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ETAN Mourns Death of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah; Urges Justice for Victims of Indonesian Military and Militia Violence

For Immediate Release 
September 6, 2000

Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391 
Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6911

"The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) is deeply saddened and angered at the confirmation of Jafar Siddiq Hamzah's murder," said John M. Miller, , spokesperson for ETAN. 

"ETAN often worked with Jafar to address human rights issues and military violence in Indonesia and East Timor. We have lost a friend and colleague. The world has lost a tireless advocate for human rights, and the people of Aceh and Indonesia have lost an advocate for peace and the rule of law," said Miller.

"If those responsible think they have deterred others who share Jafar's goals, they should think again. We can honor his memory best by continuing his work to promote justice and bring the Indonesian military to account for their numerous crimes," added Miller.

"Our hearts go out to his family and to the families of the four others whose bodies were found with Jafar," said Miller.

"The U.S. and Indonesian governments must ensure that those responsible for Jafar's torture and murder are brought to justice," said Karen Orenstein, of ETAN's Washington Office.

Jafar Siddiq Hamzah was last seen on August 5 in Medan, Indonesia, where he failed to keep an afternoon appointment. His mutilated body was found with four others outside Medan on September 5.

"The kidnapping and murder of such a prominent human rights activist shows that no one is safe," said Miller.

ETAN called on the international community to strengthen democracy and human rights in Indonesia by publicly suspending all assistance to the Indonesian military and police until those forces are brought under firm civilian control and no longer torture and kill Indonesians and East Timorese. Those responsible for crimes -- including Hamzah's murder and the recent killings of U.N. aid workers in West Timor -- must also be brought to justice; other critical conditions include the safe return of East Timorese refugees trapped in West Timor and the disarming and disbanding of militias and the arrest of militia leaders.

"Indonesian human rights organizations point out that because Jafar disappeared without a trace in a crowded city in broad daylight, he was likely kidnapped by military operatives. The Indonesian police investigation so far has proven totally inadequate. There must be civilian oversight of any future investigation, preferably including independent human rights advocates," said Orenstein.

"Jafar's case merits formation of a high level civilian investigation team that includes the participation of the Indonesian attorney general's office and Komnas HAM, Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights. The Clinton Administration should publicly call for the formation of such a team, which should also include international officials and human rights advocates. Leaving the investigation to the Indonesian police (PolRI) seriously compromises its integrity and transparency, given PolRI's record of severe repression in Aceh and elsewhere," said Orenstein.

Acehnese by birth but a permanent U.S. resident, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah founded and chaired the International Forum on Aceh (IFA), a non-governmental organization campaigning for peace and human rights in Aceh. Serious human rights violations are routine in the region, where a strong independence movement is active and more than 300 people have been killed this year, most by Indonesian security forces.

Through the IFA, Jafar worked to alert the world of military crackdowns in his homeland. He had pursued a degree in political science at the New School For Social Research in New York since 1999, where he was enrolled or the fall semester.


ETAN's Media Release on the Anniversary of Jafar's Disappearance

Background and other information on Jafar's Disappearance


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