ETAN Urges New Indonesian President to Pursue Justice for
Victims of East Timor’s Occupation
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391 (mobile)
Karen Orenstein, For immediate release
October 19, 2004 - On the eve of retired General Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono's inauguration, the East Timor Action Network
(ETAN) today urged Indonesia's new president to actively pursue
justice for crimes committed by Indonesian security forces in East
"The East Timor Action Network congratulates the people of
Indonesia for their remarkable series of elections and urges
President Yudhoyono to make a priority of justice and human rights
protection,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
“The new Indonesian administration’s efforts toward justice for
East Timor will be viewed as a litmus test by all those who care
about human rights, accountability and democracy," said Miller. "The
international community will be watching closely to see whether
President Yudhoyono sets aside his military loyalties to pursue
genuine reconciliation and justice for the people of East Timor."
"One key indicator will be Indonesia's attitude toward the
commission of experts, which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is
expected to appoint soon," said Miller. The commission will examine
the two existing processes to prosecute serious crimes committed in
East Timor in 1999 and propose next steps.
"The U.S. Congress continues to view the lack of accountability
for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in East Timor
as a key reason for restricting military assistance to Indonesia,"
said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator for ETAN. "President
Yudhoyono should heed regular calls by Congress for Indonesia to
cooperate with the UN-mandated serious crimes process in East
"The continued restriction of U.S. military aid sends an
important signal to the new Indonesian government that Congress
believes military reform is vital to democratic progress in
Indonesia," continued Orenstein.
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East
Timor and Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to
prosecute crimes against humanity that took place in East Timor
since 1975 and continued restrictions on U.S. military assistance to
Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its armed forces. See
www.etan.org for more information.
Indonesia set up an ad hoc human rights court in early 2000 to
deflect calls for an international tribunal in response to the
Indonesian military's 1999 campaign of terror in East Timor. While
six of the 18 people tried were convicted, only the convictions of
the two East Timorese tried have been upheld on appeal.
The UN Security Council mandated the establishment of the Serious
Crimes Unit (SCU) to conduct investigations and prepare indictments
to assist in bringing to justice those responsible for crimes
against humanity and other serious crimes committed in East Timor in
1999. It also created the Special Panels to hear serious crimes
cases. More than two-thirds of those indicted in East Timor
currently reside in Indonesia. A number of indicted senior military
and police officials and militia are active in military operations
in Aceh and West Papua.
In September, the U.S. Senate agreed to
continue restrictions on Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants
and loans for weapons and other military equipment and training,
pending cooperation with SCU, including the extradition of those
indicted. Additional conditions call for military budget
transparency; U.S. certification that the armed forces are "not
committing gross violations of human rights;" and that the
government is prosecuting members of the armed forces accused of
abuses or aiding militia groups and punishing of those guilty of
departing U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Ralph Boyce said that he
was disappointed that U.S.-Indonesia military relations remain
restricted due to Jakarta's failure to improve its human rights
record. "After three years we have not in fact substantively changed
our relationship with (the Indonesian Armed Forces) all that much
because the much-touted East Timor ad hoc trials on human rights
violations didn't produce anything," Boyce said.
Citing "grave concerns over the prospects for real military
reforms," 45 members of the U.S. Congress
recently called possible State Department plans to provide FMF for
Indonesia in 2006 "premature, unwarranted, and unwise."
Representatives of more than 70
U.S. organizations wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell in
September opposing Bush administration plans to expand military
assistance to the Indonesian military.
Additional background on Yudhoyono can be found at
Rights & Justice page
U.S.-Indonesia Military Assistance page