Tuesday, November 12, 2013

'Don't abandon your East Timor responsibility,' ANTI tells world

A journalist in a Timor-Leste Press Club t-shirt pays his respects with flowers at the Santa
Cruz tomb of Sebastiao Gomes whose killing by Indonesian soldiers
triggered the 1991 mourner protest and massacre. Photo: David Robie
A COALITION of 21 peace, social justice and human rights advocacy NGOs has warned the international community not to 'abandon their responsibility" to prosecute serious crimes by the Indonesian military during the 24-year illegal occupation of Timor-Leste.

East Timor declared independence in 1975 but Indonesia invaded in December that year and brutally occupied the country for the next quarter of a century.

In a statement issued to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Santa Cruz cemetery massacre of at least 270 mourners by Indonesian soldiers in the capital of Dili on 12 November 1991, the Timor-Leste International Tribunal Alliance (ANTI) declared that "truth and justice" were the foundations for a developing democracy in the Asia-Pacific state.

Condemning the "depravity" of the illegal occupation of Timor-Leste by Indonesian forces, ANTI said the "impacts of impunity continue to haunt the Indonesian and Timorese people".

ANTI included demands for:

  • International community help to create a "credible justice mechanism".
  • Australia, France, United Kingdom and the United States - which supported the military regime of Suharto and its occupation of Timor-Leste from 1975 to 1999 - to give priority to the victims and their families.

  • United Nations member states to refuse to issue visas to current and former Indonesian military officials who have been accused in the Chega report over alleged human rights atrocities.
  • Timor-Leste to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in a bid to locate many missing civilians.
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao; Opposition Fretilin leader Dr Mari Alkatiri; Gregorio Saldanha, coordinator of the 12 November Committee for the victims of the Santa Cruz massacre; and many young Timorese leaders spoke or read poetry of peace at the cemetery ceremony.

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