Subject: CTF a failure if it lacks transparency: Rights group

The Jakarta Post

Monday, April 07, 2008

CTF a failure if it lacks transparency: Rights group

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta

The Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) must disclose who was behind the 1999 violence in East Timor despite a Supreme Court ruling to free all civilians involved, human rights activists said here Saturday.

The court had previously freed 18 people charged over the violence in East Timor prior to and following the independence vote there. It cleared former militia leader Eurico Guterres from all criminal charges last month (although it was only announced Friday), rectifying its 2006 verdict that sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Choirul Anam from the Indonesian Non-Governmental Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy said Saturday the commission must be courageous and mention any names, both civilians and military officials allegedly involved in the riots.

"It would be useless if the commission only blames a certain institution as it is difficult for the government to bring an institution to the international court," he said.

Choirul said the commission should refer to the report from the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), mentioning several high-ranking military officials, including former general Wiranto and Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsuddin who were allegedly involved in the unrest.

"Unfortunately, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) had excluded Wiranto as a potential suspect in the case," he said.

Choirul also said the commission needed political will to include names responsible for the incident because many military officials were rumored to have masterminded the unrest.

Rafendi Djamin, also from the coalition, said the CTF could be considered a failure if it is not brave enough to announce any suspects in the case.

"This failure will add to other failures like the Trisakti and Semanggi tragedies," he said.

Both the Trisakti and Semanggi tragedies saw university students killed in the 1998 rallies prior to the resignation of former president Soeharto, and marked the emergence of the reform era.

Rafendi said the commission should elaborate in detail all facts surrounding the incidents, including names of all victims and perpetrators, if it did wish to point out individual suspects.

"I hope the commission will present all the facts transparently," he said.

Indonesia and Timor Leste agreed to establish the commission in 2005 to investigate alleged human rights violations involving the Indonesian Military (TNI) prior to and following the UN-administered referendum in the former Indonesian province in 1999.

TNI-backed militia groups were blamed for the deaths of hundreds of people and the destruction of infrastructure following East Timor's vote for independence.

The commission is set to present findings to the Indonesian and Timor Leste governments next month after repeatedly delaying their submission in January and March this year.

The two governments will review the joint commission's findings before the report is made public. (ewd)

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