East TImor: Report blames Indonesian military for atrocities

The East Timor and Indonesian Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF), created by the Timorese and Indonesian governments, submitted its final report on July 14. The report concluded that Indonesian military and civilian officials organised, funded and directed the violence, including torture, rape and murder, that surrounded the 1999 independence ballot in Timor.

The CTF's limited mandate meant it could not name individuals or recommend prosecution. Human rights and Timorese solidarity organisations have condemned the report as a political document that merely confirms the findings of earlier reports by the United Nations (UN) and other bodies about the role of the Indonesian military and civil administration in Timor.

The East Timor Action Network's John Miller said: "The CTF report is clearly a political document, resulting from compromises between Indonesian and Timor-Leste Commissioners, rather than a definitive, objective statement of events. For example, it insists on a false even-handedness between violations by pro-Indonesia and pro-independence forces."

The report examines only the 1999 period, failing to consider the systematic violence committed by the Indonesian military while East Timor was under Indonesian occupation.

The Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal (ANTI) has urged the UN not to fund initiatives recommended by the CTF report, but to instead enact a law implementing the recommendations of the East Timor Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission (CAVR). CAVR's 2500-page report and 204 recommendations, released in 2005, have been buried by the Timorese government.

According to that report, 102,000 to 183,000 civilians died in East Timor between 1974-99. ANTI urged the Timorese parliament to move towards prosecuting the perpetrators and making reparations to the victims.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon urged Timorese and Indonesian governments to "take concrete steps to ensure full accountability" and ensure that the CTF report be publicly released as soon as possible.

In the wake of the report, former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer has admitted that he knew about the Indonesian military's role in the violence. Throughout 1999, before the ballot, Downer publicly acknowledged only that "rogue elements" in the military were responsible.

More than 1500 people died and the majority of the population was displaced following the announcement of the ballot result, in which 78.5% of Timorese rejected autonomy under Indonesia in favour of independence.