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"Speedy justice and the ending of impunity are essential for peace and reconciliation in East Timor and for democracy and stability in Indonesia," Paul Barber, TAPOL

Press release


TAPOL demands international tribunal for East Timor on anniversary of UN report

31 January 2001 - TAPOL has today accused the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and members of the UN Security Council - including Britain - of encouraging a culture of impunity in Indonesia and of failing in their duty to ensure timely justice of East Timor's victims of human rights atrocities instigated and directed by the Indonesian military.

Pointing out that today marks the first anniversary of the publication of the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor, TAPOL says in letters to the Secretary General and Security Council members that it has been clear for some time that there is no alternative to international justice for East Timor.  It urges the UN to act on the Commission's recommendation to set up an international tribunal without delay.

"Speedy justice and the ending of impunity are essential for peace and reconciliation in East Timor and for democracy and stability in Indonesia," says Paul Barber of TAPOL.

The UN's decision to allow Indonesia the chance to try the crimes has not worked. On the contrary, says TAPOL, "the enactment in August 2000 of a Constitutional amendment, which introduced the principle of 'non-retroactivity' into Indonesian law, means that any attempt to bring the perpetrators of past violations to justice in Indonesia will be futile".

In its letters, TAPOL highlights the "overwhelming political obstacles to justice in Indonesia in view of the resurgence of the military and the increasing weakness of President Wahid".  It points out that the military faction in Parliament played a critical role in pushing through the non-retroactivity principle and can now block the establishment of ad hoc courts designed to try past crimes.

Following East Timor's overwhelming vote in favour of independence on 30 August 1999, a wave of violence was unleashed by Indonesian military-backed militias. Hundreds were killed and around 250,000 East Timorese were forcibly deported to West Timor where they had to survive in squalid militia-controlled refugee camps.

The Indonesian Attorney General, Marzuki Darusman, stated in November 2000 that 22 suspects involved in crimes against humanity in East Timor would be tried in January, but there as yet no signs of any indictments, let alone trials.  The suspects include notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres, former local military commanders, Adam Damiri and Tono Suratman and former police chief Timbul Silaen, but crucially do not include higher-ranking military commanders, such as former armed forces commander-in-chief General
Wiranto, and political leaders responsible for organising the systematic violence and destruction in East Timor. To date, Guterres has been charged only with minor weapons offences and is currently being feted by many politicians as a national hero.


A copy of the letter to the UN Secretary General is available on the TAPOL website at:
or by telephoning 01420 80153. 

Paul Barber
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, 1973-2000
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign  Up-dated Feb 1
TAPOL - which means political prisoner in Indonesian - is a leading English language authority campaigning on the human rights situation in Indonesia and East Timor. Estab in 1973, TAPOL has depended on networking with organisations in Indonesia, with NGOs in the UK and with solidarity groups around the world. TAPOL produces the bi-monthly TAPOL Bulletin; occasional reports and briefing papers and other publications.
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