Subject: AN: Komnas Ham Approves Formation Of Independent Commission In East Tim
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 09:19:51 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>


Dili, E Timor, March 23 (ANTARA) - The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has approved the establishment of an independent commission on human rights in East Timor (Kihamtil) in an effort to reconcile all factions in the local society and end all forms of human rights abuses, a commission spokesman said.

Speaking to reporters here Tuesday shortly before boarding a plane for Jakarta, Komnas HAM spokesman Clementino Dos Reis Amaral said the newly-established rights commission would unite all East Timorese in responding to Jakarta's two options for the settlement of the East Timor issue. In addition, the commission would also be in charge of protecting non-native East Timor residents, including doctors and teachers, so they need not flee the province for fear of ill treatment by locals, Amaral said. He said 95 percent of doctors, teachers and businessmen in the troubled province, came from outside East Timor so that the commission would do its best to restrain them from leaving the territory.

The Kihamtil consists of 30 members. The number of its membership can be increased as the need arises.

In carrying out its activities, he said, the commission would suggest that the security forces and armed civilians temporarily stop their military operations so that the people could talk about their future in a free and relaxed manner.

The commission has also suggested to the onflicting parties to put their weapons down to create peace and order in the province.

The Kihamtil is due to hold its plenary session after the UN-sponsored tripartite meeting between Indonesia and Portugal on April 22-23, 1999.

Meanwhile, BN.Marbun and Mj.Gen (ret.) Syamsuddin, members of Komnas HAM, said the local people accepted the establishment of the rights commission in East Timor because it represented all factions in East Timorese society.

"This commission will be active until July so that we hope that it will be able to anticipate any possible human rights abuses here. All parties must be responsible for human rights protection," Marbun said.

In Syamsuddin's point of view, the rights commission might also work with the UN-sponsored team to monitor the direct ballot on whether the East Timorese accept or reject the UN-backed autonomy package which is scheduled to be held in July.

During its 12-day visit here, the Komnas HAM special team had also focussed on security and order issues as open conflicts between the two rival parties appeared constantly immiment, Syamsuddin said.

"This commission will not be in charge of political choices on whether the people still want integration or wish independence. This commission only wants to see to it that the people's consultation process can proceed without human rights abuses," he added.

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