[ETAN-key] Victims of ETimor atrocities still await justice
joyonews2 at gmail.com
Sun Aug 23 22:08:33 EDT 2009
Victims of ETimor atrocities still await justice
August 23 (AFP) -- Ten years after East Timor's historic
independence referendum, victims are still waiting for justice
for crimes and rights abuses committed during Indonesia's brutal
Up to 200,000 people in the tiny half-island were killed either
directly by Indonesian troops or as a result of the occupation,
and the Indonesian military employed a scorched earth policy
which devastated the country in the wake of the vote.
On August 30, 1999, almost 80 percent of East Timor's population
went to the polls to vote for independence. That year, more than
250,000 East Timorese fled East Timor or were expelled by
troops, police and paramilitary militia.
Julio Barreto, 36, was one of those who fled across the border
to escape the marauding militias, but it wasn't the first time
he had found himself running for his life from Indonesian
He was also at Dili's Santa Cruz Cemetery on November 12, 1991,
when Indonesian troops opened fire on a peaceful protest during
a memorial service for pro-independence activist Sebastiao
Gomes, killing more than 270 people.
"We had climbed up on the wall of the cemetery. When the troops
started to shoot at us, I jumped off the wall. My hands were
bleeding because so many people were jumping, trying to escape,"
"I saw one guy who had been working as a journalist get shot. As
soon as I saw him getting shot, I ran."
Now a free man in his own country, Barreto wants closure.
"We haven't heard the names of those who were shooting at us,
but I want justice," he said.
No senior officials were charged with the massacre at Santa Cruz
and only one of 18 junior government officials indicted received
a jail term.
The UN-established Serious Crimes Unit has indicted 391 people
for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in East
Timor, resulting in 84 convictions and three acquittals.
Most of those yet to be arrested are given sanctuary by
Indonesia, including former military chief Wiranto, who ran for
the vice-presidency in July elections, and former militia leader
Guterres's men ruled the Dili streets in the days following the
independence vote, killing civilians and torching buildings.
In 2006, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for human rights
violations. The conviction was overturned by the Indonesian
Supreme Court in April last year and he was released to pursue a
political career in West Timor.
A reconciliation commission established jointly by East Timor
and Indonesia found last year that while gross human rights were
committed by Indonesian forces, there should be no more trials
and no further arrests.
East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace laureate
who devoted his life to ending the Indonesian occuption, has
been outspoken in his support of amnesty as a prerequisite for
normalising ties with Indonesia.
In a recent interview, he told Foreign Policy magazine: "Let
bygones be bygones. Let us not forget the victims and heroes,
but let us forgive those who did harm."
Those who remain unpunished shouldn't sleep easy just yet though.
Militia leader Martinus Bere was apprehended in East Timor on
August 8, more than five years after he was indicted for his
role in the Suai church massacre of September 6, 1999, when up
to 200 people were killed.
There could be more arrests like this in the future, says Louis
Gentile, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human
"There is an increasing recognition (around the world) of the
principle of universal jurisdiction, which means that someone
who has committed crimes of that gravity could be prosecuted in
any jurisdiction that recognises this principle," he said.
Ramos-Horta's forgive-and-forget pragmatism also has its
detractors in parliament.
National Unity Party leader Fernanda Borges is one of the main
advocates of the establishment of an international tribunal to
try those indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"Victims see that perpetrators have not been held responsible
for their crimes and this makes them lose confidence in the
state and its legal system," she said in a recent speech.
Terjemahan (atas jasa "Kataku"):
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