John M. Miller, +1-917-690-4391
UN Must Back Prosecution of Indonesian Officers
International Action Needed After Indonesia Snubs Extradition of
Suspects to East Timor
For Immediate Release
March 4, 2003 - The East Timor Action Network U.S. (ETAN) today
urged the United Nations to support the prosecution of top Indonesian
officials accused of committing crimes against humanity in East Timor.
Last week, in a move ETAN called "vitally important for East
Timor's future stability," prosecutors in East Timor filed
indictments against high-ranking Indonesian officers.
After the Indonesian government quickly dismissed the indictments, ETAN
called for international pressure to ensure that those responsible for
decades of torture, rape, forced sterilization, deliberate starvation and
mass murder face justice.
"We urge the UN as well as the Bush administration to press
Indonesia to extradite officials charged by prosecutors in East Timor with
crimes against humanity and other serious crimes," said John M.
Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
"The crimes alleged in the indictments were committed against a UN
mission created by the Security Council. They involved assaults on both UN
personnel and the East Timorese population," said Miller. Ten East
Timorese who worked for the UN in organizing the 1999 independence ballot
were among the estimated one-to-two thousand who died.
The UN official spokesperson's only comment on the indictments to date
is a request to the media that "that in [the] future you'll say,
'East Timor indicts,' and not 'the United Nations indicts.'"
"Instead of splitting hairs, the UN should be forcefully
advocating that those responsible for such serious crimes be brought to
justice," responded Miller. "The UN must heed East Timorese
victims' cries for justice or risk endangering its own missions."
"The nature of the crimes committed, the inability of the new
nation of East Timor to seek justice on its own and the violence targeted
at the UN all necessitate international involvement," added Miller.
"UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council must
establish an international tribunal with sufficient authority and
resources to try these and other suspects," Miller said. "The
tribunal must also investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and
genocide committed during Indonesia's illegal occupation of East Timor
prior to 1999."
Last week, the
Crimes Unit (SCU) in East Timor issued several indictments against
senior Indonesian military officials, East Timorese militia leaders and
others. The most
wide-ranging accuses former commander General Wiranto and other
high-ranking Indonesian military officials of crimes against humanity
"undertaken as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed
against the civilian population of East Timor," according to a
statement by the SCU. The indictment further accuses the commanders of
"funding, arming, training and directing the militia.... The militia
groups acted together with TNI in a planned and systematic campaign which
led to crimes against humanity being committed across East Timor during
the 1999 period."
The SCU was established by the United Nations Transitional Authority in
East Timor (UNTAET) under authority granted by UN Security Council
Resolution 1272 to set up a system to administer justice in the territory.
The resolution demanded that those responsible for violence be brought to
justice. UNTAET also created Special Panels of judges to hear serious
crimes cases from 1999. The Serious Crimes Unit now operates as a unit of
the newly-independent country's Office of the General. The
Secretary-General has regularly reported to the Security Council on the
work of the SCU and Special Panels.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. supports human dignity for
the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, economic justice and
human rights, including women's rights. Additional background can be found