This week an ad hoc Indonesian court acquitted 5 Indonesian military and police officials of crimes against humanity in East Timor. A 6th —-former governor Abilio Soares—- was given 3 years for his role in overseeing the territory’s destruction and the death of more than a thousand Timorese in 1999 alone. Four of the Indonesian officers were acquitted in one of the worst massacres after the referendum on independence-the Suai massacre.
A month and a half ago US War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld justified the resumption of US military aid to Indonesia saying that the country was making steady progress toward respect of human rights. This as the state department was intervening to crush a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil that charged the corporation and the Indonesian military with massive human rights abuses in Aceh. One of the congressional requirements for the resumption of US military aid to Indonesia-which was banned in 1999 after East Timor’s vote for Independence-was that Indonesia would have to be held accountable for human rights abuses in Aceh, West Papua and elsewhere before military aid could be resumed. But now 3 years later, the Indonesian forces that razed Timor to the ground are getting off scot-free.
- Aderito Soares, a Timorese human rights lawyer.
- John Miller, East Timor Action Network.