Crimes Against Humanity Planned Operation
East Timor Action Network Publishes Text of Suppressed UN Report on 1999 Destruction
Crimes Against Humanity Were a Planned Indonesian Military Operation, Report Says
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) today published the full text of a United Nations-commissioned report on Indonesian military (TNI) crimes against humanity in East Timor. The report is now available on the internet at http://www.etan.org/news/2001a/dunn1.htm.
The document, "Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor, January to October 1999: Their Nature and Causes," was written by former Australian diplomat James Dunn, an independent consultant to the Chief Prosecutor for the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor's (UNTAET). ETAN obtained the report from a source associated with the United Nations.
UNTAET officials do not plan to release the report, which was submitted to them in mid-February. It names some of the key Indonesian commanders most directly involved in planning and implementing the violence surrounding East Timor's UN-organized independence referendum in 1999. A UN spokesperson has said that the UN is not releasing the report out of concern that it will hinder negotiations with Indonesia.
"We believe it is crucial that those responsible for East Timor's destruction be held accountable," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "Prosecution of the Indonesian military officers responsible is necessary both for East Timor's future security and Indonesia's transition to democracy. Open discussion of the report's findings best serves all involved -- the UN, the Indonesian government and people, and the people of East Timor."
The report concludes "the campaign of massive destruction, deportation and killings in September  was essentially an operation planned and carried out by the TNI, with militia participation, to punish the people of East Timor for their vote against integration."
"An international tribunal is needed if the East Timorese are to see justice for the crimes committed against them. As of now, no Indonesian military officers have been indicted, much less tried for the crimes recounted in Dunn's report," said Miller.
"Justice cannot be served in Indonesian courts because many East Timorese are too traumatized to travel to Indonesia to testify. Also, the military command has consistently blocked UN investigations, refusing to extradite suspects or even to allow them to be questioned. In fact, many of the officers named in the report maintain positions of authority in the TNI," he added.
After numerous delays, the Indonesian government recently authorized an ad hoc human rights court on East Timor. But the court itself has not been set up, and its mandate is restricted to "gross human rights violations that occurred in East Timor after the self-determination vote" of August 30, 1999, precluding prosecution for numerous crimes commtted before that date.
"Any Indonesian trials are fraught with so many legal, practical and political problems that any convictions of high-ranking officers are extremely unlikely," said Miller.
East Timorese Nobel peace laureate Bishop Belo and the NGO Forum of East Timor both recently reiterated their support for a tribunal. "Justice must not be restricted to a chosen few. It must be universal," Belo said in an April 16 speech in Sydney, Australia.
Arsenio Bano, the executive director of NGO Forum, asked, "If the perpetrators of crimes against humanity cannot be brought before an International Court, then where are they going to be tried?"
Although many charge the militias with responsibility for the "the reign of terror" in East Timor during 1999, Dunn writes that "their actions flowed from the command involvement of TNI officers, sometimes from direct orders, or from the provision of military training, weapons, money and, according to militia members, drugs."
The report reviews systematic human rights abuses by the Indonesian military from Indonesia's 1975' invasion of East Timor on, providing a context for the destruction before and after the 1999 vote. "It is important that this pattern of behaviour on the part of the Indonesian military be taken into account when judging the events of 1999," Dunn writes.
Dunn recommends that investigations be "stepped up," focusing on the role of TNI commanders with a "view to laying charges," and that "In the event that no progress is made in Indonesia towards bringing to justice those responsible... immediate steps should be taken to negotiate the setting up of an international tribunal for this purpose." The report also calls for "a thorough investigation of what transpired and of who was responsible for crimes committed in East Timor" since 1975 and opening negotiations with Indonesia on reparations for "the massive destruction... and organised theft of property" in East Timor. "Its development was in effect set back more than a generation," Dunn writes.
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. was founded following the November 1991 massacre. ETAN supports a genuine and peaceful transition to an independent East Timor. ETAN has 27 local chapters throughout the U.S.
John M. Miller Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
Media & Outreach Coordinator, East Timor Action Network
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Web site: http://www.etan.org
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