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MARCH 4, 2003
10:10 AM
CONTACT:  The East Timor Action Network U.S.
John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668, +1-917-690-4391
UN Must Back Prosecution of Indonesian Officers;
International Action Needed After Indonesia Snubs Extradition of Suspects to East Timor
WASHINGTON - March 4 - The East Timor Action Network U.S. (ETAN) today urged the United Nations to support the prosecution of top Indonesian officials accused of committing crimes against humanity in East Timor.

Last week, in a move ETAN called "vitally important for East Timor's future stability," prosecutors in East Timor filed indictments against high-ranking Indonesian officers.

After the Indonesian government quickly dismissed the indictments, ETAN called for international pressure to ensure that those responsible for decades of torture, rape, forced sterilization, deliberate starvation and mass murder face justice.

"We urge the UN as well as the Bush administration to press Indonesia to extradite officials charged by prosecutors in East Timor with crimes against humanity and other serious crimes," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.

"The crimes alleged in the indictments were committed against a UN mission created by the Security Council. They involved assaults on both UN personnel and the East Timorese population," said Miller. Ten East Timorese who worked for the UN in organizing the 1999 independence ballot were among the estimated one-to-two thousand who died.

The UN official spokesperson's only comment on the indictments to date is a request to the media that "that in [the] future you'll say, 'East Timor indicts,' and not 'the United Nations indicts.'"

"Instead of splitting hairs, the UN should be forcefully advocating that those responsible for such serious crimes be brought to justice," responded Miller. "The UN must heed East Timorese victims' cries for justice or risk endangering its own missions."

"The nature of the crimes committed, the inability of the new nation of East Timor to seek justice on its own and the violence targeted at the UN all necessitate international involvement," added Miller.

"UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Security Council must establish an international tribunal with sufficient authority and resources to try these and other suspects," Miller said. "The tribunal must also investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed during Indonesia's illegal occupation of East Timor prior to 1999."


Last week, the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) in East Timor issued several indictments against senior Indonesian military officials, East Timorese militia leaders and others. The most wide-ranging accuse former commander General Wiranto and other high-ranking Indonesian military officials of crimes against humanity "undertaken as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against the civilian population of East Timor," according to a statement by the SCU. The indictment further accuses the commanders of "funding, arming, training and directing the militia.... The militia groups acted together with TNI in a planned and systematic campaign which led to crimes against humanity being committed across East Timor during the 1999 period."

The SCU was established by the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) under authority granted by UN Security Council Resolution 1272 to set up a system to administer justice in the territory. The resolution demanded that those responsible for violence be brought to justice. UNTAET also created Special Panels of judges to hear serious crimes cases from 1999. The Serious Crimes Unit now operates as a unit of the newly-independent country's Office of the General. The Secretary-General has regularly reported to the SecurityCouncil on the work of the SCU and Special Panels.

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. supports human dignity for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, economic justice and human rights, including women's rights. Additional background can be found at

Support ETAN, make a secure financial contribution:

Send a blank e-mail message to to find out how to learn more about East Timor on the Internet etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan


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