Perpetrators of killings and other human rights abuses during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste must not be allowed to go unpunished, Amnesty International said as the UN Security Council was due to meet in New York to finalize withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission.
Indonesian security forces and their auxiliaries committed serious human rights violations during the occupation (1975-1999) and in the context of the 1999 Timorese independence referendum – including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, rape and other crimes of sexual violence and torture.
Despite the fact many of these acts amount to crimes against humanity, to date no one is imprisoned for these acts, either in Indonesia or in Timor-Leste.
“The fact that the UN is leaving Timor-Leste does not let the international community off the hook. Delivering justice for victims of these horrendous crimes must remain a priority,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.
The UN Security Council is convening on 12 November to finalize plans for the December 2012 withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission UNMIT (United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor), which was established in August 2006.
Paradoxically 12 November is also the anniversary of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre, when Indonesian troops opened fire on some 3,000 peaceful protesters marching to a cemetery in Dili, killing scores of Timorese.
“The Santa Cruz massacre was a watershed moment in the Timorese struggle for independence that highlighted the brutality of the Indonesian forces. The blatant lack of accountability for these killings is shocking,” said Arradon.
Over 300 people indicted for crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations continue to evade justice in Indonesia. The Indonesian authorities have refused to co-operate with the UN-sponsored justice system in Timor-Leste and to extradite their nationals to stand trial in Timor-Leste.
In Indonesia, the 18 defendants tried for crimes committed in Timor-Leste during the 1999 referendum by the ad hoc Human Rights Court in Jakarta were later acquitted by the same following an appeal.
“Today, the UN must clearly state that there will be no impunity for crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations committed during the Indonesian occupation and in the context of the Timorese independence referendum in 1999.” Arradon added.
“It must also ensure that justice for serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste remains on the UN Security Council agenda beyond the planned withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission.”
For more information, see a joint statement by Amnesty International and ANTI (The Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal) on the need to tackle impunity in Timor-Leste: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA57/007/2012/en/9ffc3a49-f15d-4ab6-aa9e-5f64a90b58a4/asa570072012en.html