|Subject: Letter to UN from Alternative
Hearing against CTF Hearing
AUDENSIAP UBLIKAA LTERNATIVHA ASORU CVA NIA AUDENSIA
TRUTH AND JUSTICE THE ROAD TO FRIENDSHIP
We would like to thank you very much for your letter of 24 August 2007 as respond to our letter on 20 July 2007 to discuss the possibilities on UN staff participation in an Alternative Hearing against CTF hearing in Dili.
It was with some disappointment that we read your letter of 24 August 2007. That letter advised that UNMIT representatives would not be permitted to participate in activities organized by our group to reflect on the violence of 1999 or to respond to the flawed processes of the Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF). Most regrettably, no explanation was given in that letter of why UNMIT has taken this position. We were saddened that before this letter of refusal was sent, no meeting was held with our group's representatives as requested, in order that we might discuss our plans with you and seek a mutually agreeable means for cooperation.
As you know, the UN was fundamentally involved in the events of 1999, not least by its involvement in the May 5 agreements which gave Indonesia authority to provide security for the popular consultation. The UN itself lost a number of local staff members in the ensuring violence organized by the Indonesian military, and others were terrorized and victimized because of their involvement with the UN. We believe that this leaves the UN with a special responsibility to support the Timorese people in their demands for truth and justice.
We note that the UN has publicly espoused a "principled approach" to transitional justice, not only in general but specifically in the case of Timor-Leste and Indonesia. In his Report on Justice and Reconciliation for Timor-Leste, former Secretary-Genera Anan stated that:
In the course of its consultations with the two Governments, the United Nations has consistently reaffirmed its principled approach to justice and reconciliation, stressing in particular the need for any such process to pursue credible accountability for the serious human rights violations committed in 1999, in accordance with international human rights standards and principles.
We note that earlier this year the UN publicly announced that it would not support the work of the CTF. This was said to be a question of upholding a "position of principle" in opposition to amnesty for international crimes.
Finally, we note also that the UN Secretary-General's report on transitional justice recognizes the important role of civil society, including human rights organisations and victims' groups. That report states that "Approaches focusing only on one or another institution, or ignoring civil society or victims, will not be effective."
However, despite the UN's stated commitment to a "principled approach" to transitional justice in Timor-Leste, despite its official rejection of the CTF, and despite its recognition of the important role of civil society, UNMIT has refused to participate in civil society led activities designed to reject the CTF and demand a return to principled transitional justice initiatives. We question how this decision furthers the stated objectives of the UN in the area of transitional justice.
We call on UNMIT to recognize that it was established not for the benefit of the Timorese Govemment, but for the Timorese people. UNMIT should be prepared to work together with civil society, particularly when govemment policy contradicts not only the demands of the people, but also international standards and the UN's own stated "position of principle".
With or without the support of UNMIT, Timorese civil society will continue to fight for the UN-endorsed objective of "credible accountability for the serious human rights violations committed in 1999, in accordance with international human standards and principles". We sincerely hope that in the UNMIT will be more of such efforts in the future.
Edio Saldanha Borges Alliance for International Tribunal ANTI Ph
7284602 Email : kadiuk@ yahoo.com
Jose Caetano East Timor Crisis Reflection Network (ETCRN) Ph 7253877 Email infoetcrn2006@ yahoo.com
Cc. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon