As UNSG visits Timor-Leste, rights groups urge his leadership for justice and accountability

13 Dec 2007
A Worldwide coalition of organisations

A worldwide coalition of human rights and other organizations has written an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, calling on him to work to achieve substantive justice for the people of Timor-Leste.

The letter reminds the Secretary-General that the East Timorese people "suffered countless war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Indonesian invasion and 24-year occupation of their homeland." The letter rejects Indonesian government attempts to escape accountability.

The letter is signed by representatives of more than 70 organizations in 14 countries, who call on the Secretary-General to ensure that justice prevails over impunity, including through implementation of the relevant recommendations of East Timor's Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CAVR).

The letter applauds the Secretary-General's refusal to grant legitimacy to the bilateral Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF). According to the letter, the CTF and Indonesia's Ad Hoc Human Rights Court "have proven manifestly unsuitable in both design and implementation to the task of delivering justice in accordance with international law." Instead, he should work to create an international tribunal to prosecute those most responsible for the many crimes committed during the 24-year occupation, not just in 1999.

"The Secretary-General should use his visit to launch an effort to achieve genuine justice and accountability for crimes committed in Timor during the Indonesian invasion and occupation,” said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network /U.S., an organizer of the letter. “The Secretary-General should actively work with member states to establish an international tribunal."

The letter observes that most people in Timor-Leste, particularly in the church and civil society, strongly support measures for substantive justice, and insists that the international community share the responsibility to address crimes which violated international criminal law and the UN charter and resolutions.

The letter is timed to coincide with Ban Ki-Moon's visit this week to Timor-Leste, the first time he has visited the country as Secretary-General.

"The aftermath of the recent Security Council delegation to Timor-Leste indicates that the international community may suffering from a form of amnesia when it comes to the many crimes against humanity committed during 24-years of brutal Indonesian occupation in Timor-Leste," said Miller. "Indonesia's membership in both the Security Council and Human Rights Council should stimulate all UN members' resolve to ensure that those responsible do not to unpunished and to ensure that the new, democratic government in Jakarta upholds its international human rights obligations," he added.

Signers include human rights groups from Indonesia, Timor-Leste, elsewhere in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Europe. The full text of the letter with a complete list of signers can be found at


John M. Miller (ETAN), New York +1/917-690-4391 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE +1/917-690-4391 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

Yasinta Lujina (La'o Hamutuk), Dili +670/723-4339 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE +670/723-4339 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

Rafendi Djamin, Coordinator, (Human Rights Working Group), Jakarta, +62/81311442159 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE +62/81311442159 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

Dr Clinton Fernandes, (Australian Coalition for Transitional Justice in East Timor), Canberra , +61/2 6268 8847 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE +61/2 6268 8847 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;

Paul Barber (TAPOL), Britain, +44/1420 80153 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE +44/1420 80153 end_of_the_skype_highlighting; +44/774 730 1739 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting FREE +44/774 730 1739 end_of_the_skype_highlighting;