Tuesday, December 29, 2009

for the New Year!

ETAN wishes one and all a fulfilling and peace-filled New Year! May the peoples of Timor-Leste and Indonesia find the peace, prosperity and justice they so deserve.

Thank you for your support in the year now ending. We look foward to working with you in the coming year.

Tinan Foun Kmanek!
Feliz Ano NovoE!
Selamat Tahun Baru!
Happy New Year!

John M. Miller for the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

Support ETAN in 2010. Donate here: http://www.etan.org/etan/2010app.htm#online

Monday, December 21, 2009

The year of human rights paradox for Indonesia

Usman Hamid of KontraS looks back at Indonesia's year in human rights in today's Jakarta Post.

He writes that there are "improvements that need to be appreciated,
including the parliamentary decision "that recommends the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono establish an ad hoc human rights court for enforced disappearance cases, including finding the fate and the whereabouts of missing persons, to provide rehabilitation and compensation to the victims and their families and to ratify the United Convention Against Enforced Disappearance."
These changes don't balance the ledger:  the "achievements were nothing compared to the stagnation of justice concerning other important human rights violations, including the acquittal of former Commander of Army’s Special Forces and Deputy V of State Intelligence Agency Muchdi P.R.in the murder of human rights defender Munir."

He writes that "the situation in Papua is also deteriorating... could worsen if there is no genuine dialogue between the central government and representatives from Papua."

In the context of legislative and institutional reform, the government and the parliament didn’t even meet the targets in the National Action Plan on Human Rights 2004-2009 that includes the ratification of the Rome Statue and several other conventions on migrant, genocide and refugees.

Furthermore, the parliament and the executive have failed to revise the law on military tribunals, where the police has been blocked from investigating crimes committed by military personnel.

By having this law, soldiers will continue to enjoy impunity in the future."
Read the full article here

Saturday, December 19, 2009

ETAN/WPAT: Statement on Killing of Papuan Leader Kelly Kwalik

Contact: Ed McWilliams, West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT), +1-401-568-5845
John M. Miller, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), +1-718-596-7668

The December 16 killing of pro-Papuan independence leader Kelly Kwalik by Indonesian police risks further alienation of Papuans and is likely to seriously undermine Papuan efforts to begin an internationally-mediated dialogue with the Indonesian government. Simultaneous police allegations that Kwalik was involved in lethal attacks in the Timika area in this year and in 2002 are not credible. Making Kwalik a scapegoat only serves to mask the failure of Indonesian authorities to credibly resolve these cases.

The evidence clearly points to Indonesian military involvement in the 2002 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of three teachers, including two Americans, at the Freeport mine. Recently, Kwalik in a meeting with security officials categorically denied that Papuan pro-independence fighters were behind this year's attacks near the mine. His denial of responsibility was supported by police officials, who countered initial claims by military officials that the attacks were the work of the pro-independence fighters.

Kwalik has in recent years endorsed a Papua-wide effort to seek a negotiated settlement with Jakarta by creating a Zone of Peace in the region.

Violent protests by Papuans angered over the killing of yet another Papuan leader underscore how distrustful Papuans are of Indonesian security authorities. The killing could lead to further hardening of Papuan attitudes toward cooperation with Jakarta.

Beyond these consequences, there are immediate questions:
  • Was Kwalik's presence a result of police subterfuge?  Was he lured from his jungle stronghold by police offer of discussion along the lines of a meeting with the chief of police several months earlier?
  • What is the fate of those arrested at the time of the shooting of Kwalik, including that of the ten year old boy among those detained?
  • Was appropriate, timely, medical attention afforded to the wounded Kwalik after he was shot?
  • In the wake of this killing, will the Indonesian Government finally respond to efforts by Papuans to launch an internationally facilitated dialogue to address critical issues, including security force brutality and legal impunity, marginalization of Papuans in their own land and environmental destruction?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dili Insider blog shuts down due to threats

The attacks on the Dili Insider are an unfortunate assault on freedom of information and debate. That people would resort to threats to suppress information and views they disagree with rather than debate them must be challenged.

If you have information that they might have otherwise shared with the Dili Insider, you are welcome to contact us. If it checks out, we will certainly consider sharing it on our listserv, website and this blog.

We believe it is very important to stand up to bullies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Timor Parliament passes resolution on CAVR and CTF reports

On December 14, the Timor-Leste parliament passed a long-delayed resolution on implementing the recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR) and Commission on Truth and Friendship (CVA/CTF) reports. The resolution passed with 34 yes vote in the affirmative, none opposed, and one abstention. Below is an unofficial English translation by La'o Hamutuk; the Portuguese language original follows afterwards. The resolution gives Parliament at least another three months to discuss implementation in committee.


Draft Resolution No 34/II.
Implementation of the Recommendations of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation and the Commission of Truth and Friendship

Considering the work of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), established by UNTAET Regulation No 2001/10 and recognized by Article 162 of the Constitution of the Republic, with a mandate to investigate and report on human rights violations occurred in Timor-Leste between 25 April 1974 and 25 October 1999 and make recommendations to prevent future repetition of such violations;

Considering the CAVR Final Report, presented to the President of the Republic and the National Parliament in accordance as provided by law, and its recommendations;

Considering the work of the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CVA/CTF), established under the Joint Timor-Leste – Indonesia Declaration of 14 December 2004, mandated to establish the truth about human rights violations which occurred in East Timor in 1999 and to recommend appropriate measures;

Considering the Final Report of the CVA, presented on July 15, 2008 to the Presidents of the Republic of Timor-Leste and Indonesia and on 9 October of the same year to the National Parliament, and its recommendations;

Considering the need to recognize and honor the suffering of victims by ensuring their fair compensation;

Given the need to implement the recommendations made in the CAVR and CTF reports in order to reconcile the East Timorese society;

Therefore, in conjunction with Articles 9.1(b), 90 and 100 of the Rules of Procedure of the National Parliament, the Members who have signed the following draft resolution:

The National Parliament in accordance with Articles 92, 95.1 and 162.1 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, resolves the following:

1.    Recognizes the important work of the CAVR and CTF, which represents a valuable contribution to reach truth, reconciliation and justice;

2.    Appreciates the Final Reports submitted by the CAVR and CTF;

3.    Determines what practical steps are necessary and appropriate to the full implementation of their recommendations;

4.    The Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Justice, Public Administration, Local Government and Government Legislation shall, within three months, as per the preceding paragraphs:

a)    review the reports submitted by the CAVR and CTF;

b)    To propose concrete measures to implement the Recommendations, including the creation of a body for this purpose, in terms to be defined by law;

5.    Publish the Executive Summary of the CAVR in Portuguese and Tetum, in accordance with the provisions of UNTAET Regulation No 2001/10;

6.    Publish the CVA report in full.

Portuguese original  after the jump.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Joint Statement, Copenhagen: SE Asian Leaders - Go for Solution Not Delusion!

Southeast Asian Leaders - Go for Solution Not Delusion!
A Joint Statement, Copenhagen, Denmark, December 14, 2009

Copenhagen - 14 December 2009:

We, members of Oilwatch Southeast Asia [i] and Indonesian Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice (CSF) declare our common position and demands on the current climate negotiation in COP 15 UNFCCC Copenhagen. We have witnessed the lack of leadership among industrial countries to significantly cut carbon emission let alone show their responsibility to support developing countries to tackle the impacts of climate change.

Southeast Asia is considered as one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to impacts of climate crisis. Most of the Southeast Asian countries are poor and majority of the population in the region live in deep poverty resulting to a very low capacity to adapt to climate change impacts. The location of the region poses high risk for disasters such as typhoons, droughts, earthquakes, and flooding.

We are disappointed that the negotiations in COP15 UNFCCC do not take into account the reality in the ground that fossil fuel exploitation by industrial countries have been going from strength to strength. Oil and gas projects of transnational corporations are mushrooming and demand for coal is increasing [ii].

Big foreign and private corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell, BHP Biliton, CNUOC, Chevron Texaco, Amarada Hess, Conoco Phillips and Bumi Resources, are the same actors who plunder natural resources and pollute the environment [iii]. These big corporations control and exploit the rich natural resources of the region particularly fossil resources like oil, gas and coal. Also these entities with the support of international financial institutions like International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, are the owners and suppliers of fossil-based technologies and products that the people of Southeast Asian are forced to be dependent with.

Given the fact that burning and consumption of fossil fuels especially oil and coal is the leading cause of global carbon emission, we demand the national governments in Southeast Asia
  • To agree on a common position to push for more than 40% carbon reduction from ANNEX I countries by 2020 from the level of 1990.
  • To demand from ANNEX I countries to compensate Third World countries from ecological debt and fund their mitigation and adaptation initiatives
  • To declare an immediate moratorium on new exploration and commercial operation of oil, gas and coal by big transnational companies in the region.
  • To define a concrete timeline and comprehensive plan on eventual phase out of fossil fuel extraction and usage in the region.
In this regard there should be a significant investment on research and fast development of technologies that harness alternative and renewable resources of energy that are cheap, safe and clean. This is needed to make the economy and energy needs of Southeast Asia to veer away from relying on the production and consumption of fossil fuels. Majority of the income and revenues from the existing extraction of fossil fuel in the regions should be automatically appropriated for funding public services

We oppose the false solutions being implemented and pushed for by ANNEX I countries and their transnational corporations such as carbon trading, clean development mechanism, the proposed REDD and 'clean' coal technologies. These market-based and profit-oriented solutions put the interest of private corporations and ruling elite above anything else.

We push for the leaders of Southeast Asia countries to unite for truly address the issue of climate change and curb global warming. There should be a reversal of the orientation and framework of economic development and production in the region. In this regard, climate solutions should be based on human security, rectification of ecological debt, land rights, the change of production and consumption pattern, to realize social justice and people's sovereignty.

These principles ensure in the heart of climate solutions are the welfare and interest of the people and the environment.

The Oilwatch Southeast Asia, CSF, PACC, La'o Hamutuk and TCJ remain committed not only in pushing for genuine climate solutions but also in steadfastly fight along with grassroots communities against agreement, policies, program and projects that will further aggravate climate change and endanger our communities.

Media contacts:
  • Clemente Bautista, People's Action on Climate Change (PACC), email: entengi2@yahoo.com.ph; cell phone:  +45.2639.2749
  • Ines  Martius, Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis, email: ines@laohamutuk.org; cell phone:  +45 5274 8769 
  • Siti Maemunah, CSF Indonesia, email: mai@jatam.org;  cell phone +45 5049 956
  • Penchom Saetang, Thai Working Group for Climate Justice (TCJ), email: toxiccampaign.earth@gmail.com cell phone: +45 2862 7267

[i] Oilwatch SEA is a regional alliance of fossil fuels-affected communities and support organizations from Arakan Oil Watch from  Burma;  Indonesian Civil Society Forum on Climate Justice (CSF) and JATAM from Indonesia; Friends of the Earth from Malaysia; People's Action on Climate Change (PACC), Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) and Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center Inc. from Philippines, Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La'o hamutuk) from Timor Leste; and Thai Working for Climate Justice (TCJ) and Ecological Alert and Recovery

[ii] Almost half of Indonesia coal production, - around 100 million tons - , was extracted by Bumi Resources mostly for export.  The company Climate Justice and Ecological Alert and Recovery  --Thailand from Thailand.

[iii] Today 80% of 216 million tons total coal product from Indonesia is aimed for export and the demand has been increasing over the year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mahathir and Timor

UPDATE II: A Malaysian court, December 22, awarded a total of RM870,000 (30,000 each) to activists, who were held by police in the aftermath of the the attack on the APCET II conference 13 years ago. They were held for up to six days. The AFP summarizes:
As the [APECET II] meeting was about to begin in a hotel, 400 people led by the ruling United Malays National Organisation's (Umno) leaders broke down the conference hall doors, flung chairs and abused the participants, the court was told. Police later moved in to arrest more than 100 people, including journalists, while 40 foreign participants were deported. The activists later filed the suit to claim damages for their mistreatment during the arrest and detention.
UPDATE: Here is President Ramos-Horta's speech on giving the award to Mahathir. Also added links to video of the attack on APCET II conference.

Timor-Leste's President Jose Ramos-Horta will present the “Order of Timor-Leste” Collar to the former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on Friday December 11. The announcement came today - December 10 - which is of course Human Rights Day.

A Malaysian activist recently shared his thoughts about the award:
"I am disappointed and sadden by the decision of Horta and the East Timor Govt. I am ... try[ing] my best to appreciate the need of Timor Leste to foster good diplomatic relationship with neighbours. However decorating Dr Mahathir is not only a mistake but a gross misjudgement. It is ... insensitive to e Malaysian political situation. Dr Mahathir is remembered as the most corrupted dictator in Malaysian history. Under his reign activities supporting Timorese struggle had been heavily suppressed. The award is a great irony."
 As Prime Minister was a staunch advocate of Asian exceptionalism concerning individual human rights, aedligning with Suharto and China among others. He once called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights oppressive. He strongly backed the Indonesian postion on East Timor. Two examples:

In 1997, Dr. Mahathir's goons (members of the youth wing of his political party) broke up the Asia Pacific Coaltion for East Timor  APCET II conference in Kuala Lumpur. In 1998, Ramos-Horta
protested his jailing of Tian Chua and others, saying: "Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, together with his gestapo-like police force in their vendetta against reform-minded Malaysians, is ripping away at the foundations of justice and democracy in Malaysia." [Video of the assault on the APCET II conference is here and here. ]

On September 29, 1999, after Timor's independence vote, Mahathir speaking at a  press conference at the UN gave a totally distorted view of events there:
Reports of killings in East Timor were being exaggerated and there seemed to be attempts to vilify Indonesia over its handling of the situation there, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahatir Mohamad, said at a Headquarter's press conference this morning....

The Prime Minister said that Indonesia should not have been forced to hold a referendum at a time that it was "very weak" and was facing problems. He said Indonesia had not been given a chance to campaign, while other political forces had been promised "all kinds of support" for their pro-independence vote. Those who supported integration with Indonesia felt cheated,"and reacted the only way they know", the Prime Minister said. The issue had to be handled properly....

The Prime Minister told another correspondent that before the crisis had erupted in East Timor, people were not being killed. Today, however, he said, many were dying because the situation was being incorrectly handled. Even if you want to give the East Timorese their independence, what is the hurry? Why is it that when Indonesia is in a very weak position, Indonesia is literally forced to hold a referendum - a referendum in which Indonesia had no say and could not even explain its side of the equation to the East Timorese?" he asked.

The Prime Minister said western liberals were always trying to stir up feelings against so-called authoritarian governments. The result was that people suffered, and that was happening in many countries. It had become an almost standard procedure for those opposed to governments to be given the Nobel Peace Prize, he said "It seems that we encourage people to go against whatever government is in power. Whether it is dictatorial or not is another matter", he said.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Purwanto's Balibo revelation

Ex-Kopassus officer Gatot Purwanto revelation in Tempo magazine that he participated in the deliberate killing of the Balibo 5 in October 1975 is important, but contradictory and apparently designed to provide a justification for the killings. If taken at face value, it would absolve his superiors and leave largely intact the Indonesian version of events that crossfire was ultimately responsible for the killings.

The interview and Tempo cover story grow out of attempts to show the "Balibo" film in Indonesia, which was banned by the Indonesian censors. (The Alliance of Indonesia Journalists [AJI] did show the film, defying the ban.) In recent years, other films (documentaries) on Timor have also been banned from showing at the Jakarta International Film Festival (Jiffest). The censorship shows that in post-Suharto Indonesia the establishment is more interested in covering up past crimes and protecting the military officers who committed them, than in expanding democratic freedoms.

As Shirley Shackleton, widow of the murdered Balibo journalist Gregory Shackleton and a staunch advocate for accountability for the human rights crimes committed in East Timor, says that at least part of Purwanto's "confession" contradicts multiple eyewitness testimony. ''I think it [his statement] is a smokescreen to protect his commanding officer, Yunus Yosfiah so that Yosfiah will be able to say, 'I've got eyewitnesses,'' Shackleton, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Purwanto, who with other Indonesian soliders had illegally entered then Portuguese Timor, told Tempo: "If we let them live, they would tell everyone it was an Indonesian invasion. If they died and we abandoned them, there would be evidence that they were shot in territory controlled by Indonesian guerrillas. So, the simple way was to eliminate everything. We just claimed not to know anything. It was the instant reaction at the time." Purwanto also said "the shots happened when we were provoked into shooting at the place where they were hiding, because shots came from there," while they were waiting for orders.

Shirley Shackleton's response:
"He's saying it wasn't crossfire. He also says that the troops fired after a shot came from behind the journalists. (But) there was no one in that village - it was completely deserted. That's bulls---. Team Susi was an assassination squad sent to shut them up. This was bloody murder."

Both the Timor-Leste Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) and the New South Wales Coroner, citing eyewitness accounts,  found there was no crossfire.

The Australian Federal Police, following up on the coroner's report are conducting a war crimes inquiry. Indonesia, always ready to try to bury past military crimes, is refusing to cooperate. It is sticking to the line that the journalists died in crossfire.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Flawed History - What Goes Un-Noted in the State Department's "Background Notes" on Indonesia

Flawed History

What Goes Un-Noted in the State Department's "Background Notes" on Indonesia

by West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

The U.S. Department of State in October published the latest in its series of "Background Notes" regarding Indonesia. The periodic series provides a useful overview of the history, culture, geography, economy, government and politics of foreign nations used by educators, businesses and others. The October 2009 report on Indonesia in many sections is both comprehensive and accurate.

However, the latest report at several points misrepresents key historical developments. In general, the presentation reflects an historical narrative developed by the Indonesian government of the dictator Suharto and subsequently maintained by successor Indonesian administrations. The "Background Notes" generally fail to address accurately the problematic role of the Indonesian military (TNI) either historically or currently. The "Notes" fail to describe the central role of the military in the killing of hundreds of thousands in the period immediately following the seizure of power by Suharto and the mass killings in East Timor and West Papua. The "Background Notes" contend that civilian control of the military is "strengthening," notwithstanding the continued powerful role in Indonesian politics and the economy. The document also fails to note that the military continues to enjoy impunity for past and ongoing human rights violations, corruption and other criminal activity.

Read  the rest here

Thursday, December 3, 2009

from Haburas - save Timor's forests, buy bio-briquettes and fuel efficient stoves

from Haburas in Dili

Dear Santa Claus,

This Christmas what I really want is to help to promote primary industry in Timor Leste whilst saving Timor's forests and natural resources. I have heard that through using bio-briquettes and fuel efficient stoves instead of burning wood I can have a direct effect on the future of Timor Leste's forests and natural resources. I have heard that through using bio-briquettes and fuel efficient stoves instead of burning wood I can have a direct effect on the future of Timor Leste's environmental health and at the same time support local unemployed men, women and youth in Dili.

Please please please can you bring me a Manatuto made Fuel-Efficient, Briquette-Specific Stove for Christmas, they are available at The Haburas Foundation in Farol.

With this stove I can reduce the amount of money my family spends on cooking fuel and even reduce the amount of smoke my family and I inhale when cooking. I have also heard that it is very easy to use and very easy to change from cooking with wood to using bio-briquettes once I have the stove.

Thank you, and Merry Christmas

The Starter Pack of a FEBS Stove, a large bag of Briquettes and an instruction leaflet costs $10. They would make an ideal present for your household, friends or your local staff. Briquettes and stoves will continue to be available from Haburas and other sale locations in the New Year.

The BRIQUETTE PROJECT is a Haburas initiative funded through an AusAid development grant.

UPDATE: Added photo from WhatisMatt. See also IRIN: High hopes for bio-briquettes.
More photos are here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

West Papua Report December 2009

West Papua Report December 2009

This is the 67th in a series of monthly reports that focus on developments affecting Papuans. This series is produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) Back issues are posted online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/default.htm Questions regarding this report can be addressed to Edmund McWilliams at edmcw@msn.com.

Two U.S. Congressman, both sub-committees chairs, have written to President Yudhoyono to urge a dialogue between the Indonesian national government and leaders of West Papua. Among issues the U.S. represented as possible to resolve in such a dialogue were the "demographic shifts leaving many Papuans as minorities in their own land." The Indonesian Government has announced plans to establish a new military command in West Papua. The move, which would significantly increase the military presence in West Papua has drawn opposition from Papuans and beyond. Human rights activists have publicly pressed the Indonesian Government to investigate and prosecute long-standing crimes, notably against Papuans. There is growing public condemnation of the detention and mistreatment of Papuans over their alleged involvement of shooting incidents in the Timika area. As the incidents have continued, it has become self evident that those arrested in July were innocent and that those behind the incidents have demonstrated the firepower, mobility and resources available only to Indonesia's security forces. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the release of Papuans accused of involvement in peaceful flag-raising demonstrations. Convictions of flag-raisers, HRW argues, violates the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Indonesia ratified in 2006. Media reports are beginning to shed light on the abduction of Papuan children by the Indonesian military. The practice, entailing sending the young Papuans to Java, is reminiscent of military abductions of Timorese children during Indonesia's long, brutal occupation of East Timor. There was late-November reporting of more physical abuse of Papuan detainees. 

The full report  can be found online at http://etan.org/issues/wpapua/0912wpap.htm.

Monday, November 30, 2009

LAMETA Hosts TL Ambassador to U.S.

Joao Crisosotomo of LAMETA hosted a reception and welcome in Queens, NY, for Constancio Pinto, Timor-Leste's Ambassador to the U.S. LAMETA (Luso American Movement for East Timorese Auto Determination) was founded in the mid-90s and organized among the Portuguese-American community in support of East Timor. Constancio came with his family.

Amb. Constancio Pinto, John M. Miller (ETAN) and Joao Crisosotomo (LAMETA)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Groups meet Ramos-Horta, urge Timor ratification of disappearances treaty

On behalf of HAK and others, ETAN is circulating a media release concerning President Ramos-Horta's pledge to seek Timor-Leste's signature and ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Four more ratifications are needed before the treaty takes effect.

Read the release here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Letter to Secretary of State Clinton on Defamation Case against Usman Hamid

Joint letter from ETAN and West Papua Advocacy Team
excerpts below, full letter here
We are non-governmental organizations long concerned with human rights and democracy in Indonesia. We are writing to express our concern about the defamation case filed against Usman Hamid, Coordinator of Indonesia's Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) and a prominent human rights defender. Criminal defamation charges carry a maximum sentence of up to four years imprisonment; longer if the subject of the alleged defamation is a government official. The complaint arises from his involvement in the campaign for justice for his murdered colleague, Munir Said Thalib, who was poisoned on September 7, 2004.

We urge that the U.S. government communicate to the Indonesian government at the most senior level its concern that the criminal proceedings against Mr. Hamid set a dangerous precedent for the rule of law in Indonesia. The Indonesian legal system should not be employed to intimidate human rights advocates. Their work is crucial. For too many years those responsible for gross human rights violations have escaped accountability, especially those with command responsibility levels of military and police.
Take Action via Human Rights First: Demand End to Intimidation of Indonesian Activist Seeking Justice

Monday, November 23, 2009

Satellite imaging of environmental damage near Freeport mine in West Papua and in Timor-Leste

Dr. Chris Lavers writes

There is considerable international concern at the rapid growth of the Freeport mine at Grasberg, operated by Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) in West Papua (Irian Jaya) over failures to address human rights and environmental protection issues. For the Amungme tribe, reduction of the beautiful Mount Grasberg, one of the largest Sudirman range peaks, to a vast hole in the ground, has been devastating.
Read the rest here
Figure 4 Central view of the mine (Tambang Terbuka).

see also the ETAN/WPAT: Statement on the operations of the Freeport McMoran Mine in West Papua, Indonesia

The blog Return to Rai Ketak posted several NASA satellite images showing fires throughout Timor-Leste during the height of the dry season.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Timor Parliament Debates the Budget

A committee of Timor-Leste's parliament has rejected the Government's proposed budget, offering detailed criticisms and recommendations.

La'o Hamutuk has posted the complete Portuguese version of the Report of Parliamentary Committee C (Economics, Finance and Anti-Corruption) on the proposed RDTL General State Budget for 2010.

An unofficial English translation of the Recommendations section of the report, including recommendations from all the Parliamentary Standing Committees is here.

The opposition Fretilin party applauds the report, passed with no opposition, but says it doesn't go far enough.
All members of the committee voted in favour of the report, except for the three FRETILIN committee members and the National Unity Party MP and leader, Fernanda Borges, who abstained because the report did not go far enough in condemning the illegality of the so called "referendum package."
La'o Hamutuk collects documents and other information, including its own submission to Parliament, related to the proposed 2010 budget here.

The 20 recommendations of the Commission C in english are here.

UPDATE  - The Government responds here. The Fretilin Bancada blog is here

Juvinal Dias and Charles Scheiner present La'o Hamutuk's testimony to
President Manuel Tilman and other members of Parliament's Committee C.

Monday, November 16, 2009

APEC and Singapore’s Sex Tour Hydrofoil

comment by Jeff Ballinger

APEC and Singapore’s Sex Tour Hydrofoil

How nice for hyper-disciplined Singapore that it has an island bawdy house only half an hour away! Human rights activists have complained about child sex slavery on Batam for over a decade, but it is extremely unlikely that any of the hoard of journalists following President Obama would dig into the story; human rights just isn’t on the APEC Summit agenda, never has been.

But, hold on, there’s actually a trade-related story in Batam and it involves the uber-hot electronics industry. Here’s some U.S. House testimony from the Environmental Investigation Agency back in 2003:

“The Integrated Sourcing Initiative (ISI) of the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement allows another country to benefit from what should be a bilateral agreement. In the case of the US-S FTA, some 100 items of information technology products produced on the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintam [sic] will be allowed to benefit from the provisions of the FTA. Products produced on these Indonesian islands will be considered as originating in Singapore."
“This comes at a time when customs enforcement capacity is overwhelmed by smugglers obfuscating the origin of their products... Singapore distinguishes itself regionally by refusing to release data that may point to the questionable trading practices of Singaporean companies. Singapore recently drew the ire of Indonesia when it refused to fully release trade statistics between the two nations... Analysts in the Indonesian press have said that the Singaporean government is purposely keeping the real trade data a secret to protect “certain vested interest groups” that have continued contraband trade with the country, including Indonesian military figures.”
Many had hoed that the Obama presidency would usher in practices like a human rights think-through, every time the U.S. leader would go on a foreign trip. Realistically, of course, this would not mean a press briefing at the hydrofoil’s quay. But, come on, passing on some info to a couple of journalists looking for a social justice or corruption angle seems like a no-brainer.

Timor rice and maize prices increase significantly

full report here

From World Food Programme

Trends in staple food prices in selected Vulnerable countries

- Issue No 5, October 2009 -

Asia: Rice and wheat prices have either remained stable or declined during the last quarter, except in Timor Leste where the price of rice and maize has increased significantly. Rice and maize make up 60% of caloric intake for households in Timor Leste. In general, prices remain significantly high in comparison to the long term averages.
According to the charts in the report the price of rice has gone up 20% from last quarter and maize, 16%.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Santa Cruz Massacre Anniversary

Today is anniversary of Santa Cruz massacre. Hundreds of peaceful protesters were killed by Indonesian troops. The killings were filmed and alerted the world about East Timor. ETAN was founded soon after.

Associated Press reports on today's commemoration in Dili:

Mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers clutched photos of dead relatives on Thursday, holding flowers and candles as they set out from the Motael Catholic church singing Hymns, saying prayers and weeping.

"My son is still missing," said 71-year-old Maria Lourenca, whose boy Antonio was a junior high school student at the time. "I want justice for his death. He was too young. The Indonesian soldiers who shot him should be punished."
For background information about the massacre go here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

U.S. Congressmembers Call on Indonesian President to Establish Dialogue with West Papua Leaders

The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, along with the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, Rep. Donald Payne sent a joint letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today calling on him to create an internationally-mediated commission to establish a dialogue between the national government of Indonesia and the leaders of West Papua.

Read the media release here

Read the full letter here (PDF)

Jose Belo in Becora Prison

Timorese journalist Jose Belo has posted on Facebook several photos of him in Becora Prison in the mid-1990s. The Tempo Semanal editor writes:
I never felt angry, sad, frustrated during my prison terms because I felt a responsibility to contribute a little bit to our mother Land Timor- Leste.

My most valuable time was in prison under the Indonesian Regime.

Jose Belo (on left) in Becora Prison.

More recently Jose appears in an Al-Jazeera report on reactions to the release of indicted militia leader Martenus Bere:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

From the Past - Mark Thomas Comedy Product on weapons sales to Indonesia

Mark Thomas of the sets up his own phony PR company at an Arms Fair in Greece. There he met with then Indonesia's Maj. Gen. Widjojo and later with Col. Hakim. Widjojo went on to be a member of the bi-lateral Commission for Truth and Friendship.  The segments were originally broadcast January 13 and 20, 1999.

From Sunday Telegraph (London),   January 17, 1999, Sunday, "Indonesians admit torture in TV 'sting'"
THE Indonesian army has admitted for the first time that it tortures people "sometimes", during an investigative "sting" by a television stand-up comedian.

Col Halim Nawi, the Indonesian defence attache to London, made the admission while attempting to hire the comedian-turned-investigative journalist, Mark Thomas, believing him to be a public relations consultant who could "turn around" the Indonesian army's "negative" image....

Another senior officer, Major Gen Widjojo, is filmed at an arms fair telling Mr Thomas that "we did some tortures to protect the security of society. It is not widespread, but we do have to do it sometimes....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blogging the UN Security Council meeting

[Webcast: Archived Video - English: 2 hours and 55 minutes ]

[Webcast: Archived Video - Original Language: 2 hours and 55 minutes ]


10:05 am - Delegates and staff are gathering in the Security Council chamber for a discussion (or more accurately a series of speeches and a few questions) on UNMIT and Timor-Leste. They have before them the Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (for the period from 21 January to 23 September 2009).

The meeting is being broadcast on the UN website.

10:10 Deputy PM Jose Luis Guterres is representing Timor-Leste (TL). Other non-Security Council members, among them Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Portugal and Sweden have asked to speak.

10:11 SRSG Atul Khare will also address the Council.

10:16 Khare is talking about TL's budget, Tour d'Timor bicycle race, "successful" Suco elections (67.75% of registered voters cast ballots). communal peace, water, roads and infrastructure and education were issues.

10:20 Now talking about parliamentary debate on no confidence because of Maternus Bere release - Khare called the debate a positive step. Said legal issues must be dealt with in a competent court. Said Xanana said in debate that AMP does not seek amnesty law. Said Lasama (President of Parliament) said CTF and CAVR "may be discussed by parliament after budget debate" Khare said he has repeatedly stated "UN firm postion that there can be no amnesty or impunity for serious crimes"

*** see recent letters on justice to Security Council from ETAN and other groups and Lao Hamutuk ***

10:25 other issues Khare is discussing - judicial reform, police and security sector reform, phasing out of international security forces and UN Security Council mandate. Upcoming assessment of UN in TL must include consulting with national authorities, civil society and others. Seems to acknowledge that some see UN in TL as increasing irrelevent. Talking about examples of bi-lateral aid from various countries.

10:29 chronicling efforts by UNMIT to reduce its environmental impact ("footprint"), including less paper use. Atul is no saying his farewell and final thank yous as SRSG - his term ends shortly.

10:29 Jose Luis Guterres is now speaking. Speaking about parliamentary debate on Fretilin motion of no confidence. Called it 'lively debate," says decision taken was constitutional and in nation's interest. Says Bere was released to Indonesia because he is an Indonesian citizen, is still in Indonesian Embassy. Says lawyer petitioned court to release Bere on health grounds.

10:40 - praises judicial review commission which recently finished. Now discussing 2006 crisis - all IDP camps closed and IDPs integrated. Social housing, food assistance and other programs for most vulnerable. Praises conduct of Suco elections. Security sector review is priority. Reform is a long-term prospect, may take a generation.

10:46 talking petroleum - fund, national oil company; economic growth - 7 national priority areas for next year; national corruption commission. Now saying thanks to Atul Khare. Say TL needs UN presence until 2012. Japan is next up.

10:53- Japan is pleased with progress in a number of areas and agrees with SG reports cautious optimism. Says police handover should be based on criteria not timeline. Says civilian control of armed forces is fundamental. Says not take "hasty action" in next steps.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Groups write UN Security Council on Justice

ETAN coordinated this letter to the UN Security Council on justice and accountability for the people of Timor-Leste. More than 65 individuals representing nearly 50 organizations signed on short notice. Some excerpts below, full text here. La'o Hamutuk sent their own letter and memo.
As you meet this week to discuss the situation in Timor-Leste, we remind you that United Nations -- and more specifically Security Council -- pledges and obligations concerning human rights and accountability for serious human rights crimes remain unfulfilled.

Once again we urge the Security Council to implement the recommendations of the 2005 Commission of Experts (CoE) report and Chega! (Enough!), the final report of the Timor-Leste's Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CAVR). Both reports urge establishing an ad hoc international tribunal should other efforts at justice fail. If anything, recent events confirm that the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia are unwilling or able to pursue justice. It is time for the Council to act.

Recent events have highlighted the necessity for international involvement in prosecuting serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste between 1975 and 1999, including the August arrest and extra-judicial release (under Indonesian pressure) of the former militia leader Martenus Bere. He had been arrested under an outstanding indictment for serious crimes committed in 1999 after crossing the border into Timor-Leste. His release not only undermined the rule of law in Timor-Leste, it clearly demonstrated that the government of Indonesia continues to undermine
efforts by the judiciary in Timor-Leste to prosecute Indonesian citizens accused of serious crimes committed in 1999 and before. There was an outcry from broad segments of Timor-Leste society against Bere's release, as shown by letters recently delivered to you from East Timorese.


We believe that the United Nations and the Council must live up to its promises to deny impunity to worst perpetrators, if only to reinforce your own credibility. We urge you to act now to implement the UN’s repeated promises by allocating the necessary political, financial and legal resources to end impunity for these crimes against humanity.

We strongly believe that real accountability will reinforce democracy and the rule of law in both Indonesia and Timor-Leste, as well as support genuine reconciliation between the two peoples.


A full decade has passed since Indonesia’s violent exit from Timor-Leste. Indonesia has repeatedly demonstrated that it will act to prevent credible prosecution of Indonesian citizens for crimes connected with Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste. We urge Interpol to issue arrest warrants for all those indicted by the Serious Crimes Unit who remain at large, at a minimum to discourage these suspects from traveling internationally. Other sanctions should be considered as well.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Border incursion

Tempo Semanal reports on a border incursion by Indonesian troops into Oecusse that allegedly took place on October 12.

Four TNI soldiers armed with M16s and 4 unarmed paramilitary personnel, as well as a civilian entered the Cruz area of the southern most Passabe sub-District of Oecusse, Tempo writes. The TNI assaulted Timorese building a police border post and stole some building materials. Mr. Agustino Eta, the Chefe Aldiea Haumnani, told Tempo that
the TNI officers asked him "who instructed to build the border police post, and to whom did you get permission from to build this police post?" The TNI officer told Mr Eta that the area is in dispute between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Mr. Eta responded "Our Timor-Leste leaders told us to build this border police post here". He added "that Timorese do not need to ask permission to build a police post on their own territory". Furthermore, Mr Eta angrily continued that "if we want to build post in Indonesian then we need to ask permission". "For me and my Suco Abani community we don't think this is a disputed area, but it is our land [Timor-Leste]".
Timor-Leste's goverment in Dili only learned of the incursion 3 days after it happened.
Since June 2009 Oekusi's western border near Naktuka has been the scen[e] of border disputes with a number of armed TNI being arrested by Timorese border police for entering Timor-Leste, and quickly being released to return to Indonesia as Timor-Leste is sensitive to percevied threats from the country's neighbour...
Confidential UN map of the disputed area from 2005 , obtained by Tempo Semanal

One has to wonder if this is related to either the ongoing controversy surrounding Timor's extra-judicial release of indicted militia-leader Maternus Bere or the seemingly never-ending border negotiations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, which are regularly announced as nearly finished.

Update (of sorts): Meant to include these links in the original posting. Tempo Semanal had an article about an earlier incursion: TNI Enter Oecusse Enclave - Border Dispute.

Simao de Carvalho the Chief of Naktuka told Tempo Semanal today that on September 26th 2009 the people of Naktuka village of Bene Ufe, Sud District Nitibe district Oekuse found some 9 Indonesian Army soldiers enter[ed] the area and report[ed] to the East Timor Police Border Patrol Unit.

Global Voices highlighted the issue a week or so ago, citing the TimorOhin [Tet.]website and the related TimorNewsNetwork news summary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lao Hamutuk asks on the east-timor list "Why are TL VIPs in China?"

After spending all last Monday in Parliament successfully defending his placing Timor-Leste's "national interest" above legal and Constitutional limitations, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão -- together with the Ministers of Finance, Infrastructure, and Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for Natural Resources, and the head of Timor-Leste's armed forces, headed to China to participate in a Western China trade fair and visit a shipyard (see press release below).

This is a high-level group for a relatively unimportant activity, but there are other reasons to go to China.

Perhaps the visit is related to the new Budget and Financial Management Law which Parliament passed on 24 September. In addition to outlining how the State Budget is to be approved (the General State Budget for 2010 will be sent to Parliament this week), this law allows the Minister of Finance to borrow money from governments like China, without any Parliamentary or public oversight of the terms or repayment of the loan (see NGO commentary at http://www.laohamutuk.org/econ/09FONGTILSubOrsJesFin18SepEn.pdf ).


La'o Hamutuk doesn't yet have confirmed information that the six high Timor-Leste officials went to China to borrow money, but the timing of the visit, together with the demonstrated policies of this government to spend far more than the sustainable level recommended by the Petroleum Fund law, give us reason for concern.

If they have more time, the Ministers can look into the apparently stalled $385 million Heavy Oil Power project, awarded last year to Chinese Nuclear Industry Construction Company #22. Much of this year's $85 million budget line for this project has been reallocated to the Referendum Package of small local infrastructure projects. However, if the flagship power project of the government "year of infrastructure" is ever to be realized, something must be done. (See http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/Power/08PowerPlant.htm .)

La'o Hamutuk welcomes more information about these issues from any source, and encourages people to pay close attention.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sumatra Earthquate and Indonesia's International Debt

Former ETAN field organizer and former Jubilee USA staffer writes from Indonesia on the Sumatra earthquake for Jubilee's Blog the Debt.

Some excerpts:
Indonesian government officials have estimated that at least $600 million will be needed to repair basic infrastructure damaged by the earthquake. Countries around the world have pledged and sent humanitarian assistance, but it is not enough to enable Indonesia to rebuild. Meanwhile, Indonesia continues to send almost $9 billion every year to foreign governments and international financial institutions in payment on its foreign debt....

Jubilee colleagues in Indonesia, including the Koalisi Anti-Utang (KAU/Anti-Debt Coalition) are calling on the Indonesian government to reallocate the money currently slated for debt repayment to finance reconstruction and to prepare for future disasters. They are also urging the Indonesian government not to take on new loans to finance disaster response.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ETAN on Western Sahara

excerpts from Statement on Western Sahara Prepared for Delivery to the United Nations Fourth Committee, United Nations, New York, October 2009
...It should embarrass this institution -- and all of you as representatives of United Nations member states-- that this committee must continue to discuss the situation of Western Sahara. The discussion should have ended long ago, and its people should have exercised their right to self-determination.

The parallels between the situations of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara are clear. In 1975, within weeks, larger neighbors, defying international law and the UN Charter, invaded both countries as they were on the verge of decolonization. For decades, Morocco and Indonesia continued to brutally occupy and illegally exploit the resources of Timor-Leste and Western Sahara in defiance of UN resolutions. The invaders received weapons and diplomatic support from the United States and other powerful countries. Both colonies remained on the General Assembly agenda as non-self-governing territories. Both invasions were clearly condemned by the Security Council. Both peoples suffered horrendous human rights crimes, including torture, disappearances, displacement, and rape. Those who organized and ordered these crimes have yet to be brought to justice. This only encourages others to defy international law....

We urge Morocco and its allies to end their delaying tactics. The United Nations and its member states should fulfill its promise to support decolonization worldwide and more forward with Western Sahara's referendum

There is a truism: "Justice delayed is justice denied." The paraphrase, "Self-determination delayed is self-determination denied," is certainly as true. The people of Timor-Leste had their right self-determination denied for nearly two and one-half decades. The people of Western Sahara have been denied their rights for 34 years and counting. They should not have to wait any longer.

Friday, October 9, 2009

SOA Watch victory

Congratulations to SOA Watch on its partial Congressional victory.

The U.S. Congress has approved legislative language opposing the negative practices and secrecy at the School of the Americas (SOA), now renamed WHINSEC. The Defense Authorization bill includes
language [that] requires that the Secretary of Defense [to] release the names of students and instructors [at the at the SOA/WHINSEC] but with two clarifications: names are only released for FY 2009 and FY 2010, and the Secretary of Defense can waive this provision should it be deemed to be in the national interest.
SOA Watch writes:

While the release of names for FY 2009 and FY 2010 is a welcome first step, the decision by the conference committee to maintain secrecy about who has attended the SOA/ WHINSEC for the past 4 years raises a red flag about what the Pentagon may be hiding. From FY 2005 to FY 2008, hundreds of serious human rights crimes, including the San José de Apartadó massacre among many others, implicated Latin American military officials throughout the region. The gap in knowledge about what role U.S. military training played in the practices of Latin American militaries for 4 years undermines the pursuit of a just foreign policy by denying the public and Congress the very information they need to make important foreign policy decisions.

In addition, the waiver granted to the Pentagon to deny the release of this vital information in the name of national interest ignores the many reasons why it is in the national interest for public disclosure of SOA/ WHINSEC graduates and instructors. What could be more of a national interest than human rights, democracy and transparency?!

More information on SOA Watch can be found here

Thursday, October 8, 2009

West Papua Report - October 2009

full report here

West Papua Report - October 2009

Summary: Famine continues to kill villagers in a broad swath of the Papuan hinterland. The Government response to the crisis has been to deny that famine is occurring and to provide inadequate assistance to address what it contends is only an outbreak of disease. Respected academics have launched a public discussion of the impact of Indonesia's four-plus decades of control in West Papua and whether its policies there constitute genocide. Papuans continue to call for an internationally mediated, senior-level dialogue with Jakarta about West Papua's past and its future. Demonstrators have urged the release of Papuans arrested for peaceful political dissent. Meanwhile, other activists have been arrested or are facing arrest. An international firm, collaborating with an Indonesian company, has announced plans to transform a vast area of forest near Merauke into wood chips. A South Korean daily has published an account of West Papua's annexation by Indonesia which it describes as a "betrayal" of the Papuans by the international community. Additional evidence has surfaced of the human cost of the Indonesian military's continuing "sweep" operations in the Papuan hinterlands. Confusion reigns in Indonesia's response to months of attacks targeting the operations of PT Freeport and its personnel.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Documents on East Timor

These compilations were produced by ETAN from mid-November 1991 to April 30, 1996, include most of the articles and reports published in English about East Timor beginning with the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre. They were published in 43 weekly and monthly volumes of about 100 pages each. They include the substantive material that circulated over ETAN’s reg.easttimor email-list and more. All are in PDF format and now available here.

For current news, analysis and more:

A weekly selection of news items concerning Timor from June 1998 can be found at: http://www.etan.org/et/ . A complete archive from January 2001 to mid-February 2006 is available at http://www.topica.com/lists/east-timor@igc.topica.com/read. A current archive can be found at https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/east-timor.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blair story among 'most censored'

Dennis Blair nomination is among "most censored" stories of 2010. Project Censored which issues an annual list of Top 25 Most Censored Stories. The group cites Allan Nairn's Democracy Now! appearance of January 7, 2009 where he discussed Blair's record as U.S. Pacific Commander in Chief in 1999. ETAN opposes the nomination to be National Director of Intelligence. ETAN began highlighting Blair's record on East Timor in early December 2008. In the end, Blair was confirmed.

Project Censored citation (under the heading "Obama’s Military Appointments Have Corrupt Past") states:
Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama’s pick to head National Intelligence, which oversees all sixteen intelligence agencies, was the Commander of Military Forces in the Pacific under Clinton. As such he played a critical role in the backing of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor after the US-backed dictator Suharto fell in 1998. In 1999, when the Indonesian military terrorized the population to thwart democratic reform, Blair was sent by Clinton and the US State Department to demand that Indonesian General Wiranto stop the massacres. Instead, Admiral Blair falsely informed the general of unwavering US support. Government-sponsored atrocities escalated. Blair then lied to Congress, claiming that only small unit violence was involved, when in fact the top echelons of the Indonesian military were carrying out kidnapping, massacres and torture. Blair essentially sided with General Wiranto in the mass killing of Indonesian [sic] civilians, against US Congress’s orders and knowledge.

ETAN wrote in December 2008:
"President-elect Barack Obama's rumored selection of Admiral Dennis C. Blair for Director of National Intelligence is unacceptable...

"During his years as Pacific Commander, Blair actively worked to reinstate military assistance and deepen ties to Indonesia's military despite its ongoing human rights violations in East Timor and consistent record of impunity...

"His actions demonstrate the failure of engagement to temper the Indonesian military’s behavior and his actions helped to reinforce impunity for senior Indonesian officials that continues to this day...

"He undermined the Clinton administration's belated efforts to support human rights and self-determination in the Indonesian-occupied territory and opposed congressional efforts to limit assistance.”
In early January, we reiterated our concerns - calling Blair a "poor choice."
In April 1999, just days after Indonesian security forces and their militia proxies carried out a brutal churchyard massacre, Adm. Blair delivered a message of 'business-as-usual' to Indonesian General Wiranto, then Commander of the Indonesian armed forces. Following East Timor's pro-independence vote, Blair sought the quickest possible restoration of military assistance, despite Indonesia's highly destructive exit from the territory.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From Human Rights First

Demand End to Intimidation of Indonesian Activist Seeking Justice

Usman Hamid, Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), is being investigated for criminal defamation. The Jakarta police investigation was instigated by the same retired State Intelligence Agency official alleged to have orchestrated the murder of Hamid's late colleague, noted human rights lawyer Munir Said Thalib.

Mr. Hamid has been one of the most persistent voices in the effort to hold accountable all those responsible for the fatal poisoning of Munir in September 2004. Retired Major General Muchdi Purwopranjono was acquitted of murder on December 31, 2008, after a trial marred by allegations of witness intimidation and the presence of intimidating groups in the courtroom. Outside the court, Usman Hamid criticized the verdict and, according to media reports, asserted that Muchdi had murdered Munir.

Criminal defamation charges are used by many governments that wish to silence their political opposition. This violation of Usman Hamid's freedom of expression is a 180-degree departure from the course the Indonesian government should be pursuing: vigorous and just prosecution of all those, no matter how powerful, who had a hand in the murder of Munir.

Take action now to urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to end the investigation of Usman Hamid and to reinvigorate investigation and prosecution of Munir's killers.

More background

Send a letter to President Yudhoyono,

Monday, September 21, 2009

Justice Denied! - Washington, DC event

Justice Denied!
East Timor's Struggle for Justice Ten Years After Voting for Independence

Monday, October 5, 7:00pm

at the offices of Friends of the Earth: 1717 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite #600 (near Dupont Circle), Washington, DC

A Discussion with John M. Miller of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and T. Kumar of Amnesty International

In August the people of East Timor celebrated ten years since voting for independence from Indonesia, following a brutal 24-year military occupation. On this historic anniversary, please join us to discuss the continuing Timorese struggle for justice and against impunity for human rights violations.

While calls continue around the world for justice and accountability for Indonesian officials and others indicted for crimes against humanity committed during the occupation, the President of East Timor recently declared that East Timor would not pursue an international tribunal, despite overwhelming demands for justice by the East Timorese. At the same time, East Timor's Prime Minister secretly released, Martenus Bere, a militia leader indicted for crimes against humanity into the hands of Indonesian authorities.

Indonesia's brutal quarter-century occupation of East Timor left up to 180,000 dead. In 1999, first to intimidate Timorese against voting for independence and then to punish them for it, the Indonesian military organized a scorched-earth campaign that left at least 1,400 dead and hundreds of thousands of civilians forcibly displaced. Not a single Indonesian official has been held accountable for these crimes.

T. Kumar, Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific at Amnesty International, will discuss Amnesty's recent report calling for an international tribunal for East Timor. John M. Miller, National Coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, was in East Timor in August and September and will discuss how justice is viewed by members of Timorese civil society and current organizing for an international tribunal. John participated in the country’s celebration of its historic referendum, including a major conference of Timorese and international solidarity activists committed to organizing for social and economic justice in the millennium’s first nation.

Organized by the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), Washington, DC.
Questions, please write: craig@etan.org; phone: (631) 721 8011. More info: www.etan.org

Sunday, September 13, 2009

West Papua Report September 2009

The September West Papua Report is available here


There were Indonesian security force attacks on Papuan civilians in August with reports of continuing assaults in Puncak Jaya and a new report from Yapen island where security forces terrorized villagers following security force murder of a tribal leader and former political prisoner. Amnesty -recognized prisoner of conscience Filep Karma has been hospitalized after a week's delay in medical attention at the notorious Abepura prison. The Australian Senate has called for a return of the Committee of the Red Cross to West Papua after Indonesian officials closed its offices there in the wake of an ICRC visit to Abepura prison this Spring. Despite the jailing of several Papuans alleged to have been behind July attacks in the area of the Freeport mining concession, attacks continued in August. Amnesty has issued a public statement decrying the lack of progress in the investigation of the murder of Papuan activist Opinus Tabuni. Officials of the Home Affairs Ministry have met with Papuans in a rare dialogue. The discussion falls far short of the senior-level, ly mediated dialogue that Papuans have been seeking for several years. More than a dozen organizations meeting in Dili have urged an end to impunity for Indonesian security forces operating in West Papua and for a positive Jakarta response to Papuan calls for dialogue. Senior Papuans, in a late August conference, have emphasized the failure of "special autonomy" to address Papuan needs. Conservation groups have joined together to create a protected region in the waters off West Papua's "bird's head" region.

Call for Justice - Joint Statement for Crimes Humanity in Timor-Leste

Update: Lao Hamutuk has sponsored a discussion of the Bere case in Dili and issued its own analysis here.


Joint Statement on the Release of Martenus Bere – Indicted for Crimes Against Humanity in Timor-Leste

For the past ten years the disinterest of the international community and active efforts by Indonesia have blocked efforts to end impunity for serious crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste. Ignoring the pleas of the East Timorese people, the Timor-Leste leadership continues to dismiss their calls for justice and an end to impunity.

We were deeply distressed by the 30 August speech of Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta and the actions of the governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste which led to the release of indicted militia leader Martenus Bere. His extra-judicial release violated international law and treaties and undermined the rule of law and the Constitution of Timor-Leste.

We firmly disagree with President Ramos-Horta that the pursuit of justice is “simplistic.”

Read rest here in English and Bahasa Indonesia

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who wants justice in Timor-Leste

Please note Timorese held a demonstration on Sunday at the Indonesian Embassy in Dili to object to the release of notorious militia leader Maternus Bere. Background and photos here.

via east-timor listserv

Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2009 17:56:46 +0900
To: east-timor@lists.riseup.net

From: cscheiner@igc.org
Subject: Timorese people's views on justice

In his speech to the nation last Sunday, President of the Republic Jose Ramos-Horta said

"As the Nation knows, my position is clear and firm on this issue: as an East Timorese and Head of State, as someone who lost brothers and a sister, as someone who almost lost his life, as someone who have crisscrossed this beautiful island of ours in the past 10 years, and know what the vast majority of the people feel and demand today, I am saying let’s put the past behind. There will be no International Tribunal."

Although I am not Timorese, I have lived here for most of the last ten years, and listened to many Timorese people. During the last three days, I attended the National Congress of Victims Families, and heard people from every district crying out for justice and expressing their sadness and anger that their leaders have conceded the rule of law in the interests of diplomacy. My perception of Timorese views is different than that of the President, but of course most Timorese people don't enjoy the malae confidence and privilege that enables me to publicly disagree with the President.

Fortunately, there is empirical data which shows what Timorese people think about justice and impunity for serious crimes.

In 2008, The Asia Foundation conducted 1,120 interviews across Timor-Leste. Their recently published report, "Law and Justice in Timor-Leste: A Survey of Citizen Awareness and Attitudes Regarding Law and Justice 2008" is available from http://www.asiafoundation.org/publications/index.php?q=&searchType=country&country=19 in both English and Tetum. Here's an excerpt, from pages 41-42, about justice and impunity (emphasis added):

Both the 2004 and 2008 surveys sought to better understand Timorese views on punishment and impunity for serious crimes, specifically cases in which an individual has committed murder. While the questions querying such were somewhat different between the two surveys, the overall results are largely the same: Timorese overwhelmingly believe that individuals who have committed murder should be punished without exception. In 2008, 90 percent of Timorese say that there are no instances in which an individual who has committed murder should be able to avoid punishment or paying compensation to the victims, while in 2004 91 percent said they believe a person who has committed murder should go to jail rather than providing compensation or doing both.
Question: "Suppose some person commits murder. Do you think that there are times when this person should be able to 'avoid punishment' or be free from 'compensating' the victim?"

Answer: No 90%, Yes, 'avoid punishment' 6%, Don't know/no response, 4%.

Charles Scheiner
La'o Hamutuk (The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis)
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste (East Timor)
Telephone: +670-3325013 or +670-734-0965 mobile
email: cscheiner@igc.org website: http://www.laohamutuk.org

Saturday, August 29, 2009

IPS: East Timor: Solidarity Activists Press for Justice

Inter Press Service

August 28, 2009

East Timor: Solidarity Activists Press for Justice

by Matt Crook

DILI (IPS) - After three years behind bars as a political prisoner in
Indonesia, British human rights campaigner Carmel Budiardjo saw
firsthand the viciousness of former President Suharto's military
dictatorship. Expelled from the country in 1971, Budiardjo knew there
would be suffering when the Indonesian military invaded East Timor in 1975.

In this capital for an international solidarity conference being held
Aug. 27-29, Budiardjo told IPS that justice must be served for crimes
committed during the Indonesian military?s savage 24-year occupation
that cost up to 200,000 East Timorese lives.

"Justice is really a question of accountability," said Budiardjo, who
founded TAPOL (which means political prisoner in Indonesian), or the
Indonesian Human Rights Campaign, in 1973 with a group of activists
in London to campaign for the release of political prisoners in Indonesia.

"When my organization began to campaign very hard about East Timor,
this became (our focus) along with the political prisoners, to alert
people about the situation," she added.

Budiardjo's late husband, an Indonesian, spent 12 years in prison
without trial. At 84, Budiardjo's hearing may have diminished over
time, but she is still as sharp as a tack.

"I was very acutely aware of the capacity of the military for
brutality," she said.

On Aug. 30, 1999, the people of East Timor voted almost 80 percent in
favour of independence, but rather than leaving quietly, the
Indonesian military left its mark by destroying much of the nation?s
infrastructure and killing about 1,400 people.

After a transitional period overseen by the United Nations (UN), East
Timor became independent on May 20, 2002.

Last year, East Timor relied on Indonesia for 42 percent of all its
imports. The close ties between the two nations have been getting in
the way of justice.

"If you want to make people accountable, they will certainly be
Indonesians, the Indonesian military, (but) there are some people in
the East Timorese government who don?t want to upset the
Indonesians," she said. "The grassroots people don?t agree with that."

"One of the important things is to make sure the Indonesian people
know what happened in East Timor. We from outside can make complaints
about the Indonesian government, but it?s much more important if the
Indonesian people, civil society in Indonesia, understand what
happened," she added.

American John M Miller, national coordinator of the East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network, a non-profit organisation promoting human
rights, also made the trip to Dili to join solidarity activists from
17 countries.

"In many ways, the campaign for justice has proven more difficult
than the campaign for self-determination and independence," he said.
"To succeed in that, we again need to have that partnership between
the people of East Timor and the international solidarity movement."

There has been little in the way of justice for the people of East
Timor. Most of those responsible for human rights violations during
the Indonesian military?s occupation have got off scot-free, despite
the UN?s Serious Crimes Unit indicting 391 people.

The unit investigated the crimes committed in the wake of violence
that marred East Timor?s 1999 independence vote.

Eighty-seven of those people were brought to trial in East Timor,
resulting in 84 convictions, although only one remains in prison
after President Jose Ramos-Horta used his presidential power to cut
many of the sentences and grant clemency.

National Union Party leader Fernanda Borges, whose push for an
international tribunal is opposed by Ramos-Horta, thinks enough is enough.

"These are international crimes that we should prosecute due to our
international obligations and our need to end impunity in this
country," she said in a recent speech.

Amnesty International has weighed in on the debate with a report
titled, "We Cry for Justice: Impunity Persists 10 Years on in
Timor-Leste," calling for the UN to set up an international tribunal.

According to the report, released Thursday, people in East Timor told
the human rights group that the government's favouring of
reconciliation over justice was "very difficult to comprehend and
demoralizing for victims".

The Indonesian government immediately hit back, saying it will not
prosecute alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses in East Timor,
the Jakarta Post English daily reported.

On Apr. 17, victims and families gathered at late independence leader
Manuel Carrascalao?s house, where 10 years earlier, an Indonesian
militia group murdered 12 people. Some 150 individuals had sought
refuge at the house after fleeing violence in East Timor's districts.

This year, those victims and families called for an international
tribunal, as well as for perpetrators of crimes against humanity to
be held accountable for what they did.

These concerns and more are the hot topics at this week?s solidarity

East Timorese solidarity activist Lita Sarmento said, "We see that it
is relevant to conduct this conference because 10 years after the
referendum, we recognize that there are issues we need to take
forward after independence as part of the unfinished struggle of the
solidarity movement of the past."

Speaking on the opening panel of the solidarity conference, Irishman
Tom Hyland, an East Timor activist, closed his speech by saying, "We
have a saying in Ireland: justice delayed is justice denied."