Tenth Anniversary of Massacre Prompts Calls for Justice for East Timor
Human Rights Group Urges Bush Administration to Support International
For Immediate Release
November 12, 2001
Contact: John M. Miller,
718-5967668; mobile: 917-690-4391
On the tenth anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre in East Timor, the
East Timor Action Network (ETAN) called for justice for its victims and
the many others harmed by since Indonesia’s invasion and occupation of
the territory in 1975. The 1991 massacre -- witnessed and filmed by
journalists --is considered a turning point in East Timor’s struggle for
Grassroots activists in 20 U.S. cities
will pay tribute to those killed with various actions throughout the week
of November 12 to increase local and national awareness of the need for
justice for East Timor and to urge a U.S. policy which supports an
international tribunal for crimes against humanity and war crimes
committed in East Timor.
“East Timor will soon be independent, but its people have yet to see
justice for 24 years of systematic rights abuses by the Indonesian
military,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
“We are urging the Bush administration to actively work for an
international tribunal for East Timor. Such a policy would demonstrate a
commitment to justice during the tenth anniversary of this notorious
massacre and begin to redress the years of active U.S. support for
Indonesia's occupation of East Timor,” added Miller.
On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on a memorial
procession to the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor’s capital,
that had turned into a peaceful pro-independence demonstration. More than
270 East Timorese were murdered. This massacre, unlike many others
committed during Indonesia's 24-year occupation, was filmed and
photographed by international journalists.
The Santa Cruz Massacre galvanized international support for East Timor
and was the catalyst for congressional action to stem the flow of U.S.
weapons and other assistance for Indonesia’s security forces.
“Almost two years ago, the UN Security Council called on Indonesia to
bring the perpetrators of its 1999 scorched-earth campaign to justice ‘as
soon as possible’ and ‘institute a swift, comprehensive, effective,
and transparent legal process, in conformity with international standards
of justice and due process of law.’ How much longer will this waiting
game go on?” questioned Miller.
“The U.S. and other members of the Security Council can no longer
pretend that Indonesia will bring senior or even mid-level military and
civilian personnel responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor
to justice. Although the UN and Indonesia’s own human rights commission
have documented a wealth of evidence strongly implicating the highest
levels of Indonesia’s security forces, not one indictment, let alone a
prosecution, has yet been filed against them, ” said Miller.
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri recently amended the decree
establishing the still-delayed Indonesian ad hoc human rights court on
East Timor. The court’s scope remains limited to the months of April and
September,1999, and to three of East Timor’s 13 districts, with no
attention given to the many cases of violence against women. The court’s
limited jurisdiction will effectively exclude the high-level planning of
1999’s scorched-earth campaign and the massive displacement of the
population. Megawati’s newly appointed Attorney General M.A. Rahman has
recommended prosecuting only low-ranking officers, ignoring those with the
ETAN activists across the U.S. will hold candlelight vigils, meet with
congressional offices, and do local outreach to mark the Santa Cruz
Massacre anniversary. A November 12 forum on “Justice for East Timor: 10
Years After the Santa Cruz Massacre” in New York City (7:30 p.m., 147 W.
70 St. nr. Columbus) will feature Constancio Pinto, East Timor’s
representative to the U.S.; journalist Amy Goodman, an eyewitness to the
Santa Cruz Massacre; and Michael Ratner, attorney with Center for
Constitutional Rights, part of the legal team which has won substantial
judgments in U.S. courts against Indonesian generals for crimes against
humanity in East Timor, including the massacre.
In Congress Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Representatives Lane
Evans (D-IL) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) are taking the lead to commemorate the
Santa Cruz Massacre by circulating a letter to Secretary of State Colin
Powell urging the Bush administration to actively and publicly work for
the establishment of an international tribunal on East Timor.
A UN International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor in January 2000
called for establishing an international tribunal. East Timor will become
independent in May 2002 after two and one-half years of direct UN
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) advocates democracy,
sustainable development, social, legal, and economic justice and human
rights, including women's rights, for the people of East Timor. ETAN,
which has 28 local chapters throughout the U.S., calls for an
international tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity that took
place in East Timor since 1975.
For more information on the massacre see http://etan.org/timor/SntaCRUZ.htm
or see ETAN's web site: http://www.etan.org.
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