International Federation for East Timor Urges Nations’ President to Fully Support Accountability for Past Abuses

Media Release, 01 April, 2003

For Immediate Release Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668 (USA) Paul Barber, +44-1420-80153 (Britain) Charles Scheiner, +670-723-4335 (East Timor)


Protest at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC. Photo: Kurt Biddle

April 1, 2003 - The International Federation for East Timor (IFET) today urged the new nation’s President to fully support meaningful justice for crimes against humanity and other crimes committed in the territory. In a letter to President Xanana Gusmao, IFET expressed dismay at his reaction to February’s indictment by the joint UN-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit of high-ranking Indonesian military officers for crimes against humanity committed before and after East Timor’s 1999 referendum. While praising Gusmao’s promotion of reconciliation and good relations with Indonesia, the letter argued that they are not “incompatible with the pursuit of justice… [and] that they should [not] be given priority over justice.” The Indonesian people “will not be well served by the continued protection of [military] impunity,” the letter said. IFET also wrote that East Timor’s pursuit of “national reconciliation does not require impunity for those in Indonesia who directed the violence.” IFET expressed dismay at UN efforts to distance itself from the SCU indictments and said it would press the UN to support the process now and after the current UN Mission in East Timor (UNMISET) ends in May 2004 so that all outstanding cases can be completed. It further pledged to continue to build international support for the serious crimes process. “We will continue to urge [the UN] to find other ways of bringing the perpetrators to justice, including the establishment of an international criminal tribunal and prosecutions in third countries under universal jurisdiction provisions,” IFET said. IFET called trials in Jakarta’s ad hoc human rights “a manifest travesty of justice” and argued that “the international community and the Government of Timor-Leste must share the responsibility of providing justice for East Timor.” It called, “the issuing of the indictments by the SCU… a major step towards holding the highest-ranking perpetrators to account and relieving the suffering of the many thousands of Timorese victims and their families.” The full text of IFET’s letter is available here IFET was formed in 1991 to support the self-determination process for East Timor at the United Nations. It has 35 member groups from 20 countries. Watch Indonesia! is a member of IFET.

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