Subject: 5 Reports: Timor Militia Chief Accuses RI Generals; Quiet Punch From CTF Report; No Sorry; Op-Ed: Australia's Shame

5 Reports:

- Indon generals who drugged, armed me must pay: militia chief

- BBC News: Quiet punch of East Timor report

- Indonesia says no apology over Timor violence probe

- The Age: No sorry, but regret from Indonesian President

- The Age Op-Ed: Australia's shame over East Timor [By Daniel Flitton]

---

Indon generals who drugged, armed me must pay: militia chief

By Stephanie March

DILI, July 14 AAP - A former militia leader who claims the Indonesian military drugged him and gave him weapons to kill independence supporters in East Timor says the generals responsible must be held to account.

Joni Marques spent eight years in jail for crimes he committed as leader of a brutal pro-Indonesian militia, including the murder of nuns and a priest, around the time of East Timor's 1999 independence vote.

Marques claims that drugs he was fed by the Indonesians "destroyed his mind" and allowed him to join in the violence.

The generals responsible must be held responsible for the devastating violence that surrounded the ballot, he said.

Marques made the call ahead of the formal release in Bali tomorrow of a report resulting from the landmark East Timor Indonesia Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF).

The report, which Jakarta has said it will accept, blames Indonesia for murders, rapes and torture in East Timor in 1999.

It says government funds from Jakarta allowed pro-Indonesian militias to carry out coordinated attacks, and that some Indonesian army personnel played a lead role in the violence.

But it also says pro-independence groups in East Timor committed gross human rights violations, namely illegal detentions, and that Dili must join Jakarta and offer an apology.

Marques today said the Indonesian generals who directed his group must pay a price for the violence that erupted at his own hands, and at the hands of his operatives.

"Those generals - the leaders who were in East Timor at the time, they must take responsibility," he said.

"[The Indonesians] must take the responsibility for the victims, for the people dead. Those people died because of the weapons given by them."

Marques claims a member of the Indonesian military in East Timor fed him drugs that led him to be involved in murders.

"They gave a me a capsule to take [and] that medicine destroyed my mind and I killed the nuns."

He said it took six days for the drugs to wear off and only then did he realise what he had done.

The truth and friendship commission's mandate did not make any provisions for it to recommend prosecutions, nor does the final report name the individuals responsible for the violence.

Equally, though, the report does not say that an amnesty should apply - something that could prompt fresh calls for an international tribunal or court to hear specific cases.

While Marques blames the Indonesians for his actions, he also takes a degree of personal responsibility.

He points to the eight years he served of a 33-year sentence, before being handed a pardon by East Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta.

"I'm an East Timorese, so I must take the responsibility here. If they (the Indonesians) want to do over there what I have done here, it can give a good image for their country," he said.

"I took a 33-year prison sentence because I did something bad, I [too] must take responsibility."

-----------------------------

BBC News July 14, 2008

Quiet punch of East Timor report

By Lucy Williamson BBC News, Dili

photo: Pro-Indonesian militiamen in Dili on 12 April 1999

On Tuesday, the world's first bilateral Truth Commission will present its final report to the presidents of East Timor and Indonesia.

What happened between them in 1999 will be publicly rewritten.

That was the year East Timor voted for independence, after 24 years of Indonesian occupation. During that year, about 1,000 people are believed to have been murdered, and many others tortured, raped and displaced.

Despite special courts being set up in both countries, and several reports detailing evidence of the abuses, most key suspects have never faced trial.

'Systematic violence'

This commission - called The Truth and Friendship Commission - is the two nations' answer to that failure.

It is an attempt to move the focus away from criminal trials towards "restorative justice" - to draw a line under the events of the past, while avoiding an international tribunal.

What the report has delivered will not satisfy any of the key players completely - not the victims, nor those lobbing for justice, nor everyone in the Indonesian army - and it is probably not exactly what the countries' leaders bargained for either.

But this report was directly commissioned by those governments, and it packs a quiet punch.

It says this: that crimes against humanity were committed in East Timor in 1999, and that the vast majority of them were committed with the backing and cooperation of the Indonesian army.

Army commanders, it says, armed, funded and organised pro-Indonesian militias in a highly organised way.

Contrary to Indonesia's traditional position, the gross human rights violations committed then, the report says, were clearly not spontaneous, isolated incidents, but systematically targeted pro-independence supporters in a campaign of violence for which Indonesia's army, police and civilian administration were responsible.

Public record

What the report does not say is who exactly in those institutions was to blame.

And that has been controversial. The commission was tasked with establishing the conclusive truth about the events of 1999, and which institutions - but not which individuals - were responsible.

The report was not linked to any judicial process, so the evidence given to it will not lead to criminal trials.

But criminal trials are exactly what many victims want. Is a quick ceremony, and an acknowledgement of institutional responsibility really the last word on the subject?

Perhaps not - for two reasons.

Firstly, this report does not preclude criminal trials. No amnesties were recommended; no rehabilitation of those allegedly wrongfully accused either.

And as one of the report's authors, Leigh-Ashley Lipscomb, explained, a truth commission does not obstruct a judicial process - they are totally separate things.

This commission could actually help in criminal trials, she says, "because as well as being a public record of what happened, it also contains testimony from perpetrators and victims from both countries".

This is the most comprehensive report ever compiled on the events of 1999. It pulls together previous documents, offers new evidence, and publishes that from previous indictments.

But it also does something that individual criminal trials do not do; it addresses the broad structural issues in political and military institutions.

"When you're trying crimes against humanity," says Leigh-Ashley Lispcomb, "it's not about just a single murder. If you don't change the structure and systems, there's always the risk it could happen again."

Military reform?

And that is where this report will - or will not - be given real weight: in the long road to army reform in Indonesia.

Will it happen? The country's defence minister says many of the report's recommendations - for human rights training, for example, and institutional reform - are already in hand.

He admits there are those within the military who are resistant to the idea, but says it is not up to them anymore - the army is now under the control of the civilian government.

The question is how tough that civilian government will be.

This will be an awkward report to ignore - after all, it was co-commissioned by the president himself.

But many of Indonesia's senior generals are still powerful, and public pressure from ordinary Indonesians is minimal.

And in East Timor too, there are those who are ready to move on. Not in places like Suai or Liquica - small towns stained by massacre, torture or rape - but on the streets of the capital Dili. And in the presidential office.

This report will not lead directly to criminal trials, but it might lead to an apology, perhaps compensation, and it will be another push in the direction of army reform.

That will not satisfy many of the victims, but it does not have to be the end of the road.

-------------------------------

Indonesia says no apology over Timor violence probe

JAKARTA, July 14 (Reuters) - The Indonesian president will express regret but not apologise over a state-backed probe into the violence during East Timor's 1999 independence vote, Indonesia's defence minister said on Monday.

The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) is expected to submit its findings to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta for their approval on Tuesday on the island of Bali.

The report, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, says Indonesian security and civilian forces carried out "gross human rights violations" and also recommended the presidents of both Indonesia and East Timor apologise to their people.

"There will be no apology, it is only about remorse, which is deep regret by both parties, from both governments, both presidents for their people," Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono told Indonesia's parliament. Some commentators have expressed surprise the report went as far as it did in blaming Indonesia, but Sudarsono said it was wrong to suggest that it was blaming only Jakarta.

"First, the mistakes were on both sides," he said, adding that the report was also forward looking and seeking to heal on both sides.

The two governments set up the CTF in 2005 to look into the violence, but it has no power to prosecute, prompting criticism that it serves to whitewash atrocities. It has been boycotted by the U.N.

East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesian rule in 1999 and the United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese died during the post-vote mayhem. (Reporting by Telly Nathalia, Writing by Ed Davies)

---------------------------------

The Age (Melbourne, Australia) July 14, 2008

No sorry, but regret from Indonesian President

Mark Forbes, Denpasar

PRESIDENT Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will reject a recommendation he apologise for Indonesia instigating gross human rights abuses during East Timor's 1999 independence vote, instead expressing regret, according to his Defence Minister, Juwono Sudarsono.

In Bali today Dr Yudhoyono and his East Timorese counterpart, Jose Ramos-Horta, will jointly accept the report of the Commission of Truth and Friendship into the atrocities.

The report, leaked to The Age last week, blames Indonesia for a co-ordinated campaign of violence, including murder, rape and tortures against Timorese civilians. It recommends both presidents apologise for their contribution to the carnage.

Questioned before a parliament yesterday Mr Sudarsono said both sides had made mistakes during the transition to independence. "There will be no apology, it is only about remorse, which is deep regret by both parties, from both governments, both presidents for their people," Mr Sudarsono said.

East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia in 1999 and the UN estimates about 1000 East Timorese died during the post-vote mayhem. The report found both sides committed human rights abuses, but lays responsibility at Indonesia's feet, stating it sanctioned an organised campaign of violence and terror by pro-Indonesian militias, which led to a military intervention by the UN and Australia.

The commission was established by both presidents in an effort to repair relations. Without the power to recommend prosecutions, it was designed to head off calls for Indonesian officials to be prosecuted for war crimes.

An East Timorese member of the commission, Dionisio Babo Soares, said the report would help bring closure.

"Victims have been the priority of the commissioners in debating the recommendations, so as long as these things are addressed in an appropriate way, I believe very much that people in East Timor, particularly the victims, will not need go beyond the expectations of what the commissioners have written in the report," he said.

The Indonesian Government has said it recognises its "moral obligation" to act on the findings of the East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission. A member of the Indonesian parliament's foreign affairs committee, Djoko Susilo, criticised the attribution of blame to Indonesia. "The report shows moral punishment for both TNI (Army) in particular and the Indonesian people in general. It is not in accordance to what we expect.

"From what I read in the newspapers, the actions committed by the East Timorese militia were not proportionally uncovered."

Mr Susilo rejected any moves to prosecute military officials, but supported the report being used to reform the military.

---------------------------------

The Age (Melbourne, Australia) July 14, 2008

Op-Ed

Australia's shame over East Timor

Daniel Flitton

For years, ties with Indonesia were put ahead of the human rights of the Timorese.

THE sorry history of violence in East Timor did not begin with the militia rampage following the 1999 independence ballot. For more than two decades after Indonesia's 1975 invasion, the Timorese suffered. Thousands needlessly died. And all the while, the tiny country's powerful southern neighbour did worse than stand idly by — instead, successive governments in Canberra supported Jakarta's illegal occupation.

Australians are rightly proud of the tremendous role played in establishing and leading the international peacekeeping force deployed in September 1999. Alexander Downer, foreign minister during the Howard years, ranks it among his greatest achievements. But none of this absolves Australia of the responsibility of pursuing a shameful and ultimately self-defeating policy over many years, one that valued close ties with Indonesia ahead of human rights for the Timorese.

Both sides of politics share responsibility for this mistake, and the lessons should not be ignored.

Australia was so eager to maintain good relations with Jakarta, that the Howard government refused to acknowledge what was plain in the run-up to the independence ballot and has once again been demonstrated by the official inquiry into the episode — the Indonesian state "organised (a) campaign of violence" to intimidate the local people.

When that effort failed, and the East Timorese voted bravely for independence, the military-backed militias forced thousands of people across the border.

The signs of this impending violence were clear to the Australian government months before, as was the complicity of the Indonesian military.

As early as March 4, 1999, the Defence Intelligence Organisation sent a confidential report, warning "the (Indonesian) military in East Timor are clearly protecting, and in some instances operating with the militias". It went on to claim the military "will continue to support intimidation and violence, or at least won't prevent it". A few days later, Downer defended Australia's refusal to push for international troops to protect the Timorese, saying: "We hope that there won't be a need for a peacekeeping force because if you need a peacekeeping force, you need a peace to keep and peace first has to be negotiated and we hope that when the peace is negotiated it will be a peaceful peace that won't require a peacekeeping force."

The Australian government put its faith in the Indonesian military to provide security, even though it knew those same forces — local commanders with the tacit support of senior Indonesian generals, according to DIO — were orchestrating a campaign of violence in Timor.

An Australian parliamentary inquiry in late 2000 drew similarly damning conclusions: "Until the latter part of 1999, all governments have publicly played down reports of human rights abuses in the territory. They were prepared to accept Indonesian Government assurances and explanations, and support them, even in the face of other contradictory evidence."

Downer often cites a letter John Howard sent to Indonesian president B. J. Habibie in late 1998 as the turning point in Australia's approach to East Timor. This is a partial reading of history. For years, successive Australian governments defended inaction on East Timor by claiming it had very little influence in Jakarta on the issue, so the significance of the letter is debatable. Indeed, the letter actually pushed for an entirely different outcome — autonomy for East Timor, under formal Indonesian sovereignty.

In other words, Australia still hoped East Timor would remain part of Indonesia. It was Habibie's impulsive gesture to offer the Timorese the choice of independence or autonomy almost immediately, a decision that shocked Australia.

Howard has previously defended his government's approach to the independence ballot, claiming to push for early Australian boots on the ground would have been tantamount to an invasion of Indonesia. No doubt this was a delicate situation, and in the aftermath of the ballot when the militias unleashed their fury, Australia was a leader in putting together a quick response. But the genesis of Australia's flawed approach to Timor lay much earlier, in the recognition of Indonesia's illegal takeover and occupation of East Timor.

In this, the Australian government was out of step with Australian public opinion. More importantly, it ignored the will of the Timorese people.

Daniel Flitton is diplomatic editor.


Back to July menu 
June

World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu