Subject: RT: 1999 E. Timor Rampage: UN to Conduct Inquiry Despite RI/ET Pleas

Also: RT: Indonesia says UN's East Timor inquiry 'redundant'

UN Sets Own Inquiry of 1999 Rampage in East Timor

By Irwin Arieff, Reuters

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 18 (Reuters) - The United Nations will conduct its own inquiry into a 1999 rampage in which Indonesian gangs killed about 1,000 East Timorese, despite pleas from Indonesia and East Timor to leave the probe to them.

The decision by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to go ahead with a review, though announced Friday, was disclosed to the Security Council over a month ago, said U.N. chief spokesman Fred Eckhard.

Indonesia and East Timor, a former Portuguese colony occupied by Indonesia after the end of colonial rule, announced plans Dec. 21 to create a joint commission in hopes of putting behind them any lingering bitterness over the 1999 violence.

The rampage, carried out by gangs supported by elements in the Indonesian army, was triggered by a referendum in which East Timor voted to break free from Jakarta after 24 years of brutal military rule.

Mainly Catholic East Timor finally became independent in May 2002 after 2-1/2 years of U.N. administration, closing the book on centuries of Portuguese colonial rule and an occupation by Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

In setting up a Commission on Truth and Friendship, Indonesia and East Timor had said they hoped to head off a parallel initiative by Annan, who was considering creating his own expert commission to review whether justice was done.

But Annan did not go along with that plan, Eckhard said Friday.

"The secretary-general is of the view that the work of the (U.N.) commission could complement that of the Truth and Friendship Commission, and expresses his hope that the governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste (East Timor) will extend full cooperation to the Commission of Experts," Eckhard said.

The idea for the joint commission stemmed from a dinner meeting in Bali on Dec. 14 between Indonesian President Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono and his East Timorese counterpart Xanana Gusmao, a former guerrilla leader who fought Indonesian rule.

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Reuters, February 19, 2005

Indonesia says UN's East Timor inquiry 'redundant'

Jakarta: Indonesia has described as "redundant" a UN inquiry into a 1999 rampage in which Indonesian gangs killed about 1,000 East Timorese and said it would work within its own commission already established.

Indonesia and East Timor, a former Portuguese colony occupied by Indonesia in the mid-1970s, announced in December they would create a joint Commission on Truth and Friendship aimed at putting behind them any lingering bitterness over the violence.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's decision to go ahead with a separate review was announced on Friday but was disclosed to the Security Council more than a month ago, a spokesman said.

U.S. officials have supported a UN review into whether justice was done after the violence, saying commissions of the kind set up by Indonesia and East Timor in the past have led to few results.

But an Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday the commission set up by the two countries was the only proper way to review the events of 1999 and then move forward.

"With the greatest respect, we feel that it's important to acknowledge the two countries' own efforts in this," Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said.

"Not only because they are the most relevant parties but because as a result, the process will directly have beneficial effects to the two countries' future relations rather than something which may be operationally perfect but...is an outside mechanism," he told Reuters in Jakarta.


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