BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   April news

"Militia forces backed and trained by the Indonesian military carried out a systematic campaign of violence during the lead-up to the August 1999 referendum on East Timorese independence, which was organized and administered by the United Nations. When East Timorese nevertheless opted for independence from Indonesia, pro-Indonesian militia and Indonesian soldiers initiated a scorched earth policy, terrorizing the population and committing widespread abuses, including the rape of women and girls. Some women were also reportedly held in sexual slavery." Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy
See also: BD: East Timorese Women's Issues - A collection of recent information, petitions, articles and news

Economic and Social
Council

Distr.
GENERAL
E/CN.4/2001/73
23 January 2001
Original: ENGLISH

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Fifty-seventh session

Item 12 (a) of the provisional agenda

INTEGRATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN AND THE GENDER PERSPECTIVE
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2000/45

Violence against women perpetrated and/or condoned by the State during times of armed conflict (1997-2000)
E. East Timor

79. Militia forces backed and trained by the Indonesian military carried out a systematic campaign of violence during the lead-up to the August 1999 referendum on East Timorese independence, which was organized and administered by the United Nations. When East Timorese nevertheless opted for independence from Indonesia, pro-Indonesian militia and Indonesian soldiers initiated a scorched earth policy, terrorizing the population and committing widespread abuses, including the rape of women and girls. Some women were also reportedly held in sexual slavery.100

80. The Special Rapporteur, during a joint fact-finding mission in November 1999 together with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, found evidence of widespread violence against women in E/CN.4/2001/73 page 24
East Timor during the period [from January 1999] … the highest level of the military command in East Timor knew, or had reason to know, that there was widespread violence against women in East Timor.101

81. After the violence ended and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was in place, several initiatives were begun to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the most serious abuses committed during the violence. Numerous obstacles, including lack of proper training and absence of appropriate infrastructure, caused significant delays in the UNTAET investigations. This was particularly true for investigations into rape cases.102 The International Commission of Inquiry appointed by the Secretary-General pursuant to Commission resolution S-4/1 adopted at its special session on East Timor, found a pattern of serious violations in East Timor after January 1999, including sexual abuse, rape, stripping and sexual slavery of women, noted the need for further investigations and called on the United Nations to establish an independent and international body charged with conducting systematic investigations, identifying and prosecuting perpetrators, and ensuring reparations to victims of the violence in East Timor.103

H. Indonesia/West Timor

89. Mob violence directed primarily against ethnic Chinese citizens of Indonesia erupted on 13 May 1998, following the shooting death of four students by army or police officers the day before. Indonesian security forces reportedly stood by over the course of the next three days as mobs killed an estimated 1,198 persons, torched houses and businesses, and sexually assaulted Chinese women. Although there has been controversy over the exact number of victims raped during the violence, there is little doubt that many ethnic Chinese women were subjected to sexual violence during this period. Following her mission to Indonesia in November 1998, the Special Rapporteur concluded that “[a]lthough she [could not] provide a definite number, the pattern of violence that was described by victims, witnesses and human rights defenders clearly indicted that such rape was widespread”.112

90. Over one year after violence erupted in East Timor (see East Timor, above), over 100,000 East Timorese refugees remain in West Timor, most under pro-Indonesian militia control, where violence, including sexual assault, by militia is common. There have also been numerous, credible reports that women are used as forced labourers and sex slaves. “According to refugees who have returned from West Timor, women are regularly taken from the camps and raped by soldiers and militia members. An Indonesian soldier reportedly held a number of refugee women captive in his house. One of the women said to have been held there was Filomena Barbosa”, a prominent activist in the pro-independence campaign in East Timor.113 The Government of Indonesia has failed to disarm and disband the militia, or to investigate reports of sexual assault and hold the perpetrators accountable.

91. Rape has also been reported during armed conflicts in other areas of Indonesia as well, including in Irian Jaya and Aceh. For example, in March 2000, women were reportedly raped in the village of Alue Lhok in the North Aceh district.114

100 Amnesty International, Annual Report 2000, p. 129.

101 Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the joint mission to East Timor (A/54/660 of 10 December 1999), para. 48. For cases, see also paras. 50 and 51. See also Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in East Timor submitted to the Commission on Human Rights at its fourth special session (E/CN.4/2000/44, annex, of 24 March 2000), paras. 35 and 36.

102 Serious investigations into rape as an element of crimes against humanity only began in July; before then only two rape cases from 1999 were under active investigation. One factor was the lack of women investigators.  Less than 4 per cent of the civpol force overall was female, and of the handful of women investigators, only one had special training in investigating sexual crimes. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2001, p. 192.

103 Identical letters dated 31 January 2000 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the General Assembly, the President of the Security Council and the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights transmitting the report of the International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor (S/2000/59).

112 Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, addendum: mission to Indonesia and East Timor on the issue of violence against women (E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.3), para. 71.

113 Amnesty International Canada, “Refugees at risk: continued attacks on East Timorese” at www.amnesty.ca/women/freedom5b.html, updated 17 June 2000.

114 Amnesty International, “Indonesia: The impact of impunity on women in Aceh”, ASA 21/060/2000, 23 November 2000, p. 3.112 Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms.  Radhika Coomaraswamy, addendum: mission to Indonesia and East Timor on the issue of violence against women (E/CN.4/1999/68/Add.3), para. 71.


See also:
BD: East Timorese Women's Issues - A collection of recent information, petitions, articles and news


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   April news
Website: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood  Email: wildwood@pcug.org.au
Postal address: BACK DOOR GPO Box 59 Canberra City ACT 2601 Australia
Receive FREE weekly email Web-updates: email wildwood@pcug.org.au and include the words "Subscribe BACK DOOR" in the message header. more info