April 26, 2007 – The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)today condemned the participation of Indonesian Major General Noer Muis in a joint U.S.-Indonesia military exercise this week. General Muis has been indicted for crimes against humanity in East Timor.
Photos of the general with U.S. Army, Pacific commander Lt. General John M Brown III are featured on the U.S. Army, Pacific website (http://www.usarpac.army.mil/news/GS2007/CGCheckProgress.htm) where Muis is described as co-director of a “command post” exercise, Garuda Shield, now taking place in West Java. It is scheduled to run from April 16-27.
“General Muis belongs in a courtroom, not a joint U.S.-Indonesia command center. The Bush administration has repeatedly stated that it supports accountability for the horrendous crimes committed in East Timor in 1999. Working with an accused mastermind of those crimes is a funny way to show it,” said John M. Miller, ETAN’s National Coordinator.
“That the U.S. Army should so proudly feature General Muis on its website, demonstrates the meaningless of administration pledges of vetting to keep Indonesian officers accused of human rights crimes from U.S. training programs and other direct cooperation,” said Miller.
“This is further evidence that the administration’s short-sighted rush to expand assistance to an unaccountable Indonesian military sacrifices human rights,” he added.
Muis was tried and convicted for crimes against humanity by Indonesia’s Ad Hoc Human Rights Court in 2003 for his role in brutal
attacks on East Timor’s Dili Diocese, East Timorese Bishop Belo’s house and the Suai Church massacre in September 1999. His conviction and sentence of five years were overturned on appeal in that widely discredited process, in which all but one conviction was overturned.
A colonel at the time, Colonel Muis (variously spelled Nur Muis and Noer Moeis) became local military commander in East Timor two weeks prior to the August 30, 1999 independence referendum. In that capacity, he bears major responsibility for the atrocities committed by his troops and their militia proxies. Just before the referendum results were announced, he described contingency plans to evacuate up to a quarter-million East Timorese from their homeland, a plan that was soon forcibly implemented.
On February 24, 2003, Muis was indicted with other senior officers by the UN-backed serious crimes process in East Timor. The indictment states that Muis “failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the crimes being committed by his subordinates and he failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to punish perpetrators of those crimes,” despite being “repeatedly informed” of those crimes. At least 1400 people died, hundreds of thousands were forcibly displaced, and most of East Timor’s infrastructure was destroyed as the Indonesian military punished East Timor for its pro-independence vote.
Muis is currently commander of the 1st Infantry Division of the Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad).
Additional information about Muis’s role in 1999 can be found in the Masters of Terror database: http://www.villagechief.com/mot/Nur%20Muis.htm.
ETAN was formed in 1991. The 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.