TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign,
25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ
Tel/Fax: 01420 80153
Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia and East Timor, 1973-2001
Embargoed until 9 am 13.06.01
The Catholic aid agency CAFOD, CIIR and London-based TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign are joining other international aid agencies and human rights groups to press for an international criminal tribunal for East Timor.
A statement endorsed by 45 signatories released at an international donor conference on East Timor, meeting today in Canberra, Australia, urges the international community to set up an international tribunal without further delay.
The occupying Indonesian army and their militia allies unleashed a wave of violence in East Timor up to and after the 30 August 1999 independence vote, including systematic murder, torture and rape.
CAFOD’s East Timor Programme Officer Catherine Sexton says, “Indonesia has prevaricated too long on this issue. Jakarta does not intend to pursue justice for the East Timorese. It is now time for the international community to act. An international tribunal must be set up. Timely justice and the ending of impunity are essential for peace and reconciliation in East Timor and for democracy and stability in Indonesia.”
In February 2000, the UN Security Council required Indonesia to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor as soon as possible. Many of the suspects were high-ranking Indonesian army commanders.
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid’s recent decree establishing an ad hoc tribunal for crimes committed in East Timor allows for prosecution of crimes committed only after the 30 August 1999 independence ballot. Many crimes committed before the vote will go unpunished in Indonesia, such as a massacre at Liquica Church on 6 April 1999 when more than 50 people were killed.
Indonesia’s inability and unwillingness to administer credible justice was further demonstrated by the outcome in May 2001 of proceedings against those accused of involvement in the killing of three employees of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Atambua, West Timor in September 2000. The six accused were not charged with murder or manslaughter, but with lesser offences. Consequently, their sentences ranged from only 10 to 20 months imprisonment.
Sexton says, “It is evident that the Indonesian authorities are neither willing nor able to administer meaningful justice in relation to the East Timor crimes. The international community’s decision to allow Indonesia time to try the perpetrators has not worked and the international community’s inaction can no longer be justified.”
The agencies say the absence of credible justice in East and West Timor is seriously undermining attempts to repatriate those among the 100,000 or so refugees remaining in West Timor who wish to return home. The failure to prosecute those responsible for serious crimes helps to fuel an environment in which intimidation is widespread, humanitarian assistance is severely hampered and refugees are unable to make free and informed decisions about where they wish to live.
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8 Catholic aid agency CAFOD calls for war crimes court on East Timor
“It is clear that there is no political will in Jakarta for any serious steps to be taken against those who commit human rights atrocities. Jakarta’s efforts on this front have lost all credibility. ... One of the best steps towards the development of democracy in the long-run is the promotion of justice and the rule of law. CAFOD is concerned that groups being seen as clearly above and outside the law will affect the development of democratic principles in both East Timor and Indonesia, and will only promote the use of violence in both societies. ... It is time for the international community to realise that we can best support these fledgling democracies by bringing to justice those guilty of such atrocities. Indonesia cannot and will not do this itself, and it is time for the establishment of an international tribunal on East Timor.” Catherine Sexton, CAFOD Programme Officer for East Timor
26 TAPOL: Indonesia forfeits right to conduct Timor trials
“The Indonesian authorities have cynically misled the international community as to their true intentions and cannot be trusted. Indonesia is neither willing nor able to provide justice to the long-suffering victims of the appalling crimes committed by the Indonesian military and its militia proxies in East Timor. International justice must now take its course.” Paul Barber, TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
2 2000 CCET: Christian churches call for justice and peace in East Timor
"While the International community ... has waited for the Indonesian government to try perpetrators, the defenceless victims of these mostly pre-meditated actions, are struggling to come to terms with huge physical and emotional loss. No healing process can start in the knowledge that perpetrators are at large, and will go unpunished. Without healing, East Timor's unique chance of founding a nation based on higher principles rooted in freedom and equity, will be still-born. Justice is vital not only to East Timor's future, but also to the future of Indonesia, which is also struggling to found a democratic state based on the rule of law.
* We call for an international ad hoc tribunal in which both Indonesia and East Timor will participate.
* We call for all suspected perpetrators to be tried, regardless of their military rank."
Christian Consultation on East Timor (statement signed by 36 Christian organisations and churches)
BD: Calls for International War Crimes Tribunal - A collection of recent reports, articles and news
BD: War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press releases, petitions, articles and news