Subject: Timor Leste, Indonesia and Moral Complexities [+'99 Referendum Was Fair: Monitor]

also: JP: 1999 Timor referendum was'fair': Monitor

The Jakarta Post Thursday, May 3, 2007


Timor Leste, Indonesia and Moral Complexities

Franz Magnis-Suseno SJ, Jakarta

On Tuesday, Aboeprijadi Santoso exposed the moral hypocrisy surrounding the ongoing hearings of the Joint Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF). The facts he alluded to are above dispute. And his moral outrage seems only too appropriate. The writer concludes that "real friendship should not be based on lies to cover the truth and perpetuate the impunity".

But is it really that easy? When Indonesia and Timor Leste jointly established the CTF they certainly did it not merely for the sake of truth and friendship, but because of serious political considerations. And rightly so. Because, as the German philosopher Bernhard Sutor points out, the ethical quality of a political decision is not measured by pure moral principles, but by the improvement that realistically can be hoped to be achieved by it.

Both Indonesia's and Timor Leste's leaders recognized that the most important task they faced was not retribution for the terrible crimes committed by Indonesia from 1975 to 1999, but the establishment of normal, enduring, positive relations between the two countries.

East-Timorese leaders obviously realized what some morally outraged foreigners overlooked: That the cessation of Timor Leste was a traumatic event not only for Timor Leste, but also for Indonesia. For 24 years Indonesians had fought in East Timor "for the sake of the nation". The families of many thousand of fallen soldiers consoled themselves with the idea that they died for a noble cause. President B.J. Habibie's courageous, but completely unexpected offer of a referendum on independence for the East-Timorese took Indonesians, and of course the military, completely by surprise.

The result of the referendum shamed Indonesia severely. Additional shaming by exposing the crimes of Indonesia's military openly before the eyes of the world would have alienated it from Timor Leste for a long time and could have even resulted in a violent backlash (I remember a Balinese taxi driver telling me enthusiastically in September 1999 that he was ready to go to war against Australia).

On afterthought one wonders why the military did not use their East Timorese militias to sabotage the referendum, which would have been easy enough. Did they really believe that the East-Timorese would not vote for independence? Were they actually prepared to obey their president, although grudgingly and vengefully?

In fact, the execution of the referendum was not significantly obstructed. There were, in 1999, two waves of special violence, first in April and then the mayhem following the (premature) publication of the results of the referendum. Both seem to have been more the expression of fury and resentment (the dangerous mental state Indonesians call keki or dendam) than acts of insubordination.

I remember an East Timorese militia chief, I believe it was Enrico Guterres, saying on television about a week before the referendum, that, should a majority vote for independence, he would make sure that nothing of what was built during Indonesia's reign would remain standing. And this they did. The murderous devastation of large parts of Timor Leste was indeed an expression of the deep resentment felt by the Indonesian military.

But there is a point that has been completely ignored by the international community that is chastising Indonesia for dragging its feet on bringing the perpetrators of the post-referendum havoc to justice. Namely that since the Indonesian pull-out in 1999 there has been not a single serious instance of Indonesia or its military trying to make trouble for their eastern neighbor.

It would have been so easy. Remember how in 1975 Indonesia used a bloody, vicious civil war among the East Timorese -- tens of thousand East Timorese had fled into Indonesian territory -- for intervention? Less than eight years after becoming free from Indonesia there are, at this very moment, more than 20,000 East-Timorese living in refugee camps -- who, again, had to flee from their own brethren.

The acceptance of Timor Leste's independence after 1999, and the fact that Indonesia, including "black" Indonesian military, did not try to use Timor Leste's growing internal troubles to avenge themselves and to destabilize the country is a remarkable feat of responsibility.

The leaders of Timor Leste recognized this fact as of highest political importance for their country. They understood that the only thing absolutely not to do was make Indonesia, or Indonesia's military, or some of its most important members, lose face again.

Therefore they agreed to setting up the CTF in the present form. Lamenting the limited scope of the commission in the name of justice while overlooking the extremely delicate situation Indonesia and Timor Leste find themselves for me smacks of all too easy self-righteousness. Time is not yet right to open up all the abysses of inhumanity left behind by the Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste.

Coming to terms with the full truth of one's own history always needs time. Indonesia has not yet been able to face the full truth regarding of the happenings in 1965 and 1966, in 1998 (the Jakarta riots with the same number of deaths during three days as in Timor Leste in September 1999) and many other occasions. But this is in no way a privilege of Indonesia.

The Japanese still have not been able to acknowledge the terrible crimes they committed between 1930 and 1945 in East and Southeast Asia. The Chinese are silent on the abnormal degree of inhumanity under Mao-Zedong. In Cambodia the Khmer Rouge will probably never be brought to justice for their genocide on their own people.

Even in France, the people and government are still reluctant, more than 60 years after the fact, to acknowledge that many French willingly surrendered French Jews to the Germans. And Czechs and Poles -- who, indeed, suffered terribly under Nazi Germany -- are still not willing to acknowledge that, after the World War II, they committed atrocities during the expulsion of many millions of Germans.

Thus, the CTF may fall short of the demands of some moralists, but under prevailing conditions it is probably the maximum that could be achieved. By helping Indonesians to accept Timor Leste's existence it does both countries a real service.

The author, a Jesuit priest, is a professor at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta.


The Jakarta Post Thursday, May 3, 2007

1999 Timor referendum was'fair': Monitor

Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

An observer with the Asian Network for Free and Fair Elections (Anfrel), which monitored the East Timor independence vote in 1999, testified Wednesday that the referendum was "fair".

"There was no essential violation between the pro-integration and pro-independent groups during the referendum," Muflizar, an executive committee member of Anfrel who witnessed the referendum, told a hearing of the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) at the Borobudur Hotel in Central Jakarta.

Muflizar, the 27th person to testify before the commission, said his group found only minor violations before the voting began.

"There were 42 Anfrel members to monitor the referendum in East Timor's districts, four of them Indonesians. The rest came from 14 countries," said Muflizar, who monitored the voting in Dili and Liqui‡a.

A CTF member from Indonesia, Achmad Ali, asked why Anfrel did not report any violations by members of the now defunct United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) during the referendum, as claimed by an Indonesian task force.

"The task force, headed by Zacky Makarim, reported the unfairness of UNAMET to its chairman, Ian Martin. Martin followed up on this report and transferred some of his staff," Achmad said.

Earlier in the hearing, two East Timor-born members of the Indonesian Military, Sgt. Simao Coreia and Sgt. Luis dos Santos, denied involvement in a murder in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, following the referendum.

The two had been accused by the Committee for the National Resistance of Timor Leste of murdering the committee's leader, Mauhudo, on Sept. 8, 1999. Several people testified they saw the soldiers shoot Mauhudo.

Coreia said he was in Jakarta at the time of the killing, taking part in a national beach volleyball championship as a representative of East Timor province. Dos Santos said he was on duty outside Kupang at the time of the murder.

At a separate hearing in Timor Leste on Wednesday, Mauhudo's wife, Lidia da Silva Guterres, testified that her late husband was kidnapped by several people wearing Indonesian Military uniforms.

"(Mauhudo) did not commit any crime against the pro-integration groups," she said as quoted by Haris Azhar, an official with the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence.

Haris said the CTF should be more effective in building bridges between Indonesia and Timor Leste.

"So far, the findings of the CTF have not been useful in strengthening friendship between the countries. Commission members have been busy delivering their own opinions during its hearings," he said.

The CTF session will continue today, with the commission scheduled to hear the testimony of former Dili Military commander Maj. Gen. M. Noer Muis; former Los Palos infantry battalion commander Col. Jacob Sarosa; former speaker of the East Timor legislative council Armindo Soares Mariano; and a civilian witness, Alianca Goncalves


Terjemahan (atas jasa "Kataku"):

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

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