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INFID: Statement On State Violence In East Timor

12TH INFID CONFERENCE, Bali 14-17 September 1999


Indonesian and international NGOs gathered in Bali for the 12th INFID Conference condemn the violence, killings, rape, destruction and mass forced displacement of East Timorese people by the militias backed up by the Indonesian military which have followed the announcement of the result of the historic 30 August Popular Consultation in East Timor.

These crimes have been systematically planned and executed. They represent a breach of Indonesia's international human rights obligations as a member of the United Nations. Along with the misuse of funds in the IMF/World Bank mandated Social Safety Net program to support the pro-integration campaign, they also constitute a violation of the 5 May Agreement in New York according to which Indonesia is legally bound to 'agree on arrangements for a peaceful and orderly transfer of authority in East Timor to the United Nations'.

INFID therefore supports the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, for the establishment of an International Tribunal for East Timor. Everyone found guilty of crimes against humanity in East Timor, including senior officials, members of the militias, the Indonesian military and police, and pro-independence supporters, must be held accountable for their actions. The International Tribunal must provide appropriate witness protection mechanisms.

The 11th INFID Conference held in Bonn 4-6 May 1998 acknowledged, inter alia, 'the emergence of more and more voices in the democratisation movement in Indonesia for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in East Timor', called for a resolution of the conflict through 'the exercise of the right to self-determination', supported the efforts of the UN Secretary General for achieving a solution and called on the Indonesian Government to respect the human rights of the East Timorese people in compliance with its undertakings to the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Accordingly INFID welcomes the holding of the East Timor Popular Consultation on 30 August. The Consultation was declared free and fair by independent international and Indonesian observers and resulted in a clear cut decision for independence by the majority of the East Timorese people and the prospect of lasting peace.

INFID calls on the Government of Indonesia to respect the result of the ballot and urges it to demonstrate its acceptance by honouring its previous pledges to withdraw in an orderly and peaceful manner, by disbanding the militias which have been sponsored by TNI, and by cooperating with the international community in the fulfillment of its obligations to the East Timorese people.

An international peacekeeping force must be deployed in East Timor with the utmost urgency to restore law and order and avert a greater humanitarian catastrophe. INFID welcomes President Habibie's acceptance of such a force 'without conditionalities'. It must be deployed without delay, be accompanied by a phased withdrawal of Indonesian troops, and have a mandate to disarm and arrest militia members and Indonesian soldiers responsible for acts of violence. Cooperation with the Indonesian army will be necessary but command of the international force must be under the UN, not the Indonesian army, and the UN alone must decide its composition.

East Timor is on the brink of humanitarian calamity as a result of systematic terror, mass displacement of the population, widespread destruction of infrastructure and the forced closure of local and international aid agencies in East Timor. Many thousands face starvation. Action must be taken immediately to secure humanitarian access to both East Timor and West Timor and cannot wait for the arrival of the international peacekeeping force. INFID demands that national and international NGOs and other humanitarian aid agencies be given immediate, urgent and secure access to make a needs assessment and to provide assistance, including by air drops. INFID reminds the international community that the disastrous famine in 1978, which accounted for most of the deaths in East Timor since 1975, followed the denial of access to international aid agencies.

Immediate access should also be given to agencies with a protection mandate to protect internally displaced persons in East Timor and refugees in West Timor and other parts of Indonesia against further terror and further displacement. The media must also be given immediate, free and full access to East and West Timor to report on the situation.

INFID appeals to governments in the region, including Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, to make temporary safe haven visas available especially to politically vulnerable East Timorese who are being targeted by pro-integration elements. UNAMET has a special responsibility for the welfare and protection of locally engaged staff who were not able to be evacuated from the UNAMET compound in Dili and, with their families, remain in danger of reprisal in East and West Timor.

In the longer term, INFID calls on the international community
· to continue to support efforts at dialogue and reconciliation through both the Dare process and at the community level, in accordance with the commitments made by Xanana Gusmao and other East Timorese leaders to build an inclusive society based on human rights
· to assist with the reconstruction of East Timor and the provision of long term development assistance, at all times as INFID stated in Bonn - respecting 'the right of the East Timorese people to determine their own future and manage their own lives economically, socially and culturally'.

15 September 1999

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