Subject: SMH Exclusive Reports: Indonesia To Blame For Timor Mayhem; Truth
Out, Harder Than Expected [+Balibo]
4 SMH Reports:
- Indonesia to blame for Timor mayhem
- Analysis: Report bites harder than expected
- Truth out of Indonesia's scorched earth
- Death of newsman: star calls for inquiry
The Sydney Morning Herald
Friday, July 11, 2008
Indonesia to blame for Timor mayhem
INDONESIAN soldiers, police and civilian officials were involved in an "organised campaign of violence" that prompted Australian military intervention in East Timor in 1999, says a leaked report by a government inquiry.
It says the Indonesian state bears "institutional responsibility" for atrocities including murder, rape, torture, illegal detention, and forced mass deportations.
The report is an embarrassment - and potential test - for the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is due to release it jointly with East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta, on Monday.
The 300-page report was prepared by a commission set up by the two governments in an attempt to blunt pressure for an international tribunal to hear evidence of crimes against humanity committed around East Timor's vote for independence in August 1999. Instead, its findings are likely to reignite calls for such a tribunal, by undermining long-standing official Indonesian denials of involvement in violence that claimed up to 1500 lives.
The Commission of Truth and Friendship report, obtained by the Herald, finds that Indonesian police, army and civilian government officials funded, armed and co-ordinated anti-independence militias that carried out crimes against humanity.
Its findings are consistent with reports by United Nations and Indonesian human rights investigators, who found the military (TNI) was ultimately responsible for attempts to intimidate voters before the referendum, and then unleashed a scorched earth campaign after the vote went against them.
But the report is politically explosive, as it is the result of a government-backed commission, set up by the two countries in an attempt to close a bitter era in their recent history.
Indonesian military and government officials, including Dr Yudhoyono, have consistently played down the extent of the 1999 mayhem, insisting it was spontaneous mob violence carried out by indigenous militias acting on their own.
While the report finds pro-independence groups also committed crimes in 1999, the overwhelming weight of evidence is that pro-Indonesian militias were the "primary, direct perpetrators of gross human rights violations".
It says the TNI, police and civilian authorities "consistently and systematically co-operated with and supported the militias in ways that contributed to the perpetration of crimes".
The TNI armed the militias, was structurally linked to them, helped co-ordinate and direct their actions, and sometimes directly took part in massacres of suspected independence supporters. The civilian government funded militia groups, even when it knew they had committed massacres.
"The provision of funding and material support by military and government officials was an integral part of a well-organised and continuous co-operative relationship, in the pursuit of common political goals aimed at promoting militia activities that would intimidate or prevent civilians from supporting the pro- independence movement," the report says.
"TNI and police personnel, as well as civilian officials, were at times involved in virtually every phase of these activities that resulted in gross human rights violations including murder, rape, torture, illegal detention, and forcible transfer and deportation.
"Viewed as a whole, the gross human rights violations committed against pro-independence supporters in East Timor in 1999 constitute an organised campaign of violence.
"The TNI , Polri [police] and civilian government all bear institutional responsibility for these crimes."
As a result, it concluded that "Indonesia bears state responsibility" for gross violations of human rights.
Far from being "spontaneous out-of control, mob attacks", the militia violence showed "a significant degree of organisation, direction, and planning".
The former general Wiranto, who was armed forces chief in 1999, has argued the upheaval was the result of mob violence.
Indicted by UN prosecutors for crimes against humanity, he has never been tried, and is likely to be a candidate in next year's presidential election.
When he appeared at a Commission of Truth and Friendship hearing in May last year, he dismissed as "absurd" allegations that the military had orchestrated the violence.
But the commission, which does not name names and has no power to recommend prosecutions, says the violence was "systematic, co-ordinated and carefully planned".
Dr Yudhoyono, who was a Jakarta-based army general in 1999, has also played down the extent of the violence.
The report calls for a "transformation" of the army's doctrine and institutional practices to prevent a repeat of the violence.
The TNI needs to become a professional armed force "appropriate for a modern, democratic state", it says.
The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, July 11, 2008
Report bites harder than expected
Analysis - Behind The Violence
THE report of the Commission of Truth and Friendship is a bitter pill for the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a slap in the face to the Indonesian military, and a challenge to the UN to act on the crimes of 1999, for which no one in authority has been held to account. So many crimes, so few criminals.
It confirms the findings of a series of investigations by the United Nations - that Indonesian officials organised, funded and directed militias who carried out atrocities before and after the 1999 independence referendum. In some cases, Indonesian officers had a direct role in massacres.
And it wasn't just men in uniform who sought to terrorise a defenceless population. Government officials were involved in funding and supporting militias, who were intricately linked to the apparatus of the Indonesian occupation and repression.
The devastation of East Timor in 1999 - 1500 dead, half the population displaced, most infrastructure destroyed - was truly a whole of government effort.
When it was set up, the truth commission wasn't expected to produce a report like this. The idea came from then president Xanana Gusmao as a way of promoting reconciliation with East Timor's large, powerful and newly-democratic neighbour. He and his then foreign minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, were also motivated by realpolitik. They knew there was little chance of the UN setting up an international tribunal into the crimes of 1999. With Indonesian flatly opposed, the UN Security Council wouldn't act. And there was little international support for a tribunal, including from Australia.
But Gusmao and Ramos-Horta were also under domestic pressure to provide some justice to the victims and survivors of Indonesia's spiteful departure.
The commission's aim was to establish the truth about 1999. It would not name names, and it had no power to compel witnesses to give evidence or initiate prosecutions. More friendship than truth, said the critics, including Indonesian human rights groups.
It is no whitewash, but the truth commission's report has structural and logical flaws. It concludes the state of East Timor is responsible for abuses by pro-independence groups in 1999, where there is little evidence of those abuses, and the state of East Timor didn't exist at the time the abuses were allegedly committed. But its main conclusion - the Indonesian state was responsible for the crimes of 1999 - is incontrovertible and, in context, a minor act of courage.
Yudhoyono will not like it. It repudiates the widespread view in Indonesia that the violence was the result of intra-Timorese feuding or, even more fanciful, UN and Australian meddling.
The challenge for Yudhoyono will be to swallow his defensive pride when he releases it with Ramos-Horta next week.
The bigger challenge will be how he responds to its call for reform of the Indonesian military. What will he do about the officers - and civilian bureaucrats - who orchestrated the violence and haven't looked back?
Not one - not even of the 18 officers tried by an special Indonesian court - is in jail.
* Tom Hyland is The Sunday Age's International Editor.
The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, July 11, 2008
Truth out of Indonesia's scorched earth
THE massacre in the East Timor enclave of Oecussi was supposed to have been kept secret forever.
But Marcus Baquin pretended to be dead when a militiaman, under the command of an Indonesian soldier identified as Anton Sabraka and a militia commander known Gabriel Kolo, slashed the right side of his face and ear with a machete.
Baquin's testimony before the Indonesia-East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission was one of many that led to its finding that hundreds of victims were attacked in East Timor in 1999 because they opposed Indonesia's 24-year-old rule.
Baquin's nightmare began on September 8, 1999, days after the East Timorese had voted overwhelmingly for independence in a United Nations-run referendum.
He ran into the jungle when pro-Jakarta militia attacked his village and two nearby.
When he returned, he said he found 65 people had been slaughtered.
Baquin explained to the commission that at the time of the attack and arson against his village, all of the houses were burnt but it was the perceived independence supporters who were targeted for murder, the commission's report said.
Baquin reported that the day after the attacks he and other villagers were rounded up by the militia, tied in pairs and herded towards the East Timorese border (the enclave is surrounded by Indonesian West Timor).
In the early hours of September 10, just after the group had crossed the border into East Timor, 74 men in the group were killed en masse.
"The witness stated that most victims fell under the machete blows administered by Gabriel Kolo and his militiamen, as well as being shot by Anton Sabraka."
The commission investigated 14 priority cases of crimes against humanity committed in East Timor between April and the end of September 1999.
They included a so-called "scorched earth" policy to destroy houses and infrastructure, murder, enforced disappearances, deportation, sexual violence, torture, inhumane treatment, illegal detention and persecution.
It named Indonesian military officers who were directly involved in atrocities but did not recommend any be prosecuted.
"Although these allegations do not always completely clarify these individuals' roles in these events, the multiple, detained descriptions [often including the exact date, time, names, ranks, uniform and physical descriptions of the personnel] of TNI [Indonesian military] involvement in many different attacks in locations across East Timor in 1999, lend strong credence to the interpretation that TNI personnel participated, and sometimes played a leading role, in a number of the 14 priority cases," the report said.
The commission found also that Indonesia's police and civilian government officials were "implicated in a number of testimonies as indirectly participating in enabling the commission of human rights abuses", most often providing support to militia groups.
The commission said there were indications of "some officials of the Indonesian civil administration" in the "process of the formation, funding and arming" of militia groups. One unidentified witness gave "important testimony", it said, revealing that Indonesian government offices in Dili distributed money to support Jakarta's efforts to stop Timorese voting for independence.
The commission said the Indonesian military appeared to supply weapons to militia "in a deliberate and systematic manner. The evidence clearly indicates that these weapons were not used primarily for self-defence but were employed in military-style operations in furtherance of the objective of supporting the pro-autonomy [Indonesian] cause," the commission said.
These operations targeted civilians on account of their actual or perceived orientation and resulted in various gross human rights violations, it said.
"While social or psychological bonds and shared political goals forged over a long period of time may explain why individuals became involved in the perpetration of such gross human rights violations, they cannot justify institutional involvement in the perpetration of such crimes."
The commission found multiple indicators in all 14 priority cases "that at the time of the attack there was a significant degree of organisation, direction and planning. In other words, these events appear to be organised, rather than spontaneous, out-of-control mob attacks," the commission said.
An unidentified witness who named an Indonesian army intelligence officer, Tome Diogo, as giving the order to attack and kill scores of people in the Liquica church compound on April 6, 1999, said several other Indonesian soldiers and police were also involved.
The roles of Indonesian military, police and some officials in supporting rampaging militia groups dominate the 321-page report. But East Timorese wanting perpetrators brought to justice will be disappointed to read it.
The report noted the commission created by the two governments had no judicial or quasi-judicial powers.
Its conclusions "do not represent the end of a process of closure and reconciliation but rather a beginning ... Healing the wounds of the past and achieving true reconciliation will be the work of a generation."
The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, July 11, 2008
Death of newsman: star calls for inquiry
THE Hollywood actor Anthony LaPaglia has called on the Northern Territory Government to hold a coronial inquiry into the assassination of Roger East, a largely forgotten Australian journalist he is portraying in the movie Balibo.
The Australian-born LaPaglia also called on the Rudd Government to send a forensic team to East Timor to recover the remains of East and the five Australian newsmen killed in Balibo in 1975.
In comments likely to anger the Indonesian Government, LaPaglia said he believed a shoebox supposedly containing the remains of the five newsmen that authorities took to Jakarta to be buried contained only dirt.
"Dig a couple of feet into the ground at Balibo and I reckon a good forensic team could find their remains," he told the Herald in an interview in Darwin, where the movie is being shot.
LaPaglia criticised NT authorities for deciding last year not to hold an inquiry into East's murder, partly on the grounds that he had lived in Darwin for only 10 months before his death aged 51 in December 1975.
"Roger was an Australian citizen ... so why does it matter where he was from - the Northern Territory is still under Australian jurisdiction, right?"
LaPaglia is intrigued by East, a "seasoned" journalist who had covered wars and coups around the world. He agreed to take the role because "Roger's story is an important one to tell".
East ignored warnings and stayed on in the East Timorese capital, Dili, when Indonesian soldiers invaded, saying he would go into the hills with Fretilin soldiers. But witnesses saw soldiers from Indonesia's 502 Battalion march East to Dili's wharf where they saw him with his hands in the air shouting, "Not Fretilin - Australia."
East was cut down by automatic weapons fire. Nobody has been brought to justice for his killing.