ETAN: Commit the U.S. to work for Justice in Timor-Leste
ETAN to Secretary of State Clinton: Commit the
U.S. to work for justice for U.S.-backed crimes in
September 5, 2012 - On the eve
of her visit to Timor-Leste, the East Timor and Indonesia
Action Network (ETAN) urged Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton to commit the United States to support
justice and accountability for U.S.-backed crimes committed
during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of Timor-Leste.
appreciate ongoing U.S. engagement with Timor-Leste, but
there is unfinished business between our two nations.
Secretary Clinton' should acknowledge and begin to make
amends for U.S. leading role in aiding and abetting
Indonesia's brutal takeover of Timor," Miller added. "At a
minimum she should officially receive the report of
Reception and Reconciliation Commission's (CAVR) and set a
timetable for a detailed U.S. response."
The CAVR called
on countries like the United States that actively supported
Indonesia's illegal occupation to take specific actions.
ETAN urged the Obama administration to respond to the recommendations
of the CAVR, including its calls for an international
tribunal, reparations from countries that supported the
occupation, and restrictions on foreign assistance to the
Indonesian military until it shows that it is a
In a recent letter, the
Timorese organization La’o
Hamutuk appealed to Secretary Clinton for help in
“break[ing] the chain of impunity that still prevails in
Timor-Leste. Impunity exists because the international
community has forgotten its responsibility to establish an
International Tribunal to prosecute the actors involved in
crimes against humanity during the Indonesian occupation.
Many of these actors are still free and occupy powerful
political positions in Jakarta.… [I]mpunity in Timor-Leste
provides opportunity and chance for Indonesian police and
military to continue their crimes and violate the rights”
"The U.S. supported the Timor's independence
referendum in 1999, and since September 1999 Washington has
provided significant assistance to Timor-Leste, but such aid
does not begin to compensate the East Timorese people for
the suffering wrought by the U.S. support for the
occupation,” said Miller.
On December 7,
1975, Indonesia launched its full-scale invasion of East
Timor only hours after U.S. President Gerald Ford and
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the
green light to the Indonesian dictator Suharto. The U.S. was
the most important supporter of Indonesia’s illegal attack
and occupation. The U.S. supplied 90
percent of the weapons used during the invasion. From
President Ford to President Clinton, successive U.S.
administrations consistently backed Indonesia's occupation,
providing Jakarta diplomatic cover and billions of dollars
in weaponry, military training, and economic assistance.
The CAVR estimated that as many as 184,000 people died as
a result, nearly one-third of the pre-invasion population.
Yet, no senior officials of any country have been held
accountable for the horrific human right violations and war
crimes that took place.
The CAVR's comprehensive
recommended establishment of an international criminal
tribunal should other efforts fail. The CAVR urged "states
that had military cooperation programmes with the Indonesian
Government... [to] apologise to the people of Timor-Leste
for failing to adequately uphold internationally agreed
fundamental rights," (1.6) and for Permanent Members of the
Security Council, particularly the U.S. ... who gave
military backing to the Indonesian Government between 1974
and 1999 [to] assist the Government of Timor-Leste in the
provision of reparations to victims of human rights
violations suffered during the Indonesian occupation.”
(1.7) The CAVR urged that "all States regulate military
sales and cooperation with Indonesia more effectively and
make such support totally conditional on progress towards
full democratisation, the subordination of the military to
the rule of law and civilian government, and strict
adherence with international human rights, including respect
for the right of self-determination." (1.10) Under the Obama
administration, military assistance to Indonesia has rapidly
Secretary Clinton is the first U.S. Secretary
of State and the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the
country since independence.
ETAN was formed in reaction
to the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, when hundreds of peaceful
demonstrators were gunned down by Indonesian troops using
U.S.-supplied weapons. The 20-year-old U.S.-based
organization advocates for democracy, justice and human
rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information
see ETAN's web site: http://www.etan.org.
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