American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Testimony for the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva
Prepared by the International Federation for East Timor (IFET) UN Representative Charles Scheiner. IFET was formed eight years ago, and now includes more than 30 NGOs supporting self-determination and human rights for East Timor, based in more than twenty countries. Schneiner is also National Coordinator, East Timor Action Network/US, PO Box 1182, White Plains, New York 10602; 914-428-7299; firstname.lastname@example.org ETAN's web site: etan.org; or write email@example.com
Based on our support for human rights and self-determination for East Timor, and on the information we gathered while in East Timor and after being forced out, the International Federation for East Timor makes the following recommendations to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and to the international community:
1. The United Nations must immediately assume responsibility for security and government in all of East Timor, which must remain undivided. All Indonesian troops and police should be withdrawn without delay, and InterFET should facilitate an expeditious turnover of local administration to a UNAMET interim government, with transition to East Timorese government as quickly as possible. The Indonesian government has never had jurisdiction in East Timor under international law, and the 78.5% vote for independence, coupled with their brutal trampling of East Timorese human rights, has voided any de facto claim they have to a role there.
2. The hundreds of thousands of East Timorese people who have been forcibly evacuated to West Timor, Alor, Kalimantan, Flores, Bali, Sulawesi and other parts of Indonesia must be given immediate international humanitarian and human rights assistance. Appropriate United Nations agencies should assume responsibility for their care and return to East Timor, and journalists, aid agencies and others must have unrestricted access. The Government of Indonesia has no claim to sovereignty over people they have kidnapped and transported from their homeland. Refugee camps must be under international supervision, and all Indonesian militia, military and police presence in these camps must end. The displaced people should be given the opportunity to return home expeditiously; any temporary or permanent housing for them should be in East Timor. Recent reports indicate that the military and militia continue to abduct East Timorese people from East and West Timor even after the arrival of the InterFET force; this should be investigated and such behavior immediately stopped.
3. The full force of United Nations investigatory and prosecutory powers should be brought to bear against the perpetrators of crimes against the people of East Timor. Those at the highest levels in the Indonesian military structure, as well as others who abetted their crimes, must not escape with impunity. United Nations investigators should be granted the resources, expertise, and access needed to hold all responsible fully accountable, and to investigate crimes as far up the chain of command as necessary.
4. Members of the international community, especially those governments on the Security Council, should be held responsible for taking so long to act in the face of overwhelming evidence that the Indonesian military planned to perpetrate massive atrocities against the East Timorese people if they voted for independence. In addition to developing accountability for complicity by inaction, these investigations must ensure that such crimes do not happen again anywhere in the world. If the United Nations is unable to investigate its own membership and structures, perhaps an independent body, with authority to recommend national and international changes in policy and structure, could be formed. One outcome of such an investigation could be the assessment of reparations to be paid to the people of East Timor not only by the government of Indonesia, but by all nations who stood by as the wheels of destruction continued to turn.