Subject: Campaign to Heal East Timor Pain Begun

[An alternative view from "A third bishop, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Carlos Belo of East Timor, stressed judicial accountability for human rights violators, particularly for Indonesian army generals who committed atrocities against Timorese civilians during Indonesia’s long occupation between 1975 and 1999. But Belo has also spoken for reconciliation, which East Timor has pursued through community justice panels that combine truth-telling by victims with apologies and community service that aim to reintegrate perpetrators of atrocities back into their societies. " - JMM/ETAN

Jakarta Globe

April 30, 2009

Heru Andriyanto

Campaign to Heal East Timor Pain Begun

A national campaign to wash away the bitter memories of the 1999 violent clashes in East Timor began in Indonesia on Thursday, with officials from both countries reasserting their commitment not to pursue individual responsibility for the tragedy.

“We have to look at the 1999 tragedy through today’s perspective,” said Lt. Gen. (ret) Agus Widjojo, a member of the now-disbanded Commission of Truth and Friendship, a body established in 2005 to investigate the incidents in East Timor.

“Indonesia and East Timor have chosen to … forge a closer friendship rather than turn to any sort of prosecution,” he said in a seminar in Jakarta that marked the start of a campaign to disseminate the commission’s findings and recommendations.

The commission published last year the findings of an inquiry that acknowledged gross human rights violations committed by Indonesian officers and militia groups that fought over the independence of East Timor in 1999, but stopped short of calling for prosecution against suspected individuals.

The 380-page report urges “institutional responsibility” and bilateral ties, but refrains from recommending the establishment of a rights tribunal.

“The commission has not cited individual names because we want to focus on institutional responsibility,” said Cirillo Cristovao, a former commission member representing East Timor.

“For the same reasons, we haven’t recommended amnesty or rehabilitation for any individuals either,” he said.

The commission’s report, which was finalized in March 2008, but only became available to the public last week, says, “We have come to a conclusion that gross human rights violations occurred in East Timor in 1999 in the forms of murder, rape, torture, illegal detention and forcible eviction targeting civilians.”

It also says pro-Jakarta militia groups, the Indonesian military, or TNI, civil agencies and the National Police share responsibility for the rights abuses against pro-independence supporters.

“The commission found that TNI commanders in East Timor controlled the supply, distribution and operation of arms by militia groups,” the report says.

In a separate interview, Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, former head of the Indonesian delegation for the commission, said both governments had agreed to work toward stronger bilateral ties.

“The two governments are now focusing on strengthening bilateral cooperation and finding ways to prevent the recurrence of gross human rights violations. That’s what we call institutional responsibility,” Benjamin told the Jakarta Globe.

Benjamin said there was no need for a formal apology because “the two governments have forgiven each other.”

The campaign to disseminate the commission’s reports and recommendations would be active across the country, he said.

The commission handed the report and recommendations to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta during their meeting in Bali last July.

Both leaders and East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao issued a joint statement accepting the conclusions and recommendations of the report.

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