International Federation for East Timor


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Letter to World Bank:
NGOs Urges Postponement of CGI Donor Meeting

22 September 2000

President James D. Wolfensohn 
World Bank 
1818 H Street, NW 
Washington, D.C. 20433 USA 

Dear President Wolfensohn: 

On behalf of the International Federation for East Timor (IFET), I would like to thank you for your recent forthright statements calling on the Indonesian government to put a stop to militia violence in West and East Timor. As you reminded President Wahid on 12 September, this issue is being "watched closely by the international community." 

Unfortunately, events of the last ten days demonstrate that the Indonesian government is not taking international concerns very seriously. That government's defiance of the United Nations Security Council, and its attempts to put off the international community by making less than credible promises to act if the military-backed militias fail to disarm themselves, increase the necessity for the international community to take decisive action. 

Consequently, we are asking you to indefinitely postpone the next meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI), currently scheduled for October in Tokyo. It can be rescheduled after Indonesia has restored peace and order to West Timor, and established the conditions necessary for the return home of the East Timorese refugees who have been trapped there for more than a year. 

As you no doubt recall, your letter to President Habibie in September, 1999, was critical in persuading the Indonesian government to abide by the vote in East Timor, withdraw its troops, and allow the U.N.-sanctioned InterFET force to enter the territory. At that time, you told the Indonesian President that "for the international financial community to be able to continue its full support, it is critical that you act swiftly to restore order and that your government carry through on its public commitment to honor the referendum outcome." 

Within a week, Indonesia acted, but only after 70% of East Timor's buildings had been destroyed and three-fourths of its population displaced. And today, a year later, more than 100,000 East Timorese are still virtual hostages in West Timor. 

Indonesia has not met its commitment to honor the referendum outcome for more than 12% of the East Timorese people. Those refugees now endure unimaginable terror after all international personnel have withdrawn, giving the militias and their military allies free rein. Escalating militia activity, unrestricted by the Indonesian government, threatens East Timorese, Indonesians, and international people on both sides of the border. 

On September 8, 2000, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1319, insisting "that the Government of Indonesia take immediate additional steps, in fulfillment of its responsibilities, to disarm and disband the militia immediately, restore law and order in the affected areas in West Timor, ensure safety and security in the refugee camps and for humanitarian workers, and prevent cross-border incursions into East Timor." Although the Security Council decided to send a mission to West Timor, the Indonesian government has effectively blocked that action, no militia have been disarmed, and security remains unattainable. 

On September 12, 2000, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited Jakarta, and warned that "The murder of the UNHCR staff painfully demonstrates no program of repatriation or transmigration can move forward until the security situation is restored and the militias have been disbanded. And a failure to do so will have consequences for Jakarta's relations with the international community and it could in fact jeopardize continued economic assistance." 

Although you have reiterated your concerns since then, the Indonesian government continues to be intransigent. Government ministers issue unfounded allegations about foreign covert activities or declare that the East Timorese people want Indonesia to again occupy their country. A xenophobic backlash is being cultivated in Jakarta - inciting nationalism to justify continued military and militia violence. 

A few days ago, you said "I would like to see the militia under control. That is not in my power. It has to be in someone's and it is my hope that he will be able to do it." Although it is not in your power to directly control the militias, you can take a critical step to advance that goal. We urge you to delay the CGI meeting. 

On September 12, the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) demanded that "the World Bank postpone the CGI meeting in mid-October until Indonesia proves its good will and determination by dismantling the terrorist training camps on Indonesian territory, disarms and arrests all those responsible for the present violence in West Timor and the incursions into East Timorese territory and, resumes the voluntary repatriation process, without any further obstacles, of all the East Timorese who remain unwillingly in West Timor." 

We support that demand, as do many other organizations and people of good will around the world. 

Although President Wahid and Attorney General Marzuki may have good intentions, the continued defiance by members of the military and the militias besmirches Indonesia's reputation. By standing firm against the military's efforts to dictate to the elected government in Jakarta, the United Nations, World Bank and other international institutions can support democracy, justice, and human rights. 

Indonesia is not entitled to benefit from the largesse of international funding until it conforms to international norms of diplomacy, justice and law. The CGI should not meet until the Indonesian Government has: 

a) secured law and order in West Timor, thereby securing unimpeded access by UNHCR and other relief agencies to the refugees; and 

b) Disarmed and disbanded all the militia groups in West Timor, removed the militias from the refugee camps, and arrested militia leaders; 

c) Carried out an independent investigation into this month's violence in Atambua, and begun trials for those responsible; 

d) Acted in accordance with its international obligations to ensure the safe repatriation of all East Timorese refugees who wish to return home. 

In addition to your helpful letters to Indonesian Presidents last September and last week, the World Bank has played an important role in the reconstruction and development of East Timor, helping to ensure that most East Timorese people can enjoy the independence they suffered and voted for. 

We hope you will support them once again, by delaying discussion of funding Indonesia until they allow all East Timorese people, on both sides of the border, to live without militia and military terror. 

Thank you. Sincerely,

Charles A. Scheiner 
U.N. Representative, International Federation for East Timor

cc: CGI members, media


IFET Media Release

For Immediate Release 
September 22, 2000

Contact: Charles A. Scheiner, 1-914-428-7299

East Timor Federation Urges Delay of Indonesia Aid Meet Says CGI Should Await Efforts on East Timorese Refugees

The International Federation for East Timor (IFET) today urged the World Bank to postpone the upcoming meeting of the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI). In a letter to James D. Wolfensohn, President of the bank, IFET said the meeting should be postponed until Indonesia has "restored peace and order to West Timor, and established the conditions necessary for the East Timorese refugees who have been trapped there for more than a year to return home."

IFET wrote "Indonesia is not entitled to benefit from the largesse of international funding until it conforms to international norms of diplomacy, justice and law."

The letter praises Wolfensohn's efforts on behalf of East Timor. Following the murder of three UN humanitarian workers in West Timor by Indonesian military-backed militia, Wolfensohn wrote to Indonesia's President Wahid warning that his actions on West Timor are being "watched closely by the international community."

In September 1999, Wolfensohn wrote then-President Habibie urging Indonesian government to abide by the pro-independence vote in East Timor, withdraw its troops, and allow the U.N.- sanctioned InterFET force to enter the territory. Within a week, Indonesia acted, but not until 70% of East Timor's buildings had been destroyed and three-fourths of its population displaced. More than 100,000 East Timorese remain in West Timor.

The CGI, chaired by the World Bank, is next scheduled to meet in mid-October in Tokyo. Members of the CGI include the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and bilateral donors including the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Denmark and Australia. More than $5 billion is expected to be pledged at this year's meeting.

Below is a copy of the letter or see: http://www.etan.org/ifet/media17.html.

In the months leading up to last year's August 30 vote in East Timor, the International Federation for East Timor sent 140 non-partisan observers to East Timor to observe the U.N.-administered consultation process. IFET was formed in 1991 to support the self-determination process for East Timor at the United Nations. It now has 39 member groups from 23 countries.

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World Bank's response

 

The World Bank 
Washington, D.C. 20433 U.S.A.

JAMES D. WOLFENSOHN, President

September 24, 2000

Mr. Charles A. Scheiner U.N. Representative, International Federation for East Timor P.O. Box 1182, White Plains NY 10602 U.S.A.

Dear Mr, Scheiner,

Thank you for your letter of September 22. I very much share your concern over recent events in West Timor. As you note, I have written to President Wahid and spoken publicly about the need to take concrete action to end the violence in West Timor and allow those who want to return home to Past Timor to do so in safety. However, I am also concerned about the fragile democratic transition in Indonesia -- and the plight of the many millions of poor people in Indonesia who are struggling to recover from the economic crisis. That is why, following consultations with the donor community, we have decided that the CGI meeting should go ahead as planned in October. In my meetings in Prague with Indonesian officials, I have again stressed the importance of taking concrete actions on West Timor to ensure a successful outcome from the CGI meeting. I very much hope that we will see real progress soon.

With best wishes,

Sincerely yours,

 /s/ 

James D. Wolfensohn (from Prague)


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