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Indonesian General Charged in a U.S. Court for Human Rights Abuses During the Independencevote in East Timor

StoryMarch 30, 2001
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A U.S. court in Washington, DC, heard evidence this week that Indonesian General Johny Lumintang is responsible forgross human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.

In 1999, Lumintang was the vice chief of staff of the Indonesian army. After the August 30, 1999 UN-organizedreferendum in which East Timor voted to be independent of Indonesia, the Indonesian military went on an orchestratedrampage. Along with militias which it controlled, the army systematically destroyed East Timor, murdering at least1,500 East Timorese and destroying 70-80 percent of the infrastructure. They forced hundreds of thousands of peoplefrom their homes.

Several of the victims of the violence that Lumintang oversaw traveled to Washington to testify under the Alien TortClaims Act of 1789. This law allows anyone, US citizen or not, to sue for acts committed outside the United States"in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States."

One of the witnesses testified that his brother, a pro-independence advocate, was murdered by militia members. Incourt, he cried as he recounted the story.


  • Anonymous, brother of a pro-independence advocate murdered by the Indonesian military
  • Allan Nairn, an activist and journalist who has reported extensively on Indonesia and East Timor, He wasarrested while covering the independence vote and its aftermath.
  • Judith Chomsky, lawyer for the plaintiffs.

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