri Frigard, the deputy attorney general from Australia who is handling cases of crimes against humanity, must now be signed by Monteiro. "Unmiset should not get involved in this case," said the attorney general angrily.
Unfortunately, as of the end of last week, none of the UN officials in Timor Leste were prepared to comment. Siri Frigard flew to Australia for a holiday in the middle of last week.
There is nothing wrong with the UN surrendering its authority to the Timor Leste Government. In any case, the UN's presence in Timor Leste is temporary, and sooner of later it will have to leave. A TEMPO source at the Timor Leste AGO says that Monteiro is in fact overwhelmed by his duty to charge the generals. What is more, President Xanana has not wanted this matter to be raised from the beginning. Xanana's reason is Timor Leste needs Indonesian help to improve the economy. "What the families of the victims need more is economic improvement, not trials," said Xanana. He said that the plan to put the Jakarta generals on trial is something that is not necessary. "Don't scratch a back that isn't itching," he said, quoting a parable.
Xanana's statement means that for the time being, the generals can breathe again. Furthermore, Megawati's government does not want to "surrender" Wiranto and friends to the Dili court. "There is no international court to examine the cases of human rights abuses is East Timor," says Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.
Now responsibility is on the shoulders of the ad hoc court in Jakarta. Whatever happens, the crimes against humanity committed by senior officers must be investigated. However long it takes.
Arif Zulkifli, A. Manan, Darmawan Sepriyossa (Jakarta), Alexandre Assis (Dili)
Soldiers Smeared with Blood?
A number of TNI officers are accused of involvement in crimes against humanity in Timor Leste. What were their `sins'?
BAUCAU, 150 kilometers east of East Timor capital Dili. Dozens of domestic and foreign journalists gather in the jungle at the edge of town. On that day, August 18, 1999, Forcas Armados de Libertacao Nacional de Timor Leste (Falintil), the East Timor Freedom Army, assembled journalists for a press conference to celebrate their 24th anniversary. The eyes of the world turned to that location.
Away from the eyes of journalists, on the same day, a special plane carrying President B.J. Habibie's party landed at Dili's Komoro airport. Traveling with the president were ABRI (Indonesian Armed Forces) commander Gen. Wiranto, commander of the Udayana Area Military Command Maj. Gen. Rachmat Damiri and several other officers. That afternoon, the group from Jakarta met with approximately 150 pro-autonomy (meaning pro-Jakarta) militias at the Dharma Wanita Building in Dili.
One member of the pro-Jakarta militia who was present at the meeting gave an important account of what happened. The Jakarta government via President Habibie gave an order. He told all the militia leaders to "take a stand" if the pro-autonomy group lost in the August 30 referendum. "If we lose, not one stone may be left," says a source quoting the president. Meaning what? "East Timor must be razed to the ground," says the same source. Gen. Wiranto stood upright perfectly still listening to Habibie's statement.
As night approached, the president and his party returned to Jakarta. The order became a guide for the pro-Jakarta militia leaders. "Not one stone may be left in Dili, clearly that's an order," said chief of staff of the Integration Struggle Force, Hermenio da Costa, to TEMPO at the Dili Media Center on August 25, 1999.
Did officials from Jakarta give their blessing to the mass killings that took place in East Timor in 1999? That is the conclusion of the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU), a UN body that works to assist the Timor Leste Government investigate crimes against humanity in East Timor. In the list of charges, they conclude that the generals are responsible for 280 murders in 40 separate incidents that left thousands dead in 1999.
But the story of the presidential order did not come from the SCU charge sheet. It came from statements made by militia members. The Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations says that the case that the generals were involved has been strengthened by documents from Jhoni Lumintang, who at the time was the army deputy chief of staff. "The document has only one paragraph, but the order is clear. Take preventative, coercive, and repressive measures and withdraw troops," says Munir, a member of the Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations.
A follow-up meeting took place at President Habibie's house in Patra Kuningan, South Jakarta. In that meeting, says the same militia source, the president once again explained the "stand" to be taken if the pro-autonomy side lost.
It is not surprising to hear the deputy commander of the Life or Death for Indonesia Battalion Militia (Mahidi), Nemecio Lopes de Carvalho, say that the violence took place because of orders from the center (Jakarta). "If we had refused to carry them out, ABRI members would have finished us off. This is because in the militia, there were ABRI soldiers wearing militia clothing," says Nemecio.
The formation of the pro-Jakarta militias began in 1998. At the time, the Indonesian Army was cornered by the news and criticism as a result of their violent actions since the November 12, 1991, Santa Cruz incident. After that, the militias grew like mushrooms in the rainy season. Apart from Mahidi, there was the Red and White Iron militia as well as several others.
According to the SCU, the militias were the tip of the spear in the ensuing violence. In the April 6, 1999 attack on the Liquica Church-according to SCU documents-the militias were supported by the commander of the Udayana Military Area Command, Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri. Adam sent an order by telegram to the commander of the Wiradharma Military District, Col. Suhartono Suratman, that the Indonesian Military and police give support to the pro-Jakarta militias attacking the church. Adam Damiri was also involved in the attack on the Dili home of Manuel Carrascalao on April 17, 1998. He is also seen as doing nothing to prevent the violence of September 5-6, 1999, in the dioceses of Dili and Suai shortly after the result of the independence referendum was published.
Tono Suratman denies being involved in the incidents at Liquica and Dili. He says that at the time of the attack on Liquica Church, he was in Manatuto. "I received a report from the deputy commander by radio that violence was raging. The violence was triggered by shooting that came from inside the church," says Tono in his book, For my Country: A Portrait of the Struggle in East Timor.
Tono also knows nothing about the violence at Manuel Viegas Carrascalao's home. At the time, he says he was receiving an envoy from the European Union at the home of the commander of the Area Military Command. "I received a report from the District Military Command by radio about the violence," he continues. Tono also denies all of the charges he is facing at the ad hoc human rights court. "We tried to calm down the masses and control the situation to stop the violence continuing." In court, through his attorney Col. Setiawan, Adam Damiri denied all of the prosecution's charges.
What were General Wiranto's "sins"? He is accused of bringing into being the idea of working together with the pro-Jakarta militias. The defense and security minister is accused of channeling funds via Governor Abilio Osório Soares to buy weapons and to pay for their operational costs," SCU prosecutor Stuart Alford told journalists.
Alford admits there is no direct evidence of Wiranto's involvement in the setting up of the militias. "We don't have evidence that indicates he talked about or gave direct orders to form the militias. But he had authority over all TNI personnel who were in East Timor in 1999," said Alford.
In fact, Wiranto has repeatedly told the press, the international community and the Timor Leste leadership that the militia groups involved in crimes were under the command of TNI. "But Wiranto allowed them to commit crimes without being punished," said Alford.
The basis of the charges against Wiranto is the precedent of responsibility of command set in other countries. As in the case of the war crimes trial of the former leader of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, in The Hague, Holland, he is considered guilty if he allowed his subordinates to commit crimes. The same thing happened in the mass killings in Rwanda. So, "All the military officers who committed crimes against humanity in East Timor were the responsibility of Wiranto as TNI commander," said Alford.
But Wiranto denies all charges. "I am confident enough to swear that I never thought about, wanted, planned, let alone ordered crimes such as murder, torture, kidnapping and expulsions. I did things to try and stop them," he said at a press conference at the Crown Hotel, Jakarta last Thursday.
Wiranto made no denials about the funds. He admitted receiving Rp10 billion from the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) on May 31 and September 5, 1999. But he denied that the money was used to pay militias. "The money was used to support general security, including safeguarding the 1999 General Election and not specially for East Timor," he told the trial of the Bulog case.
What about the involvement of President Habibie? The SCU has not gone that far. Former foreign minister Ali Alatas, who was actively involved in the decision over East Timor, doubts the president took such a rash move as strengthening civilian militias. "I think that could only have been done by individuals within TNI," he says.
Similar doubts were expressed by Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Habibie's former spokeswoman. "There was no plan for scorched earth action in East Timor. I see [the killings] as more of a failure on the ground rather than something controlled from the center," she said. Habibie, who is now living in Germany, could not be reached for confirmation.
Admitted or not, the mass disturbances in 1999 happened. It is this tragedy that the UN body in Timor Leste will correct-something the Indonesian Government is fighting tooth and nail to prevent.
Ahmad Taufik, Abdul Manan, Alexander Axiss and Titi Irawati (Dili), Jeffriantho (Kupang)
Wiranto: "What do they want me in Dili for?"
WIRANTO is being plagued by two problems these past two months. The former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander was accused a month ago of being behind the students' anti-government protest rallies. A week ago, from Dili, capital of Timor Leste, came charges that President Suharto's former aide-de-camp was proven responsible for human rights violations during the 1999 referendum.
Wiranto, 56, refuted all charges in two press conferences last week. He also responded to TEMPO's questions in writing, as follows:
Were you shocked when you heard the news from East Timor?
No, I am no longer shocked. There have been many people who continue to raise the charges of human rights violation in East Timor against me. Those charges come from outside as well as inside the country.
What are you doing about those charges?
The first thing I do is consult with experts and lawyers who have been with me all this time. Our conclusion is that this is the maneuvering of certain people. It is not Unmiset (United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor) which wants to send me to the UN court but a body established by UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor), known as the Serious Crime Unit (SCU). This body is given the task to provide administrative support to the East Timor Attorney General. The UN itself has totally ceded the case to the Government of Indonesia to be dealt with. The case is currently being processed.
Is it true that you approved the establishment of a pro-integration militias after their defeat during the referendum?
TNI and the police at that time did not acknowledge the word militia. What we recognized were the pro-integration or pro-indepependence groups. Both have political and military factions. Both of them have been involved in the conflict for decades. These two groups are generally known as militias.
From the beginning I have never approved of violence. They attack each other. I confronted the two groups about this during a meeting hosted by the Bishop of Dili on April 21, 1999, which was televised and broadcast all over the world.
To those who fought for integration, I explained that the UN's decision on the referendum has been acknowledged by the Indonesian Government. That had to be respected. There should be no more armed conflicts against this decision, because they would sure to be confronting the international community, as well as with the Indonesian security forces. I said all this during a dialog with pro-integration groups at the Komoro airport following the announcement of the results of the referendum.
Didn't you try to prevent the violence that followed?
Let me put it this way. If there are still fighting and violence in Maluku, Poso and Aceh, does that mean there were no preventive steps? Because there are still muggers, robberies and criminals in Jakarta, does not mean the police force are doing nothing.
As armed forces chief and minister for defence and security I did a number of things. First I pressured the two parties into signing the peace document and attend the disarmament from both sides. Then, together with KomnasHAM, to form the Committee on Peace & Stability which would monitor the peace, including the disarmament, strengthen the police force there and execute contingency plans for worst-case scenarios. Then I would activate military emergency situation to contain the violence and prevent a civil war, like the time the Portuguese left that country in 1975. I did all that.
About the violence, even the UN said: "In hindsight, it should be acknowledged that conflict and bloodshed were difficult to prevent after the referendum." That was also cited by John B. Haseman, former US military attaché in Indonesia. Even now we still see some violence in Dili.
Are you prepared to be brought to Dili?
As what? Visitor, tourist or detainee? If it is in relation to the law, I have gone through the entire legal process in Indonesia, which is recognized and respected by the UN. Why should I go to Dili?
What will you do now?
I will continue to be a witness in the ad hoc trial of human rights violations currently going on the Central Jakarta District Court.
Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/