also: 2 JP reports: Op-Ed: CTF Report: Burying Some Inconvenient
Truth [by Aboeprijadi Santosoa, journalist who covered the 1999
East Timor mayhem for Radio Netherlands.]; and Op-Ed: East
Timor: ‘An Unfortunate Chapter?’ [by Eko Waluyo, program
coordinator for Indonesian Solidarity, a non-profit organization
that supports human rights in Indonesia based in Sydney,
The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Individuals may seek justice for Timor violence to UN
Dian Kuswandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Although the government has taken the blame for
the East Timor violence in 1999, there remains an
opportunity for individuals to seek redress
through national or international courts, the
National Commission on Human Rights says.
The rights body insisted Monday that both
Indonesian and Timor Leste’s governments could
not stop any individual’s effort from filing reports with the courts.
“Political statement of both governments doesn’t
implicate on victims’ efforts in seeking
justice,” the commission’s deputy chairman M. Ridha Saleh said here.
The governments of Indonesia and Timor Leste
agreed last week that both parties would not take
legal actions against the alleged perpetrators of the atrocities.
The statement followed their acceptance of a
report by the Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF), which
concluded pro-Jakarta militia groups, the
Indonesian Military (TNI), the Indonesian
government and the Indonesian Police were
responsible for the gross rights violations,
which included murders, rapes, torture, illegal
detentions and forcible deportation of civilians.
In the report, the CTF recommended that the
Indonesian and Timor Leste governments make
“official acknowledgement through expression of
regret and apology for the suffering caused by
the violence in 1999 and firm commitment to take
all necessary measures to prevent the
reoccurrence of such events and to heal the wounds of the past”.
Ridha said the right body supported any
individual effort to take the crimes against
humanity to the international court of justice,
which will require a UN Security Council’s resolution.
“The CTF report confirmed our previous
investigation which concluded the existence of
gross human rights abuses in Timor Leste,” he said.
He added that based on the CTF findings, the
Attorney General’s Office could reopen investigation into the case.
The ad hoc human rights court tried 18 military
and civilian officials for the East Timor mayhem,
but eventually they were all acquitted.
A coalition of rights groups under the Human
Rights Working Group (HRWG) threw its weight
behind the right commission, saying punishment
could be sought against perpetrators as the CTF
report did not grant amnesty to actors implicated in the report.
HRWG coordinator Rafendi Djamin suggested
establishment of a hybrid court, an
internationalized national court consisting local
and foreign prosecutors and judges, to hear the East Timor violence.
“A hybrid court is the best alternative for
victims so far, as it consists both national and
international parties, making it fair and impartial,” Rafendi said.
Executive director of the Institute for Policy
Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) Agung Putri added
the CTF report was merely a political document
without any legal consequences, but it could
serve as a reference for legal actions.
The House of Representatives, however, previously
had shown refusal to bring back the tragedy to
court, citing the government’s decision to close the case.
The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
CTF report: Burying some inconvenient truth
Aboeprijadi Santoso, Jakarta
The final report of the Indonesia-Timor Leste
Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF), titled Per
Memoriam ad Spem (Through memory toward hope) is
a political document of compromise rather than a
complete and verified factual report on what,
when and why violence occurred in connection with
the August 1999 popular consultation in East Timor.
Indeed, it has been intended as such from the
very inception of the CTF. Its aim is to bury not
just the 1999 issue but the whole tragedy of the East Timor conflict.
These two nations were involved in one of the
thorniest and bloodiest conflicts in Asia. It was
resolved through a United Nations agreement and
plebiscite in 1999 which resulted in establishing
Timor Leste as an independent state. But the
plebiscite ended badly. The ensuing mayhem has
plagued the two countries in recent years.
Once these neighboring states were forced to
address the issue of truth and justice concerning
their common past, they unfortunately chose to
jointly ignore the greater part of a quarter
century of conflict which began with aggression
(1974). continued with invasion (1975) and
escalated to war and, on an even greater scale,
to crimes against humanity with the bloody
Matebian encirclement (1975-1978) and other atrocities.
Instead the CTF, constituted in 2005 and
consisting of experts from the two states,
focused on the violence in the run up to the plebiscite and thereafter.
Now, with the conflict resolved and the
long-awaited CTF report focusing exclusively on
the 1999 mayhem and thus politically constrained
by its terms of reference, probably neither will
the victims’ families ever receive recognition
nor will the full truth of the whole conflict ever be established.
The commission said they recognized the important
influence of pre-1999 events on the period they
investigated. They claimed to have considered the
four key documents related to justice efforts and
processes: Indonesia’s human rights commission
preliminary investigation, KPP-HAM; Indonesia’s
ad hoc human rights tribunal; The UN-sponsored
Timor Leste Serious Crimes Unit investigation;
and Timor Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation
But since they chose to resolve only the
concluding episode of violence from April to
September 1999 — a period which consumed so much
domestic and international attention that the two
states could not avoid addressing it — the CTF
thus becomes a most pragmatic method to deal
politically with the easier part of the conflict.
In addition to this political choice, three basic
premises shaped the terms of reference, leading
the commission to find results that more or less
satisfy both sides instead of the full truth. The
two governments have prescribed the commission,
first, to seek a consensus without voting,
second, to identify not individuals but
institutions responsible for the violence and,
third, not to ask for prosecutorial justice.
The implication is those responsible for the
violence are not to be prosecuted. This is
tantamount to perpetuating impunity; the UN has
lodged its protest by refusing to attend CTF hearings.
The CTF final report, therefore, is a political
discourse framed by the two states to bury the
shame and human tragedy once and for all in order
to foster friendship between states — leaving
several truths — most of the conflict’s tragic
history ignored, hundreds of thousands of
victims’ families left unrecognized, and the
questions of justice and reparation cast into limbo.
However, Indonesia was not only found guilty for
the 1999 violence that took about 1,400 lives but
they accepted the report. This fact should be appreciated.
Strangely, though, the commission referred to the
reforms that engulfed Indonesia after 1998 to
explain the mayhem. The killings, rapes and
scorched earth policy in East Timor were ascribed
to vast changes toward law enforcement and respects for human rights.
Evidence suggests that the police, then under the
authority of the military, were in a state of
disarray. By contrast, far from being confused,
the military had a clear plan and developed a
network of intelligence and political support. As
the commission confirmed, they indeed sponsored,
financed, trained and armed local civilian groups
called “pro-autonomy militias”. In fact, some of
these groups had been set up was early as the 1970s in other guises.
The argument the violence may have been triggered
by confusion stemming from he democratic
transition in Jakarta is unconvincing. Some of
the violence and destruction directed at former
Indonesian properties resembled retaliatory
violence exercised not only in Timor Leste but in
Aceh and elsewhere after the national political
reforms introduced human rights imperatives.
To say, moreover, that the mayhem might have been
a consequence of a transitional power vacuum is
to deny the very responsibility for conducting a
peaceful public consultation which Jakarta
insisted it would take on in the Indonesia-Portugal Agreement of May
Indeed, as the CTF report points out, the
military has yet to offer a coherent explanation
for the existence and role of the militias
accused of being the primary perpetrators of the violence.
While Gen. Adam Damiri explained that these
militias were not part of any lawful armed
civilian groups, Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim argued
almost the contrary: the militias were indeed an
unlawful project planned to keep East Timor on board.
The CTF report needs to be viewed as a way to get
past this issue and refocus on pushing for reform of Indonesia’s
For Timor Leste, however, the CTF recommendations
may be more significant as that country, flanked
by such a giant neighbor, needs greater assurance
for its survival and long-term stability. It’s a
geopolitically awkward predicament, a bit similar
to Finland during the Cold War which had to
maintain strict neutrality vis-Â…-vis the neighboring Soviet Union.
Hence, the CTF report is basically a
geopolitically constrained document that tells
its readers a story of mayhem which ends somehow
happily for the sake of friendship between the two states.
But, given the report ignores the greater tragedy
perpetrated during the pre-1999 period of
conflict, it’s certainly an unhappy story to the
many in Timor Leste victimized during the conflict.
Alas, to them, the two heads of states who
received the CTF report, said nothing. And to the
1999 victims and victims’ families, they only
offered “deep regret”. No mea culpa. No apology.
The writer is a journalist who covered the 1999
East Timor mayhem for Radio Netherlands.
The Jakarta Post
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
East Timor: ‘An unfortunate chapter?’
Eko Waluyo, Sydney
At the handover of a report by the joint
Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and
Friendship (CTF) in Bali, President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono accepted the report and
expressed deep regret for the role the Indonesian
military played in systematic human rights abuses
in East Timor in 1999. He did not, however,
follow up his expression with the intention of
making a formal apology to the victims.
He talked about “an unfortunate chapter of our
shared past”. As a consequence of his statement,
he has created a new chapter in the culture of
impunity, which has been a part of Indonesian
history since Soeharto’s rise to power in the 1960s.
From the beginning, some human rights bodies
thought the establishment of the CTF by both
governments was suspicious. They thought it
questionable that the human rights atrocities in
Timor Leste could be settled by diplomatic means
rather through legal processes. The role of the CTF is non-judicial.
However, the report found that Indonesian state
institutions were directly behind the atrocities.
This conclusion counters former Australian prime
minister John Howard’s argument, which he
presented the Australian public at the time, that
rough elements within the TNI were behind Timor Leste atrocities.
The report also sends a message to the Jakarta
ruling political elites that their political view
on East Timor, that Soeharto created political
dogma by using the security approach, nationalism
and chauvinism to create national unity, is already bankrupt.
Justice for Timor Leste must be parallel to
eradicating the culture of impunity in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, there is a long list of impunities
from the holocaust of 1965, conflict in Aceh,
human rights abuses in West Papua and other abuses that needs to be
The report by the CTF is a critical step toward
opening the Pandora’s Box that contains these
cases of impunity. The report, as a result, could
create a strong foundation for democratic principles in Indonesia.
The genuine relationship between Indonesia and
Timor Leste can only be based on that principle.
It is an opportune time for Jakarta to continue
the judicial process to try the perpetrators on
the basis of the evidence provided in the report.
In addition, recommendations enclosed in the
report — to create a commission for people made
to disappear, to rehabilitate and improve human
dignity, to give amnesty with certain conditions
and to establish a center of documentation and
conflict resolution — are critical to create peace and stability.
Although Yudhoyono has accepted the
recommendations from CTF, his statement can only
be interpreted as empty words to please the
world. The role of the international community,
particularly the Labor government in Canberra,
should be to encourage Yudhoyono’s government to
fully implement the recommendations and follow up the report.
Meanwhile, Canberra’s reaction to the CTF report
was cautious. In an interview with ABC Radio on
July 12, Australia’s Defense Minister Joel
Fitzgibbon said that his government wanted to
look forward, not backward, toward peace and
stability in Timor Leste and its long-term relationship with Indonesia.
Learning from history is critical to looking
forward. Has Canberra examined their foreign
policy to see whether to engage in security
cooperation with Jakarta? Great mistakes have
been made in Timor Leste. Repeating the same mistakes should be avoided.
The report also emphasized that to avoid such
atrocities in the future, Indonesia needs to
genuinely implement security sector reform according to democratic
Reform toward a transparent and accountable
security sector is only at the beginning rather
than being finalized. Empowering security sector
reform within Indonesian security institutions
not only benefits the maturation of the
Indonesian democracy, it can also create the
maturation of international relationships with Indonesia.
The current Australian government’s position to
create a healthy relationship with Indonesians
needs to be proven by addressing obstacles to the
democratic process in Indonesia, including the
legal impunity of high officials. The
participation of Kevin Rudd’s administration to
address impunity in Indonesia through the justice
principle will be accepted by many Indonesian as
a great achievement to create a healthy relationship.
By contrast, Canberra’s unwillingness to
participate in eradicating impunity in Indonesia
is only creating a political soap-operatic
relationship with Jakarta ruling elites.
Canberra’s aid excludes the justice issue (truth
and reconciliation) in Aceh. This has created great concern.
The removal of the Howard government from office
in Canberra and the strong support behind
Democrat presidential candidate Obama are signals
that the political ideology about the benefit of
global markets and the neglect of social justice,
is not the solution to create peace and stability today.
This message is also echoed within Indonesian
social and political life. The reports says
former armed forces commander Wiranto and former
Army Special Forces (Kopassus) and Strategic
Reserve Command (Kostrad) chief Prabowo Subianto
were perpetrators of the atrocities toward Timor Leste.
Wiranto and Subianto are currently running for
presidential election. In the Indonesian media,
they promote themselves as the saviors of the
nation. But current polling shows their support
is less than 5 percent, indicating Indonesians
widely reject the old Soeharto ideology.
The cold war era is over, so too is the
Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste under the
West’s blessing. The world should start a new
chapter and support those in Indonesia and Timor
Leste seeking justice for the millions of human
rights victims in both countries.
After all, human rights, social justice and
democracy have become the global standards worldwide today.
The writer is the program coordinator for
Indonesian Solidarity, a non-profit organization
that supports human rights in Indonesia.
Indonesian Solidarity is based in Sydney, Australia.
Joyo Indonesia News Service
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