Subject: JP: NGOs slam RI-Timor Leste commission meeting

Also Australia influenced ETimor vote: army chief

NGOs slam RI-Timor Leste commission meeting

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo and Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Sanur

Several human rights NGOs have criticized the fourth session of the joint Indonesia and Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) in Bali, saying it was summoning more "actors" in than victims of the aftermath of the 1999 referendum that led East Timor's secession from Indonesia.

"Those testifying at the commission's sessions are people who blame the UN for inciting more violence in Timor Leste, rather than victims, who are trying to conceal the truth," impunity division head at the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Haris Ashar, said Monday.

"Out of the 47 people who have testified at all three previous sessions, only seven of them are victims. Up until now, the commission has only tried to produce a version of the 'truth' according to the actors."

The victims who testified are Florido De Jesus Brites, Esmeralda Dos Santos, Nonato Soares, Adelino Britto, Fares Da Costa, Berta Santos and Lucia.

Haris added the unwillingness of CTF members to call more victims was a proof that the commission was functioning only as an "extended hand" of the actors, alleged human rights violators, who were trying to acquit themselves.

"Moreover, we regret the poor performance of the joint commission, which has spent about US$4.5 million, but we realize that it's hard to dissolve or stop the commission," Haris said in a media statement representing other human rights groups such as Elsam, Imparsial and the Human Rights Watch Group.

During the hearing at the Sanur Paradise Hotel on Monday, David Ximenes, former vice president of the National Council for East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), said that the two countries were trying to seek the truth about the 1999 referendum, and did not want to jail people.

"If there's anybody who thinks that (we are going to jail people), then he's definitely lost in space. (The dialogue) is meant to produce a mutual understanding, to clear things that are obscured," he said.

"The process is irreversible. If anybody is jailed (for the violence), the victims still will not come back to life."

He said the CNRT was an alliance of nationalists that fought for East Timorese freedom and whose members had no intention of harming other people.

Former Liquica regent Leonito Martins, who testified before Ximenes, restated allegations that the 1999 referendum was unfair as many voters found the ballots had been punched before they voted.

He also said the United Nations Mission in East Timor did not report the activities of five Australian nationals alleged to have encouraged the East Timorese to secede from Indonesia.

CTF co-chair from Timor Leste, Dionisio Babo Soares, said the allegations had long been repeated but were never supported by strong evidence.

"In this case, the attendance of the United Nations officials involved in the referendum process is important. They can give us information about the validity of such allegations," he said.

The other two witnesses testifying at Monday's session were former Liquica District Military chief Lt. Col. Asep Kuswani and former member of the election watchdog Rector Forum, Yan Rizal.

Scheduled to testify on Tuesday are Sakunar pro-integration commander Simao Lopes; former treasurer of the East Timor People's Front Jose Estavao Soares; victim Domingos Alves; and former East Timor intelligence chief Col. Yayat Sudrajat.


ABC Radio Australia

Australia influenced ETimor vote: army chief

Last Updated 24/07/2007, 14:37:13

A former Indonesian military commander in East Timor has accused Australian referendum observers in 1999 of actively trying to influence the vote for independence from Indonesia.

He was speaking at the fourth sitting of the Commission of Truth and Friendship on East Timor, formed jointly by the Indonesian and East Timorese governments.

The United Nations has criticised the commission, saying it is designed to provide amnesty for those responsible for gross human rights abuses during the referendum period.

As Peter Cave reports from Jakarta, Indonesian army colonel Asep Kuswani, in giving evidence, named four Australian observers who he claimed were actively involved in influencing voters aided by United Nations officials.

He said the four were arrested and deported by the Indonesian police.

The Indonesian co-chairman of the commission, Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, has criticised former UN officials, including Kofi Annan and the head of the UNAMET mission in East Timor, Ian Martin, for not replying to invitations to take part.

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