For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; mobile: 917-690-4391
Imminent Indonesian Verdicts Cannot Deliver Justice for East Timor
International Tribunal Covering Entire Occupation Only Option
August 14, 2002 -- As the Indonesian court on East Timor prepared to
announce its first verdicts, the East Timor Action Network/U.S.
(ETAN) reiterated its call for an international tribunal.
"The Indonesian trials are so flawed, regardless of their outcome,
they can not satisfy the need for justice for East Timor," said John
M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "The conduct of the trials confirms
that their purpose was to deflect international criticism rather than to
get at the truth. The prosecutions in Jakarta have been crushed under the
weight of their limitations."
"If those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity go
unpunished, there will be serious implications for healing and
reconstruction in East Timor and the rule of law in Indonesia,"
Verdicts in the first of a dozen trials conducted by Indonesia's Ad Hoc
Human Rights Court on East Timor, which began in March, are expected
shortly. Under a severely limited mandate, a mere 18 suspects are being
tried for failing to prevent massacres and other crimes committed in only
three of East Timor's 13 districts during just two months April September
1999 - of a 24-year occupation.
"No one was tried for the many atrocities that occurred outside of
these very narrow time periods and locations. Without an international
tribunal, those most responsible for orchestrating the violence and
devastation in1999 and before will inevitably remain free," said
The defendants are accused of failing to prevent the actions of others
rather than for acts they may have directly committed.
"The prosecution bought the military myth that the violence in
1999 was the result of conflict between East Timorese factions. Yet the
razing of East Timor undeniably resulted from an orchestrated plan by top
Indonesian military and other officials to first intimidate the East
Timorese into voting to remain under Indonesian rule and then punishing
them when they supported independence," said Miller.
None of the top-ranking officers and officials named by Indonesia's own
human rights commission in January 2000 were seriously investigated, much
less indicted. During the trials, powerful military officers sat in the
courtroom in an effort to influence the outcome. Most East Timorese
witnesses called to testify refused, and those who testified were
harassed. The prosecutors have requested jail terms at or just above the
10-year minimum provided for in Indonesia law.
"An international tribunal is essential to ensure that those
responsible at the highest levels of the Indonesian military and
government are brought to justice for crimes against humanity and war
crimes in East Timor from the 1975 invasion on," said Miller.
Following the August 30, 1999 UN-organized referendum, the Indonesian
military and its militia systematically destroyed East Timor, murdering up
to 2000 East Timorese, destroying over 70 percent of the infrastructure
and raping hundreds of women. Hundreds of thousands were forced from their
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) 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. For additional information see ETAN's web site
reactions to first verdicts
10 Reasons Why Indonesian Courts Will Not Bring Justice to E Timor
UN Press Conference with Filomena Barros dos Reis (2/26/02)
Justice for East Timor Will Not Come
from Indonesian Indictments (2/26)
Newly Appointed Indonesian Judges Will
Not Provide Long-Delayed Justice for East Timor (1/15)
see also Human Rights Accountability and Justice