Subject: LUSA: Dili and Jakarta to set up Commission of Truth and Friendship - PM

15-12-2004 11:04:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-6596835 Temas:

East Timor: Dili and Jakarta to set up Commission of Truth and Friendship - PM

Dili, Dec. 15 (Lusa) - East Timor and Indonesia are planning a Truth and Friendship Commission to "uncover the true nature" of human rights abuses committed during Dili`s bloody breakaway from the rule of its larger neighbor, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Wednesday.

Speaking after his arrival in Dili from the Indonesian island of Bali, where he attended a meeting between Presidents Xanana Gusmão and Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono of Timor and Indonesia respectively, Alkatiri said leaders of the two nations agreed they "need to resolve some outstanding questions".

Indonesian media reported that Gusmão and Yudhoyono, holding their first meeting Tuesday, agreed to forget past violence and focus of economic cooperation and border issues.

"The feeling we have is that the democratization process in both countries is advancing steadily, but it is necessary to resolve some pending issues. One of these matters is the crimes of 1999", said Alkatiri.

Timorese voted overwhelmingly to end Jakarta's brutal 24-year rule in 1999, triggering a rampage by militia gangs backed by the Indonesian military.

Up to 1,500 people died in the violence and about 75% of Timor`s infrastructures were destroyed during Indonesia's scorched earth pullout.

The Dili government has been reticent about pushing for justice for those responsible for war crimes committed during the new nation's painful birth, preferring instead to foster improved ties with its former occupier and to avoid endangering Jakarta's political stability by antagonizing Indonesia's powerful military.

"The people of Timor, who suffered, know what happened. The Indonesian people need to know the truth", said Dili`s head of government.

"It is necessary for the two governments to work honestly together to find the truth with the aim of consolidating friendship between the two nations so that citizens in either country are perfectly aware why this or that decision is taken".

The proposed Truth and Friendship Commission will now be submitted by Dili and Jakarta's foreign ministers to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Ananan, who will be regularly briefed on its work, said Alkatiri.

The Timorese leader did not offer any timescale for the operation of the new bilateral commission, noting that Dili's own Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation has still not concluded its work.

He said he expected Timor's aid partners to fund the new body, which would also address issues such as unresolved land and sea borders between the two nations, the situation of citizens of East Timor living in Indonesian West Timor and compensation for Jakarta's nationals who left property and goods in Timor.

EL/CJB Lusa

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