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Internationals in East Timor write UNSC on Justice

Internationals in ET write SC on Justice

24 October 2001

To Members of the United Nations Security Council:

Dear Excellencies:

We are writing as citizens of many countries who currently reside in East Timor (Timor Lorosa'e), working with a variety of organizations. Through our work and our friendships, we have developed close contacts with many people and organizations in this soon-to-be independent nation. We understand and share their feeling that justice has not been served for the crimes against humanity committed here between 1975 and 1999.

On 16 October, we attended a conference in Dili entitled "Justice and Accountability in East Timor," where more than 60 East Timorese from more than 15 organizations came together and unanimously voiced their demand for an International Tribunal to provide justice for East Timor. After evaluating the current UNTAET serious crimes process and the state of justice in Indonesia, the attendees concluded that neither of these venues could lead to meaningful justice, especially as to the higher levels of culpability. They are asking, as are we, for the international community to take responsibility to end impunity for those who occupied and devastated this country.

This is not a new request. In early 2000, both the UNCHR-established International Commission of Inquiry and the Indonesian government's KPP-HAM investigation recommended that high-level Indonesian military commanders be prosecuted, and that an international court would be the only practical way to accomplish this. In the last few months, all 16 East Timorese political parties, as well as the National Council which was East Timor's legislature until June, have also expressed their support for an international tribunal. As time goes on, it is increasingly clear to everyone that Jakarta cannot or will not prosecute high-ranking military officers, and that UNTAET's Serious Crimes Unit does not have the leverage to obtain Indonesian cooperation. The Unit also has limited resources, time, and capabilities. Since the atrocities committed in East Timor were of such huge magnitude that impunity is not an option, we are asking the Security Council, as representatives of the people of the world, to establish an effective mechanism to investigate, prosecute and punish those who committed crimes against humanity here.

Since 1999, three Indonesian presidents and the military structures that govern with them have effectively blocked all efforts to hold TNI commanders responsible for the planned, systematic terror and devastation that was inflicted on the East Timorese people. In addition, as the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly repeatedly resolved, Indonesia's 1975 invasion and 24-year occupation of East Timor were flagrant violations of international law. These crimes were ordered and committed by human beings who should be held accountable, both to prevent their repetition and to send a signal not only to the people of East Timor, but to all humanity, that such behavior is unacceptable in a civilized world. The international community must focus its energy to compel Indonesian authorities to cooperate with justice.

After two years, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor is winding down. East Timor will be independent soon. It would compound the crimes already committed here if this tiny, poor nation which has endured so much terror is left on its own to cope with criminals who still hold positions of power in its huge neighbor. The period of U.N. responsibility for East Timor must leave a legacy of justice and accountability if East Timor is to succeed as a member of the world community.

As East Timor writes its Constitution and establishes its own governmental processes, the community of nations expects it to follow the rule of law for its own citizens. The Security Council can set an example, and establish a base for security and justice which will endure.

Sincerely yours,

Jude Conway (Asia-Pacific Support Collective)
Sr. Bernardita Guhit (Bishop Belo's Center for Peace and Development)
Janet Gunter
Carla Serreira e Freire (Oikos)
Mayumi Hachisuka (La'o Hamutuk)
Titi Irawati (Forum Solidarity for East Timorese-Indonesia (FORTILOS))
Vijaya Joshi (La'o Hamutuk)
Nugroho Katjasungkana (Forum Solidarity for East Timorese-Indonesia
Inge Lempp
Jenny Newton (Caritas Australia)
Sienike Martin (Caritas Australia)
Hannah McCaughey (Australian Volunteers International)
Christian Ranheim (Judicial Systems Monitoring Programme)
Solange Rosa
Charles Scheiner (International Federation for East Timor)
Pamela Sexton (La'o Hamutuk)
Andrew de Sousa (La'o Hamutuk)
Jill Sternberg

P.O. Box 196
Dili, Timor Lorosa'e
Via Darwin, Australia
Fax: +670(390)313274

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