|Subject: AP: Former foes Indonesia, East Timor set
up joint human rights body
Wednesday March 9, 6:09 PM Indonesia
(Kyodo) _ East Timor and Indonesia on Wednesday launched a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses committed in 1999 when East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his East Timorese counterpart Xanana Gusmao signed the Joint Statement to Create the Commission of Truth and Friendship at a ceremony in Jakarta.
"This is the time for us, Indonesia and East Timor, to try searching for the truth, because all of the people of Indonesia, our people, we would like to know the truth," East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told a press conference after the ceremony.
"We are looking forward to trying to get the truth, (because) the truth will be the base of a real friendship," he added.
The commission, modeled on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, will be tasked with establishing conclusive truth of events with a view to further promoting reconciliation and friendship and ensuring that tragic events of the past will not be repeated.
Unlike the one in South Africa, however, the commission will have no decisive power. Under its maximum mandate of two years, the commission can only make recommendations to the parliaments of both sides and cannot prosecute anyone.
However, when asked how the commission will guarantee that the truth behind human rights abuses in East Timor in 1999 will be revealed, Gusmao only said that both sides must trust each other.
"We need to put some trust in humankind, in society, in the state, in the country, because without this, we will live in continuous distrust," Gusmao said.
"The commission is committed to the truth...is open to seek the truth," he added. "We have to make mechanisms by which the commission can have the truth revealed."
The commission was established based on an agreement between Yudhoyono and Gusmao in December. It will have 10 members, with five from Indonesia and the other five from East Timor.
In the next few months, both governments will propose lists of experts, human rights activists, lawyers, politicians, religious leaders and scholars to be members of the commission, which will convene on Aug. 10.
"We will have contact and if we all agree on both lists, we will swear in those 10 people," Gusmao said.
The commission will have a secretariat on the resort island of Bali with complimentary offices in Jakarta and Dili.
"It will take time to bring together all the processes into one conclusive dossier. It will also take time to examine and to establish the factual, conclusive truth we are searching for," Gusmao said.
"But we must accomplish it, for the sake of our children, for their future, for the future of both of our nations," he added.
The decision to set up the commission came after the U.N. Security Council expressed concerns over Indonesia's failure to punish those responsible for the 1999 massacre. Most of 18 military and civilian officers, charged with human rights abuses in East Timor, were acquitted.
Last month, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan announced the establishment of the independent Commission of Experts to review the prosecution.
The commission will assess the progress made by the judicial processes in Dili and Jakarta and make recommendations to Annan with regard to possible future actions over the 1999 anti-independence violence in which dozens of people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled, according to the United Nations.
The former Portuguese colony, annexed by Indonesia in the 1970s, became independent in 2002.
RI, E Timor Want To Settle Residual Issues : President Yudhoyono
Jakarta ( Berita ) : Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that Indonesia and East Timor are willing to settle their residual issues peacefully and objectively through an Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF).
"We are willing to settle residual problems peacefully and objectively," Yudhoyono said after a meeting with East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao at the Presidential Palace here on Wednesday.
Yudhoyono who was accompanied by Xanana said that Indonesia and East Timor hoped they would develop better relations in the future.
The two Presidents expected that with the settlement of residual problems, the common interest of both nations could be guaranteed.
Asked on the membership of the Commission, Yudhoyono did not specifically mention the names of figures who represent Indonesia in the Commmission.
"The Commission's members are those who are able to find objective solutions," he said.
Indonesia hoped relations with East Timor would continue to undergo positive development in the future.
"We truly want to foster closer frienship and develop good cooperation," the Indonesian President said.
He said there were international parties who wanted to meddle into the settlement of both countries' problems but in a way that was different from that of Indonesia and East Timor.
"We are keeping abreast of the dynamic being developed by several international parties but the dynamic is not always the same as Indonesia and East Timor's way," he said.
President Xanana meanwhile said that Indonesia and East Timor will settle their common problems through the Commission of Truth and Friendship.
"What we want is to find thruth," Xanana said.(ant)
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