ETAN Calls UN Deaths in West Timor Preventable
For Immediate Release
September 6, 2000
Contact: John M. Miller, (718)5967668; (917)690-4391 (mobile);
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. called today's brutal murder of U.N.
personnel in West Timor tragically preventable." These killings never
should have happened. They stem directly from the failure of Indonesian
authorities to keep repeated promises to stop militia violence and protect
humanitarian workers," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
"World leaders now in New York for the UN's Millennium Summit must
be unequivocal in demanding that Indonesia meet its commitments to secure
the border with East Timor, protect international humanitarian workers,
meet international standards of human rights, and assure the safe return
of some 100,000 refugees still trapped in West Timor," said Miller.
ETAN described the attack on the U.N. in West Timor as yet another of
many recent egregious examples of an out-of-control military acting
through militia proxies.
ETAN called on the U.S. and other governments to strengthen security in
West and East Timor by publicly suspending all military assistance to the
Indonesian military (TNI) and police until critical conditions are met,
including safe return of East Timorese refugees, disarming and disbanding
of militia groups, and arrest and extradition of militia leaders.
"A direct military role in the attack may never be confirmed, but
the Indonesian military clearly created, armed and trained the militia
groups. In the over 100 reported attacks on UN workers in West Timor since
last September, Indonesian security forces have often stood by and allowed
militia violence to continue unhindered. TNI must bear ultimate
responsibility for these acts and omissions," said Miller.
ETAN also cited the disappearance of Acehnese human rights lawyer,
Jafar Siddiq Hamzah. A U.S-resident, Hamzah's body is believed to be among
five bodies recently found in Northern Sumatra near where he disappeared.
"An international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for
violence in East Timor is necessary to realize justice for the East
Timorese. It would have the added effect of helping to ensure security for
the refugees and those working to assist them. Indonesia should arrest
known militia leaders immediately place them under protective custody, and
turn them over to U.N. authorities for prosecution," said Lynn
Fredriksson, Washington Representative for ETAN.
"The U.S. and others would do well to side with the forces of
democracy in both Indonesia and East Timor; support for an international
tribunal ultimately translates into support for greater military and
judicial reform," she said .
"Any form of U.S. assistance to the Indonesian military
contributes to the unraveling of Indonesia's fragile democratization,
betrays our commitment to genuine self-determination in East Timor, and
violates the intent of Congress in withholding aid to human rights
abusers," added Fredriksson. "The killing of human rights
advocate Jafar Siddiq Hamzah and hundreds of others in Aceh, and the
recent fatal attacks on international aid workers in West Timor require
the U.S. to take unequivocal, decisive public action, before more lose
Four people, including at least three international staff, were killed
at the UNHCR office in Atambua. Witnesses said the militia beat the
foreign UN workers to death and burned their bodies.
An estimated 100,000 refugees remain in West Timor and elsewhere in
Indonesia. UNHCR had suspended its operations in West Timor following an
August 22 attack on three staff members severely beaten by suspected
militia members. The agency resumed activities on August 29 after
Indonesian authorities arrested two of the alleged assailants and promised
to increase security for humanitarian workers.
For more information see http://www.etan.org/.
The East Timor Action Network/ U.S. (ETAN) was founded in
November 1991 to support East Timorese self-determination. ETAN now works
for a peaceful transition to independence in East Timor. It has 28 local
chapters throughout the U.S.
and reaction to deaths (Sept. 2000)
UNHCR: Summary report of inquiry into Atambua killings
(Dec. 8, 2000; PDF file)
Downgrade Of Charges In West Timor Killings (March 27, 2001)
Indonesian Court's Timor Murder Sentences (May 4, 2001)
resolution on murder of UNHCR workers in W Timor (June 20, 2001)
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