Tuesday, December 7, 2010

35th Anniversary of U.S.-backed Indonesian Invasion of East Timor

Today, December 7, 2010, marks the 35th anniversary of the U.S.-backed Indonesian invasion of East Timor. On the 30th anniversary of Indonesia's full-scale assault on Timor, ETAN
"called on the world to listen to East Timor’s victims and act on their demands for justice. The group also urged the United States government to formally acknowledge its past support for Indonesia’s brutal military occupation of East Timor, and for the international community to learn from this history and never repeat the same crimes."
December 7 invasion day, via Timor Archives

It is well-documented that the Indonesian military launched its 1975 invasion just hours after then President Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave their explicit permission to go ahead. They reassured Suharto that U.S. military support would continue, despite U.S. law and Indonesia's treaty obligations. U.S. weapons, military training and political support enabled Indonesia to seize the territory and maintain its occupation for 24 years. These brutal events claimed the lives of up to 200,000 people.

The report of Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (known by its Portuguese initials, CAVR) thoroughly documents the impact of the Indonesia's illegal invasion and occupation.
While the report was long ago officially delivered to the U.S. and other governments, the CAVR's recommendations to the international community remain largely ignored. anniversary. Despite being urged to do so, President Obama did not address these issues during his recent visit to Jakarta.

Kopassus troops
We continue to urge the U.S. government and Congress to seriously respond to the report by holding hearings and formally acknowledge the U.S. role in the suffering of the East Timorese and Indonesian peoples. The U.S. and others who backed Indonesia should apologize and provide reparations. The U.S. should work to establish an international tribunal to try those most responsible the heinous crimes committed in Timor-Leste from 1975-1999 and withhold support for Indonesia's security forces especially their most brutal units - including Kopassus, as recommended by the CAVR to encourage genuine accountability and promote reform. These forces continue to terrorize the people of West Papua.

We highlight some of the CAVR's  most pertinent recommendations after the jump.

7.1 Justice for past atrocities

7.1.9. The  international  community  urges  and  supports  Indonesia  to  declassify  information
held by the Indonesian security forces so that it is available for judicial processes

7.1.12. The  international  community demonstrates  its  commitment  to  justice and  the Serious
Crimes process by, inter alia:

  • ensuring that their law enforcement authorities are enabled to transfer those indicted to the Serious Crimes regime established by the UN, to try those indicted themselves or to extradite them to a jurisdiction genuinely interested in trying them
  • ensuring that persons responsible for the crimes described in this report are not allowed to continue profitable careers regardless of their crimes
  • establishing a special board of investigation under the auspices of the United Nations to establish the extent, nature and location of assets held by those indicted for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste
  • freezing the assets of all those indicted for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste, subject to national and international laws and pending hearing of cases before the relevant tribunal
  • placing travel bans on those indicted for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste
  • linking international aid and cooperation to specific steps by Indonesia towards accountability, such as cooperation with the Serious Crimes process, the vetting of perpetrators who continue their careers in the public sector, and the scrutinising of Indonesian members of peacekeeping missions and training courses to ensure that alleged perpetrators of violations are not included.

7.2 International tribunal

The Commission recommends that:

7.2.1. The United Nations and  its relevant organs,  in particular  the Security Council,  remains seized of the matter of justice for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste for as long as necessary, and be prepared  to  institute an  International Tribunal pursuant  to Chapter VII  of  the UN Charter  should  other measures  be  deemed  to  have  failed  to  deliver  a sufficient measure of justice and Indonesia persists in the obstruction of justice.

1. Timor-Leste and the international community

The relationship of Timor-Leste to other nations was defined by the nature of the political conflicts
between 1974 and 1999. The conflict in Timor-Leste was not primarily an internal conflict but one
of  foreign  intervention,  invasion  and  occupation  that  caused  the  people  of  Timor-Leste  great
suffering  and  loss  and  violated  international  law  and  human  rights  which  the  international
community was duty bound  to protect and uphold. While  these relationships have evolved since
the intervention of the United Nations in 1999, there are a number of steps to be taken which will- 4 -
assist  the  building  of  this  new  nation  and  its  international  relations  and  to  ensure  that TimorLeste’s experience is not repeated in other situations.

The Commission recommends that:

1.1. This Report  is  given  the widest  possible  distribution  at  all  levels  in  the  international community  through  the media,  internet and other networks and particularly within  the United Nations and  those  individual nations and  institutions  that are highlighted  in  the Report, viz. Australia, China, Britain, France,  Indonesia, Japan, Portugal, Russia, US, the  Catholic  Church,  as  well  as  the  East  Timorese  diaspora  and  international  civil society organisations.

1.2. This Report  is  disseminated  at  all  levels  in  the Community  of Portuguese  Language Countries  (Communidade dos Paises de Lingua Portuguesa, CPLP) with a  view  to  it contributing  to  greater  understanding  of  Timor-Leste  as  the  newest member  of  the Community.

1.3. This Report  is disseminated at all  levels  in each of  the countries of  the Association of Southeast Asian Nations  (ASEAN)  in  order  to  deepen  appreciation  of  Timor-Leste’s recent history and its needs as a future member of this important regional body.

1.4. The Vatican and  the governments of China, Britain, France, Japan, and Russia make available to Timor-Leste their classified and other archival material on the period 1974-1999 so  that  this  information can be added  to  that already provided by other countries to ensure that Timor-Leste, after so many years of isolation, can build a comprehensive depository of information on its history.

1.5. The  UN  Secretary-General  refers  the  Report  to  the  Security  Council,  the  General Assembly,  the  Special  Committee  on  Decolonisation  and  the  UN  Commission  on Human Rights, and  requests  that each of  these bodies devotes a  special  session  to discussion and reflection on the Report and the lessons to be learned from its contents and findings.

1.6. The states  that had military cooperation programmes with  the  Indonesian Government during  the Commission’s mandate  period, whether  or  not  this  assistance was  used directly  in Timor-Leste, apologise  to  the people of Timor-Leste  for  failing  to adequately uphold  internationally agreed  fundamental  rights and  freedoms  in Timor-Leste during the Indonesian occupation.

1.7. The Permanent Members of  the Security Council, particularly  the US but also Britain and France, who gave military backing  to  the  Indonesian Government between 1974 and 1999 and who are duty bound  to uphold  the highest principles of world order and peace and to protect the weak and vulnerable, assist the Government of Timor-Leste in the  provision  of  reparations  to  victims  of  human  rights  violations  suffered  during  the Indonesian occupation.

1.8. Business corporations which profited  from  the sale of weapons  to  Indonesia during  the occupation  of Timor-Leste  and  particularly  those whose material was  used  in Timor-Leste contribute to the reparations programme for victims of human rights violations.

1.9. All UN member states refuse a visa  to any  Indonesian military officer who  is named  in this  Report  for  either  violations  or  command  responsibility  for  troops  accused  of violations  and  take  other  measures  such  as  freezing  bank  accounts until  that individual’s innocence has been independently and credibly established.

1.10. States regulate military sales and cooperation with Indonesia more effectively and make such  support  totally  conditional  on  progress  towards  full  democratisation,  the subordination  of  the  military  to  the  rule  of  law  and  civilian  government,  and  strict adherence  with  international  human  rights,  including  respect  for  the  right  of  self-determination.

1.11. The governments of Australia, Britain and New Zealand undertake a  joint  initiative  to establish the truth about the deaths of the six foreign journalists in Timor-Leste in 1975 so that the facts and accountability are finally established.

1.12. The international Catholic Church, led by the Vatican, honours Dom Martinho da Costa Lopes  and  the Catholic  sisters,  priests  and  laity who were  killed  in  1999  seeking  to protect the people of Timor-Leste.

1.13. The documents and any other material relating to the events of 1999 and militia activity that were allegedly  removed  to Australia  for safe-keeping after  the arrival of  Interfet  in 1999 be returned to Timor-Leste by the Government of Australia.

1.14. The Government of Timor-Leste, with  the support of  the United Nations, honours  the contribution  of  international  civil  society  to  the  promotion  of  human  rights  in  TimorLeste, particularly  the  right of self-determination, and  invites civil society organisations to contribute their documentation on this struggle to the people of Timor-Leste as a tool for remembering and fostering ongoing relations and solidarity

1.15. Support,  both  practical  and  financial,  be  given  by  business,  philanthropic  bodies, corporations and academic  institutions  to assist key East Timorese  figures and others to document their histories and experiences in order to build up the limited stock of East Timorese-generated literature for future generation

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