Response to the Indonesian and East Timor
governments to establish a Truth and Friendship Commission
Timor Leste National Alliance for
C/o. Perkumpulan HAK, Rua Governador C.M.
Serpa Rosa T-091, Farol, Dili
Tel. + 670 390 3313323, Fax. + 670 390 3313324
Dili, December 21, 2004
His Excellency Kofi Annan
We are writing this letter in support of your efforts to ensure
justice for the victims of the crimes against humanity in
East Timor, by bringing the perpetrators to justice for the crimes
that they had committed.
The International Inquiry Commission that was established by the
Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1999 has recommended
several measures to hold the perpetrators of violence responsible,
which includes investigation and the formation of an international
body to probe into the violence of 1999, and an international human
rights court.1 The
mandate of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East
Timor (UNTAET) as outlined in Security Council Resolution 1272/1999
clearly states that "the United Nations condemns all violence and
acts in support of violence in East Timor, calls for their immediate
end, and demands that all that those responsible for such violence
be brought to justice."
As a follow-up, the United Nations through its transitional
administration in East Timor, UNTAET, formed a Serious Crime Unit
that has conducted investigation and prosecuted a number of
perpetrators at its Special Panels. By December 10, 2004 we found
that the Serious Crime Unit has handed over 91 files to the Special
Panel indicting 378 people. Among them, 76 people have been heard
before the Special Panel and 74 have been found guilty as charged.
However, about 280 indicted are still at large or enjoy protection
in Indonesia. One of the main challenges here is the limitation of
the legal jurisdiction of the Special Panel.
The formation of the Commission of Reception, Truth and
Reconciliation in East Timor has been a significant achievement in
meeting the demands of the victims. The Commission is currently
entering its final phase of writing the report that would provide an overall view of the violence committed during the occupation
of East Timor since 1975. However, the governments of Indonesia and
East Timor have recently discussed the possibility of establishing a
Truth and Friendship Commission, which might undermine the
aspirations of the victims.
The Truth and Friendship Commission was discussed by the
governments of East Timor and Indonesia during a meeting in Bali on
December 15, 2004. It obviously shows to the international
community, and particularly the people of East Timor and Indonesia
that both governments are maintaining impunity and protecting the
perpetrators. By doing that, both governments also demonstrate their
ignorance of the judicial process of the Serious Crime Unit and the
Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor.
The people of Indonesia are obviously familiar with what has
happened in East Timor, Aceh and other places, where violence is
committed on the basis of "defending national interest". We think
that the commission does not address the rights of the people of
Indonesia to know the truth. We also doubt that the commission would
be able to reveal the truth. We realize that our country, as a small
and poor country, is forced to trade its right to justice with
narrow political interests. The situation obliges us to demand the
UN to play a more active role in bringing justice for the victims of
gross human rights violations in East Timor.
We support your call in the Security Council meeting of November
this year that "member states of the UN to ensure that there
impunity would not prevail in this process, although both
governments (East Timor and Indonesia) would not fully support this
process." We hope that you would support the struggle of the victims
for justice and to end impunity.
We also realize that there is a need to find a mechanism that
would be able to deal with the problems that we encounter. The idea
to establish a commission of experts to evaluate the current
processes both in East Timor and Indonesia and to recommend future
We hope that our voice, as part of the people of East Timor who
have suffered from impunity, would be heard.
Thank you for paying attention to the demands of the victims of
gross human rights violations in East Timor.
Timor Leste National Alliance for International Tribunal
1. Maria Afonso de Jesus Victim's Family
2. Rosentino Amado Hei NGO Representative
Edio Saldanha Victim's Family
4 . Xisto dos Santos Student Representative
5. Joaquem R. Brites NGO Representative
(1) Report of the International Inquiry
Commission on East Timor to the Secretary-General of the United
Nations, related to the letter of January 31, 2000 from the
Secretary-General to the Chair of the General Assembly, the Chair of
the Security Council and the Chair of the UN High Commission of
Human Rights. pars 152-53.