Action Alert – protest at release of alleged war criminal Martenus Bere to Indonesian Embassy in Dil

Protest at the release of alleged perpetrator of Suai massacre to
Indonesian Embassy in Dili

On Sunday August 30, 2009, Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao
ordered the release of alleged mass murderer Martenus Bere from Becora
Prison to the custody of the Indonesian Embassy in Dili.

Bere was arrested near Suai, close to the southern end of the border
with Indonesia, in mid August 2009, after crossing the border to take
part in a funeral. There was an outstanding warrant from the UN Serious
Crimes Unit in 2003 for his arrest as a militia commander during the
notorious Suai massacre, which took place on September 6, 1999, two
days after the declaration of the historic 1999 UN-administered
referendum on integration of Timor Leste into Indonesia.

It is unclear how many were murdered that day in and around the church
at Suai, but those murdered included three priests, about 100 people
inside the church, and another unknown number outside the church. It is
believed that up to 200 were murdered – men, women and children. The
massacre was conducted under the command of Indonesian military
officers and militia leaders like Martenus Bere.

During ceremonies to mark the 10th anniversary of the Timorese people’s
triumph in voting overwhelmingly for independence in 1999, current
President Jose Ramos Horta declared firmly that there should be no
United Nations prosecutions for crimes against humanity during the
Indonesian invasion of 1975, the ensuing 24 years of occupation and
then the holocaust of September 1999. For this statement Horta was
denounced by Christina Carrascalao, whose brother and others were slain
by the Aitarak militia at their home in 1999, before the referendum,
and by FRETILIN MP Jose Teixeira. However, since then President Horta
has called for the prosecution of those who murdered the journalists in
1975 and 1999.

The release of Bere to the Indonesian Embassy drew sharp criticism from
the Timor Leste representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human
rights, Mr Louis Gentile: “His release is contrary to the Security
Council resolutions which set up the UN mission in Timor Leste and
completely undermines the principle of accountability for crimes
against humanity globally,” Mr Gentile told Reuters. “This has global
significance”.

It is an abuse of the principle of the independence of the judiciary
from the executive that the Prime Minister could have ordered the
transfer of Mr Bere from the Prison to the Indonesian Embassy.

In solidarity

Peter Murphy

Timor-Leste Democracy Support Network, Australia

Take action

Write a short protest letter to Prime Minister Gusmao to call for the
return of Martenus Bere to Becore Prison and for him to be put on trial
for his alleged crimes.

Write a short letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, asking the Australian
government to speak out in support of the UN principle, and the
independence of the judiciary.

Suggested draft:

Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao

Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Dili, Timor-Leste

gabinetemediapm@gmail.com

Return Martenus Bere to Becora Prison for his alleged crimes against
humanity

Dear Prime Minister,

I am shocked and angered that you could order the transfer of the
notorious militia leader Martenus Bere from Becora Prison to the
Indonesian Embassy last Sunday, when your people, and indeed good
people all over the world, were paying respect to those men, women and
children who died to vote for independence 10 years ago that day.

I agree with the Timorese people who have expressed their profound
dismay, nausea and anger at this decision. Mr Bere was allegedly a
leader of the notorious Suai massacre in September 1999.

I agree with the United Nations Mission’s statement on the principles
involved in this case:

The United Nations’ general position — and as repeatedly stated by the
Secretary General — is that there must be no impunity for serious
crimes such as crimes against humanity. Accountability is an essential
foundation to consolidating the rule of law and protecting human rights
– it goes hand in hand with building lasting peace and prosperity.
Concrete steps need to be taken to ensure full accountability, to end
impunity and to provide reparations to victims in accordance with
international human rights standards and principles.

I urge you most strenuously to reverse this decision, have Martenus Bere
returned to Becora Prison, and give him a fair trial for his alleged
crimes so that justice can be done, and lasting peace and prosperity
can be built.

I am very concerned that you could order the release of an arrested
person from custody, since you are not a judicial officer, and this
kind of decision is the responsibility of the judiciary.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Kevin Rudd MHR

Prime Minister of Australia

Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

Fax: 02 6273 4100

http://www.pm.gov.au/PM_Connect/Email_your_PM

Martenus Bere should be returned to Becora Prison in Timor-Leste

Dear Mr Rudd,

I am shocked and angered that the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste could
order the transfer of the notorious militia leader Martenus Bere from
Becora Prison to the Indonesian Embassy last Sunday, when the Timorese
people, and indeed good people all over the world, were paying respect
to those men, women and children who died to vote for independence 10
years ago that day.

I agree with the Timorese people who have expressed their profound
dismay, nausea and anger at this decision.

I agree with the United Nations Mission’s statement on the principles
involved in this case:

The United Nations’ general position — and as repeatedly stated by the
Secretary General — is that there must be no impunity for serious
crimes such as crimes against humanity. Accountability is an essential
foundation to consolidating the rule of law and protecting human rights
– it goes hand in hand with building lasting peace and prosperity.
Concrete steps need to be taken to ensure full accountability, to end
impunity and to provide reparations to victims in accordance with
international human rights standards and principles.

I urge the Australian government to publicly endorse the UN position
against impunity for crimes against humanity, and to call for this
decision to be reversed, to have Martenus Bere returned to Becora
Prison, so that he can be given a fair trial for his alleged crimes in
the Suai massacre of September 1999.

I also urge the Australian government to publicly call for the
independence of the judiciary in Timor-Leste to be respected. How can a
Prime Minister order the release of an arrested person from custody,
since this kind of decision is the responsibility of the judiciary?

Yours sincerely,

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