Monthly Archives: November 2011

Open Letter to President Obama from West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Act

(ETAN)For Immediate Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391,

Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078,

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

November 15, 2011

Dear President Obama,

President Obama meets with President Yudhoyono at the Istana Merdeka
State Palace Complex in Jakarta, Nov. 9, 2010. (Official White House
Photo by Pete Souza)

We urge you to seize the opportunity of your imminent return to
Indonesia to consider the challenges and opportunities posed by the
U.S.-Indonesia relationship more realistically than you have up to
now. Your Administration urgently needs a policy that addresses the
problems created by the Indonesian security forces’ escalating
violations of human rights and criminality and its failure to submit to
civilian control. The recent 20th anniversary of the 1991 Santa Cruz
massacre in Dili. East Timor (Timor-Leste), when hundreds of peaceful
protesters were massacred by Indonesian troops wielding U.S. supplied
weapons, reminds us that a lack of accountability for past crimes — in
Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago — keeps those affected from
moving on with their lives, while contributing to impunity in the

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any
accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual
personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against
civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is
woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction,
is not commensurate with the crime.

Indonesia’s security forces, including the Kopassus special forces and
U.S.-funded and -trained Detachment (Densus) 88, continue to employ
against civilians weaponry supplied by the U.S. and to use tactics
developed as result of U.S. training. In West Papua, these security
forces have repeatedly attacked civilians, most recently participants
in the October 16-19 Congress and striking workers at theFreeport
McMoRan mine. Those assaulted were peacefully asserting their right to
assemble and freedom of speech. At the Congress, combined forces,
including regular military units, Kopassus, the militarized police
(Brimob) and Detachment 88, killed at least five civilians, beat scores
more, and were responsible for the disappearance of others.

Moreover, in the central highlands of West Papua, these same forces
regularly conduct so called “sweeping operations,” purportedly in
search of the very small armed Papuan resistance. These operations have
led to the deaths of many innocent civilians and driven thousands from
their village into forests where they face life threatening conditions
due to inadequate access to shelter, food and medical care.

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any
accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual
personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against
civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is
woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction,
is not commensurate with the crime. Several videoed incidents of
military torture of civilians — widely discussed during your November
2010 visit to Indonesia — concluded in just such failures of justice.
The concept of command responsibility is rarely considered in the
military tribunals.

International monitoring of these developments in West Papua is
severely hampered by Indonesian government restrictions on access to
and travel within West Papua by foreign journalists, diplomats,
researchers, and human rights and humanitarian officials. The
International Committee of the Red Cross remains barred from operating
an office in West Papua. Indonesian journalists and human rights
officials face threats and worse when they try to monitor developments

Elsewhere in Indonesia, too many times security forces have stood by or
actively assisted in attacks on minority religions, including deadly
attacks on Ahmadiyah followers.

The Indonesian security forces — especially the military — are
largely unreformed: it has failed to fully divest itself of its
business empire, its remains unaccountable before the law, and
continues to violate human rights. These forces constitute a grave
threat to the continued development of Indonesian democracy. The
upcoming national elections in Indonesia present a particularly urgent
challenge. The Indonesian military is in position to pervert the
democratic process as it has in the past. The military has frequently
provoked violence at politically sensitive times, such as in 1998 when
it kidnapped tortured and murdered democratic activists. For many
years it has relied on its unit commanders, active at the District,
sub-District and even village level to influence the selection of party
candidates and the elections themselves. The territorial command system
is still in place. In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on
security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in
Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history.

Given this threat to democracy and to individuals posed by Indonesian
forces, it is essential that the U.S. employ the significant leverage
that comes from Indonesia’s desire for U.S. security assistance and
training to insist on real reforms of Indonesian security forces.
Rhetorical calls for reforms are clearly insufficient. These
exhortations have manifestly not worked and readily brushed aside.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent expression of
“concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights” in Papua
were dismissed by a spokesperson for Indonesia’s President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono , who called the escalating rights violations “only
isolated incidents.”

In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance
have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your
Administration should learn from this history and quickly suspend
training for those units whose human rights records and impunity are
especially egregious, as required by the Leahy law. We specifically
urge you to end plans to re-engage with Kopassus and to end assistance
to Detachment 88. These actions would demonstrate U.S. Government
seriousness in pursuit of real reforms of the security forces in


Ed McWilliams for WPAT

John M. Miller for ETAN

see also
On 20th Anniversary of Timor Massacre, Rights Network Urges Justice,
ETAN Says U.S. and UN Must Act (November 12, 2011) Statement of East
Timor and Indonesia Action Network on President Obama’s Visit to
Indonesia (November 5, 2010) West Papua Advocacy Team: Open Letter to
President Obama on The Eve of His Visit to Indonesia (November 4) ETAN:
Open Letter to President Barack Obama on His 2010 Visit to Indonesia
(March 18, 2010)


Amnesty statement on 20th anversary Santa Cruz massacre


12 November 2011
Index: ASA 57/004/2011

Timor-Leste: Santa Cruz massacre – still waiting for justice
20 years later

Amnesty International calls on the governments of
Timor-Leste and Indonesia to provide justice for
the victims of the Santa Cruz massacre which took
place 20 years ago in Dili, the capital. On the
morning of 12 November 1991 the Indonesian
security forces violently suppressed a peaceful
procession of some 3,000 Timorese people to the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili.

Both governments must investigate and bring to
justice all those responsible for unlawful
killings, enforced disappearances, excessive use
of force and other human rights violations during the peaceful demonstration.

The continued failure _ twenty years later _–
to hold all the perpetrators to account
highlights a wider problem of impunity for crimes
under international law and other human rights
violations committed during the Indonesian
occupation of Timor-Leste (then East Timor) between 1975 and 1999.

Many of the Timorese had attended an early
morning memorial for Sebastião Gomes Rangel, who
had reportedly been killed by Indonesian security
forces on 28 October 1991. As the procession made
its way to the cemetery, pro-independence banners
and flags were raised. Minutes after the crowd
arrived at the cemetery, the security forces
opened fire. No warning was given.

According to eyewitness accounts obtained by
Amnesty International immediately after the
massacre, some soldiers fired into the air but
others levelled their weapons at the crowd. The
cemetery walls and the large crowd made it
difficult to escape, but the shooting continued
even as people tried to flee. Some were believed
to have been shot in the back while running away.
Many of the demonstrators were shot and killed,
or otherwise injured. Hundreds of people were
said to have been badly injured during the incident.

In a report released in 1994, the UN Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions found that members of the Indonesian
military were responsible for killings during the
event and that the response was “a planned
military operation designed to deal with a public
expression of political dissent in a way not in
accordance with international human rights standards”.

The precise numbers of those killed, disappeared
and injured during the massacre and in the
immediate aftermath remains unknown, although it
is estimated that over 200 people were killed or
disappeared and around 400 wounded. Two decades
later, calls for justice have yet to be fulfilled
and attempts to hold the perpetrators to account have been weak.

In 2001, the Timorese government set up the
Commission for Reception, Truth and
Reconciliation in East Timor (Comissão de
Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação, CAVR),
mandated to inquire into and establish the truth
regarding human rights violations which occurred
between 1974 and 1999. In 2005 the Commission
published its report, which recommended the
investigation and prosecution of those suspected
of serious crimes under international law
committed from 1975-1999, including the Santa
Cruz massacre. According to the Commission,
despite evidence of the direct involvement of 72
military officers, to date only 10 have been
tried and sentenced by military courts to between
eight and 18 months’ imprisonment. The Commission
further recommended steps to establish the
whereabouts and fate of the disappeared and reparation for victims.

Amnesty International urges the Timorese and
Indonesian authorities to initiate promptly an
independent, impartial and effective
investigation into the events at the Santa Cruz
cemetery on 12 November 1991. This investigation
should be within the framework of a wider
investigation into serious crimes committed
during 1975-1999. The Timorese and Indonesian
authorities should also bring the perpetrators to
justice in fair trials without the death penalty
and ensure that victims receive full reparation.

The vast majority of those accused of human
rights violations are believed to have been given
safe haven in Indonesia, and Amnesty
International urges the Indonesian authorities to
co-operate fully with investigations and
prosecutions of persons accused of crimes in
Timor-Leste between 1975 and 1999, including by
entering into extradition and mutual legal
assistance agreements with Timor-Leste.

Amnesty International also reiterates its call to
the United Nations Security Council to take
immediate steps to establish a long-term
comprehensive plan to end impunity for these
crimes. As part of that plan, the Security
Council should establish an international
criminal tribunal with jurisdiction over all
crimes under international law committed in Timor-Leste between 1975 and 1999.

In 2005, a UN Commission of Experts recommended
that the Security Council adopt a resolution
under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to create an
ad hoc international criminal tribunal for
Timor-Leste if genuine steps have not been taken
towards holding to account those responsible for
crimes against humanity and war crimes in
Timor-Leste. Six years later, such steps have still not been taken.

Amnesty International further calls on the
Government of Timor-Leste to implement the
recommendation of the CAVR to establish a public
register of missing persons and those killed
between 1975 and 1999 and to undertake jointly
with the Indonesian government a systematic
inquiry to establish the whereabouts and fate of those who went missing.

Amnesty International also calls on the
Timor-Leste and Indonesian governments to ratify
the International Convention for the Protection
of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance at the
earliest opportunity, incorporate its provisions
into domestic law, and implement it in policy and practice.

US arms trade

Link to unclassified documents on arms trade to Indonesia with the implication (suprize suprize) that the UK and others pay bribes: