9 OCTOBER 2007
THIS MONTH'S FEATURES
ALL ABOUT EBA
LITERATURE AND LITERACY
FACES OF CHANGE AND CHANGELESS PLACES
i R E P O R T — T H E P R I C E O F P E A C E
WAITING FOR WIRANTO
Or perhaps they just knew what he would be saying, since this was the same Wiranto who had tried to place the blame for the 1999 violence on the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET). Earlier media reports had quoted him as saying that UNAMET’s failure to remain neutral during that historical moment sparked anger among East Timorese who, he said, felt they were being treated “unfairly.”
Then again, he was merely echoing the view of several Indonesian officials who have contended that UN personnel may have instigated electoral fraud to help East Timor’s pro-independence movement. According to the popular Indonesian daily Kompas, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda had said the United Nations would benefit from its officials’ non-appearance before the CTF because “they would not want to have what is being called fraud by UNAMET to be uncovered.”
In any case, Wiranto testified that the 1999 violence in East Timor was nothing more than "ordinary crimes committed by both sides, not extraordinary crimes instigated by the military." Somehow, too, he managed to put some blame to Portugal, which he said "irresponsibly left East Timor, leaving it in a civil war."
He repeatedly insisted that "there were no government policies to attack civilians" and that "there were no systematic plans, no genocide, no crimes against humanity." And in between the scripted rhetoric in Bahasa Indonesia, he previewed a lengthy video presentation that was supposed to showcase his role as a broker of peace. He even launched on a spiel about giving peace a chance.
The four-star general stressed that the absence of gross human rights abuses in East Timor was confirmed by an ad-hoc court set up by the Indonesian government to try those who were allegedly involved in the 1999 violence. He was, however, referring to the same court that a UN commission had questioned two years earlier because of its supposedly flawed methods.
DAMNING CONCLUSIONS IN UN REPORTS
Collectively known as serious-crimes processes, the SCU and Special Panels had been established by the UN Security Council in 2000. Investigations, prosecutions, and trials for crimes against humanity in East Timor fell under the SCU’s jurisdiction. Eventually, it indicted 392 people, including General Wiranto.
Overall, 85 people were convicted and two were acquitted. But more than 70 percent of those indicted remain free to this day, a development that can only be expected since most of the indictments were not followed through; Indonesia was also adamant about not recognizing the authority of the SCU, which was dissolved in June 2005.
And so some of those implicated by the SCU in the 1999 East Timor tragedy would even conspicuously continue holding high positions in the Indonesian government. For example, by the time he was brought to trial in 2002, Major General Adam Damiri, the Indonesian regional military commander in charge of East Timor in 1999, had assumed the post of Assistant for Operations to the Armed Forces Chief of General Staff.
As early as December 1999, a report filed by special rapporteurs of the UN Commission on Human Rights said there were clear indications that "the crimes committed in (East Timor) would not have been possible without planning and action at the highest levels of the Indonesian government and military." A month later, the UN International Commission of Inquiry concluded that "that there were patterns of gross violations of human rights and breaches of humanitarian law, which varied over time and took the form of systematic and widespread intimidation, humiliation and terror, destruction of property, violence against women and displacement of people."
It then recommended that United Nations "establish an international human rights tribunal consisting of judges appointed by the UN, preferably with participation of members from East Timor and Indonesia."
Instead, Indonesia and East Timor went on to form the Commission on Truth and Friendship — amid widespread opposition from Timor-Leste's Roman Catholic bishops, various international civil society groups, and even organizations based in the two countries.
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