Also: IHRN Urges New Indonesian President to Curtail
Military and Police Abuses; Some E Timorese Fear
Megawati's Ascension May Be Negative
East Timor Action Network Urges New Indonesian President to
Show Support for East Timor
Calls for Crackdown on Militia, Establishment of an International
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, (718)
596-7668; (917) 690-4391
July 23 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) warned today that past
actions of new Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri suggested that
her rule could adversely affect East Timor. ETAN urged her to begin her
presidency by addressing the worsening refugee crisis in West Timor and
supporting an international tribunal for East Timor. ETAN urged her to act
swiftly to disarm and disband militia now destabilizing East Timor and
controlling East Timorese refugees in Indonesia. To support the rule of
law in Indonesia during this transitional time, the United Nations must
act to establish an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against
humanity committed in East Timor and the Bush administration in the U.S.
must maintain the current suspension of military ties with Indonesia, ETAN
“Megawati has close ties to the Indonesian military and has
repeatedly expressed her disagreement with the process that lead to East
Timor’s overwhelming vote for independence in 1999. She must now
demonstrate genuine respect for human rights and accountability for crimes
against humanity committed by the armed forces,” said John M. Miller,
spokesperson for ETAN.
"She must act now to dismantle the military-supported militia in
West Timor and agree to an international tribunal on East Timor,"
continued Miller. "These steps would do a lot to reassure the
international community and the people of East Timor that she does not
bear ill-will toward its neighbor."
Megawati has yet to express any sympathy with East Timorese for the
gross human rights committed by the Indonesian military during its
occupation of East Timor. She has refused to meet with East Timorese
leaders or the United Nations which is currently administering the
“Given the Indonesian military’s continued political power and its
ties to Megawati, the international community must recognize that
Indonesia is not capable of prosecuting the Indonesian military and
political leaders responsible for crimes against humanity committed in
East Timor from 1975 onwards,” said Miller. "We urge members of UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council to take the steps
necessary to establish an international tribunal to prosecute crimes
against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor."
“It is vital that the U.S. maintain its suspension of military ties
with Indonesia. Renewal of ties would send the worst possible signal,”
said Miller. “Any re-engagement with the military at this time would
severely undercut reform efforts.”
Megawati Sukarnoputri's political party, the Indonesian Democratic
Party of Struggle, includes notorious East Timorese militia leader Eurico
Guterres as a leader of its youth wing. A recent meeting of the party also
included representatives from East Timor, indicating the party did not
recognize East Timor as a country separate from Indonesia.
Up to 80,000 East Timorese refugees remain trapped in poor conditions
in Indonesian West Timor under the control of militias backed by elements
of the Indonesian military. No Indonesian security forces personnel have
been held accountable for crimes committed in East Timor before or after
the referendum. In a report issued January 30, 2000, an international
commission of inquiry of the UN Commission on Human Rights recommended
establishing an international human rights tribunal for East Timor.
On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for
independence in a UN-conducted referendum, ending a 24 year-long
occupation by Indonesia. Immediately following the ballot, the Indonesian
military and its militia proxies conducted a month-long scorched earth
campaign in East Timor. The same legislature that just appointed Megawati
to Indonesia's presidency and removed her predecessor voted in October
1999 to accept the results of East Timor's vote for independence.
In early September 1999, the U.S. suspended military assistance to
Indonesia. In November 1999, the U.S. Congress passed the “Leahy
conditions” which mandate that, prior to resuming the bulk of military
support, the East Timorese refugees must be able to safely return home,
military and militia must be prosecuted for atrocities in East Timor and
Indonesia, and East Timor's security must not be compromised by military
or militia activity. None of these conditions have yet to be met.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. supports human dignity for
the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, sustainable
development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights,
including women's rights. ETAN has 28 local chapters. For additional
information see ETAN's web site (http://www.etan.org).
For Immediate Release Contact:
Megan Walsh (202) 544-1211 or Lynn
Fredriksson (202) 546-0044
Indonesia Human Rights Network Urges New Indonesian President to
Curtail Military and Police Abuses
July 23, 2001-- The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) today called
on Megawati Sukarnoputri to halt a crackdown by Indonesian security forces
on human rights activists and other civilians in Aceh, West Papua and
elsewhere in the archipelago. Megawati was appointed President of
Indonesia on Monday morning, following the impeachment of Abdurrahman
Wahid in a Special Session of the Indonesian parliament. "We urge all
Indonesian forces-police and military-to refrain from violent action
during this potentially volatile transition," said Megan Walsh for
So far today Jakarta has remained relatively calm, as Wahid (known as
Gus Dur) refused to leave the presidential mansion. But military and
police operations have been escalating throughout Indonesia for weeks. In
Aceh security forces have pitted minority Gayos people against Javanese
transmigrants; they are responsible for massacres, house burnings, and the
displacement of thousands in Central Aceh. In West Papua, BRIMOB mobile
police and Kopassus special forces have been carrying out massive
"sweeps" against civilians, arresting dozens and displacing
"In this political climate activists in Jakarta fear the security
forces could target them too. Human rights advocates in Aceh and West
Papua, already under attack, fear an even worse clampdown," said Lynn
Fredriksson, Co-founder of IHRN. "It's been weeks of intensified
raids, arrests and beatings in Aceh, targeting prominent human rights
organizations. As a show of good will, President Megawati Sukarnoputri
should immediately stop these atrocities by ordering police and military
to desist. Nothing could do more to stabilize Indonesia."
In other areas of Indonesia, police and military frequently condone
militia violence, as in Maluku where they fuel Christian-Muslim conflict.
In West Timor, militias acting as military proxies still control the fate
of tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees.
"The Indonesia Human Rights Network urges Megawati to do
everything in her power to put an end to military and police violence, and
to work to establish a judiciary with the authority, capacity and support
to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice,"
said Walsh. "In order to prevent further violations, Megawati should
act quickly to open access to conflict areas throughout Indonesia to
international human rights and humanitarian workers, and the press. She
should invite in UN special rapporteurs."
The United States has withheld most assistance from the Indonesian
military since it leveled East Timor, with militia proxies, in September
1999. Most U.S. military assistance is now restricted by what are known as
the "Leahy conditions." None of these conditions has been met.
"IHRN urges the U.S. government to uphold its commitment to
genuine reform by maintaining all current restrictions on military
assistance and refraining from police assistance to Indonesia until the
most basic human rights of people throughout the archipelago are
respected," said Fredriksson.
The Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) is a U.S.-based grassroots
organization working to educate and activate the American public and
influence U.S. foreign policy and international economic interests to
support democracy, demilitarization, and justice through accountability
and rule of law in Indonesia. IHRN seeks to end armed forces repression in
Indonesia by exposing it to international scrutiny. IHRN works with and
advocates on behalf of people throughout the Indonesian archipelago to
strengthen civil society.
IHRN members and advisors are available for interviews.
- 30 -
Indonesia: Megawati opens party conference in Jakarta
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom;
Jul 13, 2001
Jakarta: PDIP leader Megawati Soekarnoputri yesterday (12 July) evening
opened a national meeting of the party, to run [at the Hotel Aryaduta,
Central Jakarta] until 14 July...
Detikcom noted that all regional senior office-holders of the party
from across Indonesia attended -a total of 115 officials, including East
Timor branch members [as received]...
Source: Detikcom web site, Jakarta, in Indonesian 13 Jul 01