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Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) tarnishing the spirit of “friendship” of both nations

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After a long delay and priority shift in Indonesia and Timor Leste, both governments have agreed to find a niche in addressing the long-awaited process of finding truth and building friendship through its commission – Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF). Indonesia, the vital player in the international circuit has failed to meet demands for charging the perpetrators of human rights violations in 1999 in Timor Leste. Timor Leste, a restive nation still battling its own homegrown problems, is weak in summoning the due process of law. This is the first of a series of hearings that is scheduled until August. With no power to prosecute the perpetrators, the future of the friendship between both nations remains bleak.We, Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), KontraS, ELSAM, IMPARSIAL, PBHI, Yayasan HAK and FORUM-ASIA have closely viewed the 19-21 February 2007 hearing process of the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) as an instrument of impunity on cases of human rights violations that occurred in Timor Leste in 1999. In this context, we lay down essential reasons why the CTF process won’t benefit the people of Indonesia and Timor Leste in applying its transitional justice.

Firstly, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)1 that became the baseline of the CTF ignores the international principle of human rights, for instance, on offering amnesty with no due process of law and vague responsibility of the CTF in the future. This jeopardises both countries’ commitment at the international level, such as the conflict resolution taken up by Indonesia on rendering democratisation in Burma. It is also flawed, with the content in the MoU contradicting the pledges and commitments by Indonesia as a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

Secondly, the CTF is not serious in exposing the bitter truth of human rights violations by not prioritising the perpetrators to attend the hearing process, although they have been identified by UN-sanctioned Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation – CAVR2 and Commission of Inquiry on East Timor – CIET3. Instead, in the hearing, the commission categorized individuals into two groups.

Group 1: Mr Ali Alatas (Former Foreign Minister of Indonesia) Mr F.X Lopes da Cruz, Mr Mariano Sabino (both from Timorese National Resistance Council – CNRT), Dr Sofian Effendi (Reactor of FORUM) and Mr Virgilio Guterres (Resistencia Nacional Dos Estudantes De Timor Leste – RENETIL)

Group 2: Mr Mateus Carvalho (Leader of pro-Indonesia militia, AITARAK), Mr Emilio Barreto, Mr Manuel Ximenes and Mr Florindo de Jesus Brites (all survivors of massacres).

Thirdly, until today, there has been no comprehensive explanation of “friendship” in the framework of transitional justice. In the glossary4 published by the commission, the definition of friendship is: “Good relation between two nations and the people is based on reconciliation and future-oriented as well as to promote contacts between people and people, innovative and cooperation to uphold peace and stability”.

Supposedly, the product of friendship based on the CTF’s work should be excelled upon transitional justice. For example, cooperation and responsibility for victims’ rehabilitation, mutual solutions through information exchange, witnesses etc. to ensure all identified perpetrators of human rights violation are not spared from due process of law. The commission mandate as stipulated in the MoU is neither political nor cultural but based upon facts.

Therefore, We, Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), KontraS, ELSAM, IMPARSIAL, PBHI, Yayasan HAK and FORUM-ASIA express our concern. We:

  1. Demand both governments to reformulate the MoU based on the international principle of human rights as the guide, and taking into account people’s aspiration; justice, truth and reparation.
  2. Demand the presidents of both nations to grant subpoena powers to the Commission of Truth and Friendship to order all identified perpetrators of human rights violations to attend the commission processes without excuses that linger on in the judiciary process.
  3. Demand the Commission of Truth and Friendship to prioritise all identified perpetrators of past human rights violation to participate and cooperate at the hearing processes.
  4. Demand Indonesia and Timor Leste, as well as the Commission of Truth and Friendship to not make any contradicting conclusions upon the hearing process, with the official information provided by both nations through KOMNAS HAM and the Commission of Inquiry in East Timor (CIET).

Jakarta, Bangkok and Dili
23 February 2007


2 Comissão de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliação de Timor Leste (CAVR) link.
3 International Commission of Inquiry on Timor Leste (CIET) webpage.
4 Glossary of Terms No. 20, Persahabatan.

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