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The Commission of Truth and Friendship Instrumenting Impunity

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The fifth public hearing of the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) in Dili from 24 to 27 September is predicted to be another watered-down ‘truth’ with farcical agenda of friendship. FORUM-ASIA and civil society organizations in Indonesia reiterate their demand to the Commission not to vouch amnesty for the perpetrators of gross human rights violations in Timor Leste.
(Jakarta & Bangkok), The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) Timor Leste and Indonesia will be organising the fifth in it series of public hearing in Dili from 24 to 27 September 2007. Civil society organizations in Indonesia and across Asia together condemn the impunity being instrumented by the Commission. We urge the Commission to practice a more genuine from of justice and to stop being partial to perpetrators of gross human rights violations.

Among those expected to testify before the Commission during this fifth hearing are: Tomas Goncalves (former chief of Ermera district and member of KOPASSUS – Elite Forces), Rui Lopes (former chief of Covalima district and member of KOPASSUS), Francisco de Carvalho Lopes (pro-Indonesia militia leader), Jhony Marques (Alfa Team Commander and also a perpetrator of massacre in Los Palos), Jhony Franca (pro-Indonesia militia commander in Loloto’e), Sancho Ramos (victim of violence by the Battalion 745), Marcus Baquin (victim of violence in Passabe) and another victim from the Loloto’e attack. They will be giving their testimonies on 25 to 27 September 2007.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, Taur Matan Ruak (Timor Leste Army Chief) and Teotonio de Assis (former Dili district finance officer) will be giving their testimonies behind closed door on 24 September 2007.

In its public hearing series, the Commission has failed in its endeavour to credibly exposes gross human rights violations in Timor Leste in 1999; they have failed to accommodate victims’ quest for justice, have avoided cross-examining the alleged perpetrators’ dismissal of accountability and accused UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) as the antagonist of the bloodshed in Timor Leste at the time. The Commission has also failed to call upon ABRI (Indonesian Security Forces) to be accountable for the pillage of uncounted atrocities before and after the referendum in August 1999.

The conditions outlined have pushed civil society organisations from both countries to organise alternative public hearings in Dili from 28 – 29 September 2007 in order to allow the victims and their families to give testimonies on the atrocities after the results of the referendum.

The Commission’s lack of credibility has been predicted with the reluctance to revise the terms of reference – where amnesty is granted to the perpetrators when they admitted to and apologise about their wrong doings. The grievances of victims’ families and civil society organisations in Timor Leste and Indonesia, on the public hearing shows that the Commission has the tendency to protect the perpetrators and water-down ‘truths’ about the gross human rights violations. The United Nations has explicitly stressed that it will not support the Commission’ processes since it was not established according to international human rights standards.

The statement by the United Nations on 26 July 2007 was timely for publicly announcing its refusal to cooperate with the Commission of Truth and Friendship in any processes until the term of reference is revised. The United Nations also asserted that it “cannot endorse or condone amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or gross violations of human rights, nor should it do anything that might foster them.” Former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan expressed on his report ‘Justice and Reconciliation for Timor Leste’ (Doc UN No. S/2006/580) that war crimes or gross human rights violations will never be granted amnesty. Perpetrators must be dealt with justly in an independent and fair proceeding. However, the term of reference for the Commission continue to propose amnesty to the perpetrators as a sign of good will.

Therefore, we, the non-governmental organisations in Indonesia and the region reiterate that the Indonesia and Timor Leste governments have to end this farce and work for genuine justice and accountability to address the atrocities committed in Timor Leste during the Indonesian invasion and occupation. The Commission should prioritise the livelihoods of the victims and not protecting the perpetrators who are serving the interests of both countries’ elites. The Commission’s lack of authority to prosecute perpetrators is a sign of a deteriorating judicial process in Indonesia.

For more information please contact:

Choirul Anam, HRWG email: [email protected]
Agung Yudhawiranata, ELSAM email: [email protected]
Galuh Wandita, ICTJ-Indonesia email: [email protected]
Tadzrul Tahir Hamzah, FORUM-ASIA email: [email protected]

The joint press release is the effort of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Commission for the ”Disappeared” and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS), Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ – Indonesia), People’s Empowerment Consortium (PEC), Suara Hak Asasi Manusia di Indonesia (SHMI) and The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL).