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Gov. Called To Back Intl. Tribunal For East Timor

7 August, 2004

Media Release: Indonesia Human Rights Committee calls for Government to back international tribunal for East Timor

Major General Adam Damiri "poster child for impunity" and three other officers have just been acquitted of East Timor crimes

The Indonesian Court of Appeal has just overturned all but two convictions against those charged with responsibility for the 1999 crimes in East Timor. It has also halved to five years the sentence previously given to the notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres. The New Zealand Government must now join the call for an independent International Tribunal.

"In 2000, the international community decided to give Indonesia the chance to try its own. The results have been an unequivocal travesty of the norms of international justice, and the rights of the victims. New Zealand should add its weight to the call for an independent International Tribunal. If we fail to do this - what will restrain the Indonesian military from perpetuating similar abuses in Maluku, Aceh and West Papua? "

"Last month 78 members of the US Congress joined the leaders of prominent human rights organisations in calling on the UN Secretary General to urge him to appoint a commission of enquiry into the work of the Jakarta based court. They urged that he recommend an international tribunal if the process is found to be unjust. 106 representatives of East Timor civil society recently made a similar appeal. New Zealand should support these initiatives."

There is overwhelming independent evidence that the 1999 orgy of violence was orchestrated by the Indonesian military. Major General Adam Damiri, who has just been acquitted, was the regional commander. He has been described by Human Rights Watch as the "poster child of impunity". He personally oversaw all military operations in East Timor at the time that the systematic murders, arson and forced expulsions were taking place. To add insult to injury he has since been promoted and is now the operational assistant to the armed forces Chief of Staff in Jakarta. Most chilling of all he has responsibility for prosecuting the war in Aceh, where daily human rights abuses take place away from the eye of any international media.

Former Dili police chief Hulman Gultom and former military chiefs Brig. Gen. Nuer Muis and Lt. Col. Soedjarwo have also now been acquitted. Twelve other suspects had already been found not guilty by the so called human rights court, and the only two convictions left standing are for ethnic Timorese.


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