ETAN Calls for Broad International Discussion of Timor Truth Commission
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-596-7668; 917-690-4391 (cell)
Karen Orenstein, 202-544-6911
January 20 - The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) today
called on the United Nations to launch a broad and thorough discussion of the
report of Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation
(known by its Portuguese acronym, CAVR). The group said such attention to the
report’s findings and recommendations is needed to prevent others from suffering
as the East Timorese have.
"Widespread understanding of the truth commission's report and
recommendations is essential in charting a course of justice for victims," said
John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "If such crimes are not to be
repeated, the international community must acknowledge the devastating impact of
the 1975 U.S.-backed Indonesian invasion and quarter-century of illegal
occupation. We hope the CAVR report will spur the international community to act
to end impunity.”
The President of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmão, is to present the report titled,
“Chega!” (“Enough” in Portuguese) to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York
In a letter to Annan sent
Thursday, the Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal
wrote, “We also ask the UN not to put the responsibility for prosecuting
perpetrators of Human Rights Violations on Timor-Leste’s shoulders. The delays
in justice for the victims result from political decisions of the United Nations
before 2002, which left the burden on Timor-Leste alone. If the UN does not take
this up, you will send a signal to small and poor countries that they cannot
rely on the UN to achieve true justice.”
The group added, “…respecting the rights of victims and ending the chain of
impunity is a precondition to achieving true reconciliation in Timor-Leste,
Indonesia and in the world as a whole.”
The report is the product of three years of intensive research by hundreds of
East Timorese and international experts. Its
recommendations include worldwide
distribution of the report itself, especially among UN institutions and
permanent members of the Security Council. It also asks the Secretary-General to
refer the report to the Security Council, General Assembly, Special Committee on Decolonisation, and Commission on Human Rights, and that each hold a special
session on its contents.
"The CAVR report will be very useful to the United Nations. The CAVR has made
many similar recommendations to those of the UN
Commission of Experts (COE),"
said Miller. "These include the need for an effective judicial process to try
those responsible for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste, with the Security
Council establishing an international tribunal if other processes fail to
provide substantive justice."
To date, not a single Indonesian officer has been held accountable for the
devastation of 1999, though some have been promoted. Last year, the COE,
appointed by the UN Secretary-General, evaluated justice processes for
Timor-Leste since 2000 and found that none had provided sufficient
accountability for crimes against humanity committed in Timor-Leste in 1999. The
Security Council has asked the Secretary-General to provide recommendations in
response to the COE report.
The CAVR report, which covers the period from 1974 to 1999, urges increased
attention to crimes committed before 1999, which include 99% of the murders and
involve the Suharto dictatorship and the foreign governments which supported it.
UN justice processes have so far limited their work to 1999. “The new Truth and
Friendship Commission (TFC), established exclusively by the leadership of
Indonesia and East Timor over public opposition, is not a substitute for genuine
justice,” said Miller. “It will not refer anyone for prosecution for serious
crimes and can propose amnesties. The international community, including the
U.S. government, must not use the TFC to dodge responsibility for
accountability. The truth is known. Now is the time for justice,” he added.
gave its final report to President Gusmão at the end of October 2005.
Although the President forwarded the report to Timor-Leste's parliament on
November 28, he has declined to release the report to the public, even as he
attacked some of its conclusions. However, he recently said that the handover of
the report to the UN will “mark the beginning of the intensive dissemination of
the content of the Report and its recommendations.”
“The President’s failure to release the report has limited discussion. We
look forward to reviewing its contents and believe the cause of justice will be
advanced by the responses of East Timorese and others,” said Miller. “The report
has been prepared in Indonesian, Portuguese and English, and it should be made
available in all three languages."
ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for East Timor and
Indonesia. ETAN calls for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against
humanity committed in East Timor from 1975 to 1999 and for restrictions on U.S.
military assistance to Indonesia until there is genuine reform of its security
forces. For more information, go to www.etan.org.
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