Former president calls for Indonesia prosecution
Friday, 18 July, 2008
By SBS reporter Gary Cox in Indonesia
Former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has called for a war
crimes tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of the 1999 violence in
East Timor, following the release of the Truth and Friendship
Commission findings on Tuesday.
VIDEO: East Timor’s President speaks exclusively to SBS
Indonesia has accepted blame for the gross human rights violations,
which claimed over 1,000 lives, while East Timor has agreed to accept
the report as the final conclusive truth of what happened in a bid to
heal the wounds between the two countries.
The leaders of the two governments have ruled out legal action
against military officers and civilians singled out in the report but
Wahid says Indonesia should launch further investigations to prepare
for a war crimes tribunal.
“We need research to open the facts, it’s not just the things done by
(General) Prabowo. They just swept everything under the covers,” he
“We have to be clear on this, there were violations of human rights
in both counties, that is what the team discovered.”
Asked if that meant legal action at an International War Crimes
Tribunal Wahid replied: “of course.”
Detailing the institutional formation and operation structure linking
the Indonesian military to the militia in East Timor, the commission
report mentions former army Strategic Reserve Command Chief Prabowo
Subianto, former Transmigration Minister General Hendriopriyono,
former Udayana military commander Adam Damitri and his then deputy
Major General Mahidin Simbolon.
But Indonesia’s House of Representatives has thrown cold water on the
prospect of any domestic or international prosecution.
“We don’t want legal action anymore after this. We should focus on
embracing better future relations,” house commission on defence and
foreign affairs chair Theo Sambuanga said.
Indonesia bows to pressure
In 2001 Indonesia bowed to international pressure and launched a
tribunal to try those accused of carrying out the 1999 violence,
before, during and after the independence vote.
The court tried 18 military officers and civilians but all were
East Timor also attempted to prosecute perpetrators through the
Serious Crimes Unit and arrest warrants were issued for Military
Chief General Wiranto, who is now a candidate in the 2009
President Xanana Gusmao, however, intervened and had Wiranto’s name
dropped from the dossier.
Favourably referred to by Indonesians as ‘Gus Dur’, Wahid is running
for a second presidency in the 2009 under the slogans of truthfulness
and openness, although his National Awakening Party (PKB) is only
expected to garner about three percent of the vote.
The former President, who led the archipelago between 1999 and 2001,
says there is little remorse by those who planned and executed the
Pro-Indonesian militia violence.
“Last night I heard former General Prabowo talking about
reconciliation and all that but I don’t believe him.”
Source: SBS staff