East Timor Action Network Publishes Text of Suppressed UN
Report on 1999 Destruction
Crimes Against Humanity Were a Planned
Indonesian Military Operation, Report Says
For Immediate Release
April 25, 2001
John M. Miller, (718)596-7668;
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) today published the
full text of a United Nations-commissioned report on Indonesian military
(TNI) crimes against humanity in East Timor. The report is now available
on the internet at http://www.etan.org/news/2001a/dunn1.htm.
The document, "Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor, January to
October 1999: Their Nature and Causes," was written by former
Australian diplomat James Dunn, an independent consultant to the Chief
Prosecutor for the UN Transitional Administration in East Timorís
(UNTAET). ETAN obtained the report from a source associated with the
UNTAET officials do not plan to release the report, which was submitted
to them in mid-February. It names some of the key Indonesian commanders
most directly involved in planning and implementing the violence
surrounding East Timor's UN-organized independence referendum in 1999. A
UN spokesperson has said that the UN is not releasing the report out of
concern that it will hinder negotiations with Indonesia.
"We believe it is crucial that those responsible for East Timor's
destruction be held accountable," said John M. Miller, spokesperson
for ETAN. "Prosecution of the Indonesian military officers
responsible is necessary both for East Timor's future security and
Indonesia's transition to democracy. Open discussion of the report's
findings best serves all involved -- the UN, the Indonesian government and
people, and the people of East Timor."
The report concludes "the campaign of massive destruction,
deportation and killings in September  was essentially an operation
planned and carried out by the TNI, with militia participation, to punish
the people of East Timor for their vote against integration."
"An international tribunal is needed if the East Timorese are to
see justice for the crimes committed against them. As of now, no
Indonesian military officers have been indicted, much less tried for the
crimes recounted in Dunn's report," said Miller.
"Justice cannot be served in Indonesian courts because many East
Timorese are too traumatized to travel to Indonesia to testify. Also, the
military command has consistently blocked UN investigations, refusing to
extradite suspects or even to allow them to be questioned. In fact, many
of the officers named in the report maintain positions of authority in the
TNI," he added.
After numerous delays, the Indonesian government recently authorized an
ad hoc human rights court on East Timor. But the court itself has not been
set up, and its mandate is restricted to "gross human rights
violations that occurred in East Timor after the self-determination
vote" of August 30, 1999, precluding prosecution for numerous crimes
committed before that date.
"Any Indonesian trials are fraught with so many legal, practical
and political problems that any convictions of high-ranking officers are
extremely unlikely," said Miller.
East Timorese Nobel peace laureate Bishop Belo and the
NGO Forum of
East Timor both recently reiterated their support for a tribunal.
"Justice must not be restricted to a chosen few. It must be
universal," Belo said in an April 16 speech in Sydney, Australia.
Arsenio Bano, the executive director of NGO Forum, asked, "If the
perpetrators of crimes against humanity cannot be brought before an
International Court, then where are they going to be tried?"
Although many charge the militias with responsibility for the "the
reign of terror" in East Timor during 1999, Dunn writes that
"their actions flowed from the command involvement of TNI officers,
sometimes from direct orders, or from the provision of military training,
weapons, money and, according to militia members, drugs."
The report reviews systematic human rights abuses by the Indonesian
military from Indonesia's 1975' invasion of East Timor on, providing a
context for the destruction before and after the 1999 vote. "It is
important that this pattern of behaviour on the part of the Indonesian
military be taken into account when judging the events of 1999," Dunn
Dunn recommends that investigations be "stepped up," focusing
on the role of TNI commanders with a "view to laying charges,"
and that "In the event that no progress is made in Indonesia towards
bringing to justice those responsible... immediate steps should be taken
to negotiate the setting up of an international tribunal for this
purpose." The report also calls for "a thorough investigation of
what transpired and of who was responsible for crimes committed in East
Timor" since 1975 and opening negotiations with Indonesia on
reparations for "the massive destruction... and organised theft of
property" in East Timor. "Its development was in effect set back
more than a generation," Dunn writes.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. was founded following the
November 1991 massacre. ETAN supports a genuine and peaceful transition to
an independent East Timor. ETAN has 27 local chapters throughout the U.S.
April 23, 2001
Nobel Laureate Appeals For East Timor
SYDNEY (AP)--Nobel peace laureate Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor
appealed Monday for an international tribunal to punish crimes against
humanity in his country and help the fledgling nation come to terms with
atrocities committed after it voted for independence from Indonesia.
Belo said the United Nations should set up an international court
similar to those already meting out justice for atrocities in the former
Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
"Justice must not be restricted to a chosen few. It must be
universal," he said in a speech in Sydney.
Belo said the East Timorese did not trust investigations launched in
Jakarta into atrocities sparked by the former Indonesian province's vote
for independence in August 1999.
Hundreds of people were killed and an estimated 80% of East Timor's
infrastructure was destroyed by pro-Indonesian militia gangs and troops
following the popular vote that ended 24 years of rule by Jakarta.
U.N. staff are already investigating the atrocities and are expected to
indict as many as 400 suspects, including some top Indonesian military
The Indonesian probe was launched under a U.N. directive to prosecute
members of its military and civil administration for their roles in the
blood bath or face the possible establishment of a U.N. tribunal.
Indonesia's attorney general's office has prepared a list of 23
potential suspects. However, no formal charges have been filed.
"We have no faith in the investigations being conducted in
Jakarta. Those who authorized the crimes in East Timor will not face
justice there," Belo said.
"It is our belief that only an international court will be able to
prosecute the generals and commanders who were behind the September 1999
violence. It is clear that what happened in East Timor was not a
spontaneous response by Timorese who wanted to stay with Indonesia."
Last week, a former Australian diplomat, James Dunn, handed a report to
U.N. investigators accusing senior Indonesian army generals of
masterminding the violence, but U.N. officials distanced themselves from
its findings, parts of which were published in Australia.
"It is his own report and reflects his own views," said U.N.
chief prosecutor Mohamed Othman.
Belo, who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with fellow East Timorese
independence campaigner Jose Ramos Horta, said his tiny nation needed
justice to help it move forward.
"While we believe in and promote reconciliation, the people of
East Timor are crying out for justice against the perpetrators of the
horrendous crimes committed during Indonesian occupation. Without justice,
the brokenness continues," he said.
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