Subject: Susilo Meets UN Timor Violence Investigators [+2 JP reports]

also: JP: If E. Timor Tribunal's Outcome Was Dissatisfactory, It's Not My Business [I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, from the Directorate General for Human rights, Humanitarian, Social and Cultural Affairs at the RI Foreign Affairs Ministry]; and JP: UN experts meetings over Timor begin

UN Investigators Meet Indonesian Pres Over Timor Violence

JAKARTA, May 19 (AP)--Indonesia 's president met members of a U.N. commission investigating the 1999 violence in East Timor on Thursday, but activists expressed skepticism that the government would punish those responsible for the bloodshed that left 1,500 dead.

The five-member team refused to comment before heading into the meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

They are also scheduled to meet Supreme Court judges and the national rights body. The two-day visit is part of a review of how Indonesia and East Timor are handling cases related to the violent campaign waged by the military and its proxy Timorese militia to thwart a U.N.-sponsored referendum that led to East Timor's independence from a quarter-century of Indonesian rule.

The commission will recommend what additional action the U.N. Security Council should take, including the possible establishment of an international tribunal like those established for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Jakarta has opposed a tribunal, insisting it can prosecute the cases itself. But the trials that Indonesia has already held were widely criticized by foreign governments and rights groups, since all 16 police and military commanders indicted were acquitted. East Timor, by contrast, has convicted 87 Indonesian soldiers and Timorese militiamen.

About three-quarters of a total 440 suspects - including failed Indonesian presidential candidate Gen. Wiranto, who was the country's military chief in 1999 - remain in Indonesia . The government has refused Timorese requests to extradite them.

Jakarta says it is meeting the U.N. commission to ensure it produces a credible report. But rights groups and the local press say they doubt the government has the courage to correct past mistakes.

Asmara Nababan, a prominent rights activist, said the problem lies in the fact that many of the leaders who were in power in 1999 still wield considerable influence.

"There remains an ultra-nationalist sentiment in the country," said Nababan, who was part of a commission of inquiry that in 2001 implicated 200 people in the violence, including many Indonesian generals.

Yudhoyono himself was a top general in the army at the time, though he hasn't been implicated in the violence.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed the commission of experts to review Jakarta's prosecutions and explain why a Security Council resolution to try those responsible for the bloodshed has not been fulfilled.

Indonesia has attempted to head off the probe by forming a Commission of Truth and Friendship with East Timor. The body consists of lawyers and human rights figures from both nations but won't recommend legal action.

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The Jakarta Post Thursday, May 19, 2005

If E. Timor Tribunal's Outcome Was Dissatisfactory, It's Not My Business

The UN-sanctioned commission of experts (COE) commenced their mission in Jakarta on Wednesday and they will stay until Friday to meet a variety of people involved in meting out justice for East Timor. Their main task is to evaluate the judicial process of the tribunal that acquitted nearly all the military/police officers and government officials charged with grave human rights abuses in East Timor throughout 1999, the year it held a ballot that led to independence. The experts also visited East Timor last month. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, from the Directorate General for Human rights, Humanitarian, Social and Cultural Affairs at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, gave his comments on the UN experts' mission to The Jakarta Post's Ridwan Max Sijabat.

Question Why did the government finally allow the UN-sanctioned commission of experts (COE) to visit Indonesia?

Answer: The government is realistic. We let them visit after the UN changed its terms of reference of the commission of experts, which now recognizes the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF). So the UN commission has now agreed to give input on the CTF to accomplish its mission. The government has never been under public pressure in the issuance of visas for the UN experts.

What will they do in Indonesia?

I don't know what is their main agenda exactly and whom they want to meet with but their main mission is to evaluate the judicial process of the ad hoc tribunal that tried (those charged with perpetrating) 1999 East Timor human rights violations.

Is the UN experts' presence going to negate the CTF -- obscure its mission?

It is not, exactly because the two commissions, which are not running parallel, are expected to help one another. COE is expected to help CTF and the two countries to make a reconciliation, strengthen bilateral ties in the future, bury the past wounds, close the history's dark chapter and forge cooperation to prevent such human rights abuses from happening in the future. CTF will go ahead with or without the UN's experts.

What is the most that can be expected from the COE to achieve their mission?

The UN and its commission of experts are expected to eventually support the reconciliation between Indonesia and East Timor. The world's organizations and the international community should be realistic about the credibility of COE without any support from Indonesia and East Timor.

But, how will justice be done over the human rights abuses that took place?

The joint friendship commission was established to make reconciliation and to uphold justice. It is not merely a matter of punishment. It gives more emphasis on the two countries' bilateral ties in the future. The aspect of justice is necessary, but the most important thing is reconciliation and the two nations' future.

But how do you respond to the accusations that Indonesia is unwilling and unable to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity?

The accusations are baseless. Indonesia is different from the failed states, which are unable to solve such problems. Indonesia has the willingness and a strong commitment to settle the human rights issue peacefully.

The government has shown its willingness by taking an initiative to set up a fact-finding team (KPP Ham) following the riots, to carry out a thorough investigation into the human rights abuses. The government also set up an ad hoc tribunal to try human rights perpetrators. That the tribunal's outcome was dissatisfying to some, is not my business. We cannot interfere in the tribunal's internal affairs. The reality that most suspects were acquitted, is an indication that the judges have their legal perspectives and reasons to do so.

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The Jakarta Post (web site) May 19, 2005

UN experts meetings over Timor begin

JAKARTA (JP): The commission of experts tasked by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to investigate judicial processes of human rights abuses in East Timor's independence vote on 1999 began a series of meetings with top Indonesian officials on Thursday.

The members of the commission -- Prafullachandra Bhagwati from India, Yozo Yokota from Japan and Shaista Shameem from Fiji -- held a closed door meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda on Thursday morning.

The legal experts then met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Merdeka Palace.

During their two-day visit, the experts are also scheduled to meet Supreme Court judges and the national human rights body.

The commission will recommend what additional action the UN Security Council should take, including the possible establishment of an international tribunal like those established for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Indonesian government had earlier said that it would deny entry visas to the UN experts because East Timor and Indonesia had formed their own commission to investigate the violence and to promote reconciliation.

Indonesia and East Timor established the "Commission of Truth and Friendship" in March.


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