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Tribunal to deliver justice for East Timor

15 August, 2002.

New Zealand must call for an International Tribunal to deliver justice for East Timor

In the light of the first verdict in the Indonesian Human Rights Court, the Indonesia Human Rights Committee is calling on the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs to demand a just international tribunal for the war crimes in East Timor. East Timor's former governor, Abilio Soares, has been given a 3 year sentence for "allowing massacres" and "not managing subordinates effectively."

"New Zealand turned its back on the East Timorese during the long brutal occupation years. We cannot stand aside now and allow one of the twentieth centuries worst crimes to be swept under the carpet. We must now condemn this travesty, call for a full and fair international tribunal."

"The human rights court in Jakarta is carrying out farcical show trials. The conduct of the trials and first verdict confirm that the purpose has been to deflect international criticism and not to get at the truth. A mere 18 suspects are being tried as though they were largely bystanders who failed to prevent crimes. The court is looking at only a handful of crimes that took place in April and September 1999 - two months out of a 24 year occupation."

"Meanwhile those who bear most responsibility are not just getting away with it, they are rising up through the military ranks and assuming deadly new powers - the newly installed military commander General Sutarto is a veteran of the original 1975 invasion, and the chain of command which planned the 1999 scorched earth campaign in East Timor. "

"It cannot be denied that the East Timorese people lost over a third of their population, or that the catastrophic violence and devastation that took place in 1999 was orchestrated from the top by Indonesian generals. If Indonesia is allowed to get away with the myth that the 1999 violence was the result of "conflict between factions" it will be a devastating blow against human rights in Indonesia and against reconciliation, justice and healing in East Timor."

for further information: Maire Leadbeater; 09-815-9000 cell phone 025-436-957

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