Really not sure why Timor-Leste should express regret (see report below)over the human rights violations that occurred in 1999, they were perpetrated by Indonesian military and militia trained by Indonesia.
Xanana ordered Timorese resistance fighters (who were still in the hills at that time) to stay calm and not retaliate against the Indonesian military to avoid inflaming the situation. Several
papers in England ran a story of how despite all provocation the resistance fighters were obeying the ‘resistance leaders’ commands. Photographs were shown of resistance fighters sitting in the hills with scanty weapons, which they would have been brave enough to use against tanks and whatever else had been supplied by the ‘west’, if their ‘resistance leader’ had allowed it.
The reports stated the pro-independence fighters were ‘dismayed that they could do nothing to stop their people being killed, raped and beaten as they must obey orders given by Xanana. Its quite unusual to get reports of Timor-Leste in main stream media in England, after the reports lots of people who knew I had someone from Timor living with my family stopped me in the street and asked how he was.
My reply was ‘he’s pretty distraught, we’ve had information that his whole village has once more been destroyed, he doesn’t know whether his family are alive or dead.’ His village had once more been destroyed, but his family happily were eventually found, others were of course murdered during the rampage that occurred after the vote for independence.
The village, I guess like countless others, had been been destroyed during the occupation (before 1999). Many people in the village were killed, beaten, raped. Three men from the village, I know their names but am not giving them, were murdered horrifically specifically because they would not give up the resistance leader, Xanana,to the special forces. Clandestine were hiding Xanana during one of his frequent bouts of malaria.
The whole village were forced to watch the torture meted out to the men, who were beaten, then had their stomachs were cut open. They were then pegged out on the ground overnight. During the night the men called out for water, one of the sons tried to give water. His heavily pregnant mother, tried to stop the Indonesian soldiers (soldiers not militia) beating her son. She told me ‘they were already killing my husband, I did not want them to kill my son.’
She told me she was pushed to the ground and dragged by her hair 1 km across rough terrain. She was forced into a helicopter and taken to prison. Her child, a boy was born in prison. They had rags for clothing which did little to stop the sun burning them, they had no blankets to keep lops. the mother and her child both suffered from malnutrition,
They lived in filthy conditions for one year. The family had no idea whether their mother was alive or dead (can you imagine their trauma). They had no idea they had a brother until Amnesty
International found the mother and child, negotiated to have them released and returned to their village.
By the way the men who had been pegged out all night were not quite dead in the morning, so the Indonesian military poured petrol over them and set them alight, in full view of the families who had not been beaten and dragged off.
After the mother and child returned to the village the military still would not leave the family in peace. On a regular basis they would visit the rebuilt house, poke their guns through the bamboo, and shout things like, ‘we know you are against Indonesia, your husband was clandestine your sons are resistance fighters, we are coming to kill you’
I have been to the village, I have seen the spot where the men were murdered, I know how far the woman was dragged across the ground, I know that she was eight months pregnant at the time. I know that she still suffers flashbacks,mental torment and lack of sleep because of what happened to her, her family, her friends, her country.
There of course are similar stories across the whole of Timor-Leste, but because I visited and know the people of Lautem I can speak with more authority on that area. I have been told of men murdered and of men and children being beaten for being part of clandestine. I know women who were raped, or beaten and dragged off to Atauro prison for daring to be married to resistance fighters, (seems to have missed the Indonesian soldiers notice that they were married to the men before
they became resistance fighters, or maybe it didn’t).
There are men and women, Maubere people, in England who gave up their lives and families, to tell the world of the atrocities that were of Timor, travelling to Indonesia under the guise of being students who sympathised with Indonesia’s occupation. If the Indonesian military discovered they were clandestine, they naturally suffered beatings, many were hidden by Indonesian solidarity so they would not be killed. These men and women many are now working in England and of course other countries so they can send money back home to family unable to afford food and housing. Many are skilled workers, but on the whole they are in unskilled work with low pay, because this is the only work they can find)
Are these people in the guise of their present leaders supposed to apologise to Indonesia for atrocities that turned their lives into a living hell?
Indeed, solidarity worldwide was amazed at the restraint shown by pro-Independence groups during 1999, and actually if Indonesian military or militia were detained, was it not justified in
view of the murder and mayhem that was occurring to their people? However, I would like to see more evidence that this happened (eye witness account would help)
As for Wiranto, what riots is he talking about, rampage, murder and rape on such a large scale surely is not a riot.
Wiranto is guilty of human rights atrocities and should be put in front of an International court, not some shame of a military trial. Suharto, that lovable chappy, got away with it. Someone should be held accountable for what happened in Timor-Leste during the 25 year occupation and the referendum. (course their is always Suharto’s son)
Is the whole affair pragmatism gone mad, or is it more to do with the fact that ‘western leaders’ don’t want an International tribunal. After all the ‘west’ funded and supplied weapons to Indonesia – the green light for invasion was given by Ford and Kissinger (Kissinger has stated that he is rather scared of leaving the states in case he is indited on some of his nastier dealings)
He should rest easy you only get hauled up for human rights abuses if you ‘are not a friend of the West’ i.e. Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, and of course our leaders are now trying to implement sanctions on Mugabe and are trying to indite the President of Sudan – Please before you apologists send loads of emails about how they should have been, or be prosecuted for human rights abuses, I agree they should, but why are ‘friends of the West’ not prosecuted for the same atrocities?
Perhaps what we living in the west should do is put pressure on our own governments to instigate an International tribunal into the atrocities committed throughout the Indonesian occupation and not just in 1999.
Tyneside East Timor Solidarity
News focus: RI, Timor Leste express remorse over Dili atrocities
By Andi Abdussalam
Jakarta, (ANTARA News) – The governments of Indonesia and Timor Leste in Bali on Tuesday expressed deep regret over the gross human rights violations committed during and after the referendum that led to the secession of East Timor from Indonesia in September in 1999.
The two governments expressed their regret in a joint statement signed by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his Timor Leste counterpart Ramos Horta, and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in Bali on Tuesday.
Both governments signed the 14-point joint statement after earlier on the day receiving a final report of the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) set up by both governments to collect facts on alleged human rights violations in East Timor and to help restore the relations between the two countries.
“We would like to express our deepest regret over the past violence that has claimed so many lives and material loss,” President Yudhoyono said after receiving the final report from the CTF at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Tuesday.
The Indonesian government will study and take follow-up steps with regard to the CTF recommendations and take initiatives to improve the friendship between the peoples of Indonesia and Timor Leste.
Meanwhile, Timor Leste President Ramos Horta said his government would study and discuss the report, and carry out the CTF recommendations. “We agree to carry out the recommendations as far as possible,” Horta said.
In response to the recommendations and other initiatives suggested by the commission, a joint ministerial commission will formulate an action plan.
The report, leaked to several media organisations including AAP in Australia last week, said that Indonesia bore responsibility for the violations, which included mass murder, rape and torture.
It also said that the pro-Indonesia militia groups, the Indonesian government, military and police “must all bear an institutional responsibility for the gross human rights violations against civilians”.
But the report said pro-independence groups in East Timor also committed gross human rights violations, including illegal detentions, for which that country also owed Indonesia an apology.
The Commission was opposed to a controversial option of granting an amnesty to the perpetrators, saying it would not be in keeping with “its goals of restoring human dignity, creating the foundation for reconciliation … and ensuring that violence would not recure”.
In response to the report, National Defense Forces (TNI) Chief Gen Djoko Santoso said he was ready to face the possible consequences, if it was true that the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship had declared the TNI institutionally responsible for the human rights violations in East Timor.
“I still don`t know (about CTF`s statement) but if the TNI as an institution is held responsible, I will be accountable. I have just returned from Lebanon, so I have not yet seen the (CTF)`s formulation,” he said at the Merdeka Palace last week.
But Santoso did not explain in what way he would live up to his responsibility. “I still don`t know what the (CTF`s) has actually said. When I have received it, we will consider in what way we will show our responsibility,” he said.
In the meantime, retired General Wiranto, who was the TNI chief during the 1999 East Timor polls, said the East Timor case was already settled and closed.
“All army generals who were suspected of involvement in the East Timor riots had been tried by an extra-ordinary military tribunal and all of them were found not guilty,” he said on Tuesday.
He said that should the case be taken to an international tribunal, he should first wait for the decisions of both governments.
“We leave it to the governments of both nations and we are of the opinion that there were no mistakes at that time and all were done by the book,” Wiranto said.
According to the CTF report, the Indonesian military, police and East Timor government officials were at the time involved in every stage of activities that led to gross human rights violations, including murder, rape, torture, extra-judicial arrests, and forced deportation of East Timorese. The pro-independence militia committed acts of violence during the referendum in 1999.
But the report said that pro-independence groups in East Timor also committed gross human rights violations – namely illegal detentions – and that state must also it is sorry.
Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said human rights violations in East Timor were the responsibility of the governments of Indonesia and Timor Leste. “Joint responsibility is one of the principles that should be put forward or be taken as basis for responding to the report of the CTF,” the defense minister said in a working meeting with TNI commander Gen. Djoko Santoso on Monday.
In this case, both sides would not look into the past too long in their attempt to find the truth and justice. “So, there should be no words of apology but an expression of deep regret which is to be conveyed by both presidents to their respective peoples,” he said.
He said that what was found by the CTF was a matter of restorative justice whose nature was to restore both nations` relations and peoples, so that both sides should not go too far to question matters done by both countries in September 1999.
The CTF report referred to the principle that both sides had committed gross human rights violations in East Timor. “This must be underlined because media reports in Australia mentioned as if it was only Indonesia which had committed human rights violations in East Timor,” he said.(*)