September 17th, 2008

Santana, Konis

ETAN: Response to State Department Informational Report on Indonesia, FY 2008


As required by the US Congress, in Sections 682 and 679 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2008 (hereafter “Foreign Operations Act”), the State Department recently provided reports to Congressional offices addressing progress made by the government of Indonesia in several areas of concern.

In Section 682 of the Foreign Operations Act Congress asked the State Department to report on the government of Indonesia’s progress in confronting the following issues:

• Steps taken by the government of Indonesia to deny promotion, suspend or prosecute military officers charged with serious crimes.
• The government of Indonesia’s response to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR), and the recommendations of the Council of Experts to Review the Prosecution of Serious Violations of Human Rights in Timor-Leste.
• Steps taken to end Indonesian military corruption, especially the maintenance of a massive business empire that includes both illegal and legal businesses.

In Section 679 of the Foreign Operations Act Congress mandated an additional report concerning Indonesia’s progress in the following as a condition for the release of $2.7 million of the $13.7 million appropriated by Congress for Foreign Military Financing in FY 2008:

• Prosecuting officers shown to have committed gross human rights violations in Timor Leste.
• Enhancing the transparency and accountability of Indonesia’s military.
• Creating a plan to effectively provide for accountability by the military.
• Allowing public access to West Papua.
• Investigating of the murder of human rights lawyer Munir Said Thalib.

Below we evaluate the State Department’s response to both sets of questions. In short, we can say that the government of Indonesia has made no measurable progress in any of these areas with the exception of the investigation into Munir’s assassination – though this progress is perhaps more limited than the State Department indicates.

While the State Department also reports no “sustained” progress in critical areas of accountability in the armed forces, the report includes overly positive assessments based on examples that are outdated, incomplete, or not germane to the question.

Part I: Section 682 Report

Sec. 682(1). Steps taken by the government to deny promotion, suspend from active service and pursue prosecution of military officers for serious crimes; the extent to which past and present military officials are cooperating with domestic inquiries into human rights abuses:

State Department Response:

The Government of Indonesia has made no sustained effort to deny promotion, suspend from active service, or pursue prosecution of military officers indicted for serious crimes. The limited progress that the government has made in pursuing accountability for past abuses of human rights has come largely in the form of rhetorical support by President Yudhoyono and others for the concept of accountability. A recent ruling by the Constitutional Court could provide a window for the Indonesian legislature to establish a stronger basis for pursuing accountability. Moreover, since the institution this decade of stronger human rights standards for current conduct, the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) has undertaken a number of investigations and prosecutions of soldiers and officers for misconduct, including misconduct involving the violation of citizens' human rights. The investigation following the May 2007 shooting of civilians in Pasuruan, East Java, which resulted in four killed and eight injured, is a prominent recent example. The trial of the 13 Marines indicted in that incident began on March 26 of this year and is open to the public.

There have been some limited moves toward making the human rights records of officers a criterion for promotion to the senior-most positions. In late 2007, President Yudhoyono replaced the top echelon of the TNI command with the appointment of a new TNI Chief of Staff and new Army, Air Force, and Navy chiefs. The four, who were drawn from the ranks of the TNI, are all known for their professionalism and clean records on human rights. President Yudhoyono chose not to select several strong candidates with problematic human rights records. LTG Sjafrie Sjamsuddin, who was in line to become the next Army Chief in late 2007, was reportedly passed over because of his problematic human rights record. TNI senior leadership has begun to take definitive actions against incompetent and ineffective officers. The 2007 Pasuruan shootings are, again, instructive ­ Major Husni Sukarwo, the Commander of the Graff Marines Training Area Center where the Marines accused of the shooting were based, was removed from his position and returned to a regional training facility headquarters.

The administration has often argued that increased U.S. military engagement with Indonesia is warranted by progress made so far in human rights and military reform or that engagement would encourage additional progress. Full and accurate answers to the questions posed by Congress would clearly show that engagement with the military has not effectively reduced widespread impunity, continued resistance to civilian control and oversight, lack of budget transparency, or the persistent emphasis on internal security.

Our Response:

The State Department’s response states there has been no sustained progress in denying promotion to officers who committed serious crimes. However, the report then cites a trial of marines involved in the May 2007 killings of civilians in a land dispute between villagers and the Indonesian navy in Pasuruan, East Java, as indicative of “limited moves” toward accountability. This limited move is not presented with the necessary context.

Indeed, as prosecutors have charged only one low-ranking officer and 12 enlisted personnel in this case, and have in fact failed to investigate command responsibility or the unit’s involvement with a private firm on whose behalf the unit was acting, this case could more appropriately be taken as further evidence of entirely inadequate accountability and transparency in the Indonesian military. The marines involved were sentenced to light terms from 18 months to 3 and ½ years on August 15, 2008. No one of higher rank has been charged.

Against this example of “progress” one must weigh a few facts more pertinent to the questions posed by Congress concerning accountability in the armed forces.

For example the report does not mention the recent appointment of special forces officer Major-Gen Soenarko (Sunarko) to the senior command position in Aceh province notwithstanding that officer’s role in military-directed attacks on civilians, on UN personnel and institutions and on foreign citizens in East Timor prior to the 1999 referendum. He was previously commander of the army's notorious Special Forces Command (Kopassus).

The report is also silent on the appointment of Colonel Siagian to a command position in West Papua notwithstanding that he has been twice-indicted by the UN-backed serious crimes process for his involvement in human rights violations in 1999 in East Timor. In August of 2008 Siagian was transferred out of West Papua following pressure from human rights groups, but there has been no effort to prosecute him for past violations or cooperate with international warrants issued for his arrest.

Finally, the government of Indonesia has failed to establish a human rights court tasked with investigating and prosecuting human rights violations during the Aceh conflict even though its creation was mandated by the 2005 agreement ending the conflict.

It is also worth noting that the prosecution of those responsible for disappearances and killings of student activists around the close of the Suharto regime has been completely impeded due to a procedural dispute between the National Human Rights Commission, the legislature, and the Attorney General’s office about their respective roles, exacerbated by the refusal of the senior retired generals Wiranto, Prabowo and & Syamsoedin to appear before the commission. Both the executive and legislative branches should take immediate action resolve the dispute.

Sec. 682(2). Responses of the government of Indonesia and Timor-Leste to the Final report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste and the June 2006 report of the Secretary-General of the Commission of Experts to review the Prosecution of Serious Violations of Human Rights in Timor-Leste in 1999:

State Department Response:

Eighteen alleged perpetrators of violence in 1999 were tried in a special ad hoc human rights trial in Indonesia. All but six were acquitted, and five of those six convictions were overturned on appeal. The conviction of the sixth, Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres, was overturned on appeal on April 4 of this year. Guterres was sentenced to ten years in prison on November 27, 2002 and was in prison from May 4, 2006, until April 7, 2008. Guterres' separate appeal followed his request for a special judicial review of his case by the Supreme Court. In June 2007, Guterres' defense team petitioned the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of Decree No. 26/2000 creating the special human rights court that had convicted Guterres. In February 2008, the Constitutional Court overturned specific legal provisions regarding the manner in which the court had been established. The broader implications of that decision are still being determined, but potentially they could render the actions and decisions of the human rights court legally void, which in turn could offer a legal avenue for rehearing all 18 cases.

The Governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste are pursuing a bilateral approach for both governments to acknowledge responsibility for serious violations of human rights in 1999. The final report of their bilateral Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) was due in early 2008. We expect the report to be released this spring. The final CTF report will draw from the Timor-Leste Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation (CAVR - the Portuguese acronym) and the UN Serious Crimes Unit reports, as well as the report of a special investigative team (KPP-HAM) the Indonesian government formed in 1999 and information from the Indonesian Attorney General's Office. To the extent that either government has reacted publicly to date to these reports or to the report to the UN Secretary-General of the Commission of Experts to Review the Prosecution of Serious Violations of Human Rights in Timor-Leste (then East Timor) in 1999, it has been to reaffirm their commitment to the CTF process, inaugurated in August 2005. The Commissioners have expressed the importance they place on the international credibility of the report as well as its importance as a vehicle for the governments to accept responsibility for crimes committed in 1999. The two governments appear to be moving toward a common understanding of the format and content of the final document.

Our Response:

The State Department essentially sidesteps the question. The government of Indonesia has not seriously addressed the report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR) or the findings of the Council of Experts (CoE). Indeed, at the time of their release Indonesian officials were dismissive of these reports findings and recommendations. Indonesia’s Foreign Minister rejected the CoE’s recommendation to set up an international tribunal to try senior officials for crimes against humanity should Jakarta continue to fail to hold accountable senior figures responsible for the 1999 violence.

Further, Indonesia was so angered by the results of the CAVR report that it delayed a meeting with Timor’s President Xanana Gusmao. At the time of its release, Indonesia’s foreign minister dismissed the report as "a war of numbers and data about things that never occurred." Current Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta has acknowledged the far-reaching nature of the CAVR's recommendations and committed to "endeavor to implement them," saying "We owe it to the people, we owe it to the victims, we owe it to the current generation and the future generation so that Timor-Leste can live in peace."

The State report also does not acknowledge that the Indonesian Government has refused to cooperate with international warrants for individual Indonesian military officers and others indicted in Timor-Leste for their roles in the 1999 violence.

Rather than address these facts, the report raises the prospect that eighteen senior ranking Indonesian military personnel and other alleged perpetrators of violence during 1999 referendum might face a rehearing.

Though not asked to comment on it, the State report then proceeds to misconstrue the history and purpose of the bi-lateral Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF) and thus creates a false impression that the CTF is in some sense a follow up to the work of the CAVR and CoE.

While the CTF certainly had access to the work of these earlier commissions, the timing and mandate of its commission indicates that the CTF was created in a failed effort to avoid the appointment of the Commission of Experts. The State Department report also fails to acknowledge the reality that the CTF could not assign individual responsibility and was barred from making any recommendations for judicial action against the perpetrators and organizers of the 1999 destruction and violence.

Thus, far from constituting a “vehicle for the governments to accept responsibility for crimes committed in 1999,” it is likely to perpetuate impunity for human rights crimes perpetrated by the Indonesian security forces. The United Nations rejected the CTF process because it did not meet international human rights standards, refusing to allow its personnel to participate in that process.

The State Department report ignores the much stronger and more specific conclusions and recommendations of the bodies cited in the question. The CAVR and CoE urged international action against the perpetrators and organizers of violence during Indonesia’s illegal occupation of Timor Leste in the event domestic efforts prove inadequate, as they clearly have.

Sec. 682(3). Steps taken by the Indonesian military to divest itself of illegal businesses:

State Department Response:

The TNI and its members have historically operated a wide variety of legal and illegal businesses. Illegal businesses have included resource extraction, toll collection, protection rackets, prostitution, smuggling, gambling, and other illicit ventures. Military elements are to some extent still involved in these activities today.

It is difficult to quantify the extent or to judge accurately the rate at which such activities are being reduced, but it appears that in recent years TNI leadership has grown less tolerant of such activities. Prosecutions of soldiers involved in illegal activities have taken place and have been publicized. In one recent case in late 2007, a military court found 15 soldiers guilty of involvement in illegal logging in East Kalimantan and sentenced them to one year in prison. The commander of those soldiers was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 16 months in prison.

There is a process in place for the divestment of legal TNI businesses. A September 2004 law banned military commercial activities and mandated that the government assume ownership of "all business activities owned and operated by the military, both directly and indirectly," within five years. President Yudhoyono signed in April of this year a regulation formally creating the National Team for the Transformation of TNI Businesses, whose mandate is to complete the transfer of legal businesses before September 2009. The team is headed by a credible, reform-minded former deputy director of the government's Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK), though it is still unclear how extensively the Team will seek to execute its mandate. A previous team, the TNI Business Supervision and Transformation Team had compiled a list of 1,520 identifiable businesses and in mid-2006 reported the results to the legislature (DPR). In June 2007, the government announced that only businesses with assets worth over roughly $2 million would be transferred, meaning that only six to twelve of the businesses would be affected. This left 324 smaller enterprises, 1,071 non-profit cooperatives and 25 foundations, whose function the government maintained was largely to serve the daily needs of soldiers and their families.

A key reason that TNI business operations continue at all is that current TNI budgets cover only about a third of the TNI's basic funding needs. Indonesia's 2008 defense budget is $3.5 billion, barely one percent of its GDP and much less than what its closest neighbors spend on a per capita basis. Although the 2008 appropriation is up from the 2007 funding level, the 2008 defense budget represents a smaller share of the overall budget. An adequate budget is essential for the TNI to develop into a modern, professional force.

Our Response:

The State Department response notes that "it is difficult to quantify the extent or to judge accurately the rate at which such activities are being reduced,” nonetheless concluding that "it appears that in recent years TNI leadership has grown less tolerant of such activities." The State response fails to acknowledge that since the enactment of legislation banning military commercial activities in 2004, the military has successfully resisted reform through significant delays and a narrowing of scope of the businesses to be removed from military control.

The President has delayed action in the face of military opposition. The 2004 legislation must be fully implemented by 2009, but only recently did President Yudhoyono enact regulations essential to that implementation. The delays allowed the assets of some of the targeted businesses to be looted. The Indonesian government has failed to publish the inventory of TNI businesses, which is needed to adequately monitor and evaluate the divestment process.

As the report notes, smaller businesses and foundations remain in military hands, leaving this part of the reform process unfinished. The 2004 law states clearly, “Within five years from the passage of this bill, the government must take over all business activities that are owned and operated by the military, both directly and indirectly.” There is no distinction as to size or class of business, and it was certainly not intended to cover merely half a dozen of the largest enterprises.

The State response also reports without correction the false Indonesian Government contention that military foundations exist "to serve daily needs of soldiers and their families." As revealed by respected Indonesian and international human rights organizations, the foundations provide little substantive assistance to enlisted personnel while providing valuable sinecure for senior officers.

The State response also repeats the Indonesian military contention that a "key reason" for the military business empire is that "current TNI budgets cover only about a third of the TNI's basic funding needs." As demonstrated by published research, including some conducted by the Indonesian government, many of military businesses are near financial collapse after having been bled dry by corrupt military management and pose serious financial liabilities. Many legal businesses and most illegal businesses within the military's business empire exist as channels of wealth for powerful retired and active duty military figures and their private collaborators/patrons. Even legal businesses open the door to ancillary illegal businesses, corruption, and human rights violations, such as the Pasuruan shootings that followed a dispute over village land that military was leasing to a private business.

Part II: Section 679 Report

S. 679(a)(2)(A)(i). Steps taken by the government of Indonesia on the prosecution and punishment, in a manner proportional to the crime, for members of the Armed Forces who have been credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights in Timor-Leste and elsewhere, and cooperation by the Armed Forces with civilian judicial authorities and with international efforts to resolve cases of gross violations of human rights:

State Department Response:

Indonesia continues to undergo a dramatic democratic transition, but among the country's enduring features is a deep, fervent, and widespread nationalism fostered by its long experience of colonial rule until shortly after World War II. The great majority of Indonesia's people today view accountability for past abuses of human rights through the lens of nationalism and view the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) as having defended the integrity of a nation that was, and to a much lesser extent still is, beset by separatist pressures. As with many transitioning nations that have grappled with the legacies of authoritarian regimes, Indonesians themselves will have to recognize that accountability matters not merely to the victims of the abuses and their families, but to the country as a whole, and that achieving it will be a mark of the maturity of Indonesia's democracy and a guarantee of justice for all its people. The U.S. government relays that message on a regular basis to the Indonesian government and people.

Although the record of accountability for past abuses remains disappointing, Indonesia's record on more recent cases of alleged human rights abuses is positive, as is the TNI's overall reform effort. These efforts constitute an implicit recognition by the TNI and Indonesian society of the unacceptability of human rights abuses occurring now or in the future. Reforms to date have included the TNI's withdrawal from political office, separation of the police from the TNI as an independent force subject to civilian control, initial steps toward the TNI's divestment of businesses, and the requirement that TNI soldiers undergo human rights training.

The new TNI leadership has made some moves toward accepting responsibility for known human rights abuses. In January 2008, newly installed TNI commander Djoko Santoso pledged TNI cooperation with two separate investigations by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM): the 1989 Talangsari case, in which Army soldiers allegedly killed approximately 200 civilians in the town of Talangsari, Sumatra, and the May 2007 shooting of civilians in Pasuruan, East Java, over a land dispute, which resulted in four killed and eight injured. The U.S. government is guardedly optimistic that the opening to the public of the trial of Marines accused in the 2007 shooting could establish a precedent for future accountability in a broader array of cases. The investigations for the two cases are currently in progress. In March, a military tribunal in Jayapura sentenced four TNI soldiers to, prison for their role in a rape case. A second lieutenant and another soldier are in custody in Papua, while the TNI investigates a fatal shooting in Tinginambut, Papua, in January 2008.

Another significant recent action was a February 2008 Constitutional Court verdict that provides an opportunity to advance or resume previously stalled domestic investigations into gross violations of human rights. Currently, the legislature (DPR) has not provided a legal basis for establishing ad hoc human rights courts for several major cases. The recent Court decision requires the legislature to heed the legal findings of investigations into past abuses by Komnas HAM and the Attorney General's Office ­ the only organs with the legal authority in Indonesia to make determinations of the severity of past abuses ­ ostensibly by establishing a legal avenue for a judicial process. This ruling may result in some as-yet-untried cases moving forward.

President Yudhoyono has endorsed trying members of the military in civilian courts, which will require the revision of the Code of Military Justice, Uniform Criminal Code, and several other statutes. The DPR has had some initial debates on the design of these laws, and the government has reportedly begun drafting appropriate laws. In Indonesia, a law typically takes several years to move its way through the cumbersome legislative process.

By comparison, the Indonesian government's overall record on accountability for past human rights abuses is less encouraging. There has been no serious accountability for the gross human rights violations credibly alleged to have been committed before and in the aftermath of the 1999 referendum in which Timor-Leste's people chose independence from Indonesia. Nor has there been serious accountability for gross human rights violations credibly alleged to have occurred in Aceh or elsewhere, or during the protests leading to the fall of former President Soeharto. Although the United States regularly discusses with the government of Indonesia the need for accountability to restore full confidence in the Indonesian Armed Forces with respect to past human rights violations and makes the same case publicly, the prospect for any significant accounting in the immediate future is uncertain at best.

Our Response:

The State response contends erroneously that "although the record of accountability for past abuses remains disappointing, Indonesia's record on more recent cases of human rights violations is positive, as is the TNI's overall reform effort." This error is based on citations to "reforms to date" as the “TNI withdrawal from political office, separation of the police from the TNI and initial steps toward TNI divestment of businesses and the requirement that TNI soldiers undergo human rights training." In fact these reforms have been partial or half-hearted, and have not included an end to the territorial command structure, the dismantling of the military businesses empire, or other prerequisites to genuine civilian control.

The TNI continues to maintain its "territorial system," in effect a shadow government that extends from the level of the central government down to sub-district and even village level. The TNI uses this intrusive presence to overpower civilian control. For example, the TNI recently decided which retired military officer would run for Governor of Central Java. In recent months, as national elections near, there has been an increasing flow of senior offices into retirement and immediately into politics.

The separation of the police from the TNI was a significant step, but one that occurred nearly eight years ago. As noted above, 2004 legislation demanding TNI divestment of illegal and legal businesses by 2009 has not been effectively implemented. The State response itself notes that the recent Presidential decree limits the businesses affected to those capitalized at more than $2 million: "only six to twelve of the businesses would be affected... leaving 324 smaller enterprises, 1,071 non-profit cooperatives and 25 foundations" unaffected.

TNI soldiers have been exposed to human rights training since the late 1990s. This is not a new development, and, as illustrated by the 1999 violence in East Timor and numerous other cases since, has been little more than a public relations exercise.

The State response claims that TNI Commander Djoko Santoso pledged TNI cooperation with two separate investigations by the National Commission on Human Rights (i.e., the Talangsari and Pasuruan cases). In fact, Santoso told the media in January 2008 that with regard to retired TNI officers summoned in the Talangsari case "whether they comply with or ignore the summons is not TNI business." Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sudarsono has strongly defended the retired generals' defiance of the summons. The Talangsari case therefore stands out as a prime example of the failure to cooperate with the Commission.

Finally, the broad contention that "widespread nationalism" is a barrier to military reform ignores the extensive efforts of many Indonesians to secure real military reform and accountability before the law. It also ignores regular newspaper editorials and commentaries by prominent Indonesian intellectuals who urge reform.

Sec 679(a)(2)(A)(ii). Steps taken by the government of Indonesia on the implementation by the Armed Forces of reform to increase the transparency and accountability of their operations and financial management.

State Department Response:

While there has been a steady trend in the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) this decade toward increased professionalism, particularly in the lower ranks, overall progress toward greater transparency and accountability has been slow.

The TNI has had some success in inculcating an ethic of accountability in its ranks. Soldiers now are required to undergo human rights training and to carry an illustrated manual of rules of engagement. Allegations of gross violations of human rights involving the TNI are down sharply over the past three years. In those instances where allegations of human rights violations have arisen this decade, the TNI has generally undertaken efforts to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute the cases.

Implementing transparency of the TNI's financial management is proceeding. The Indonesian Defense Department and the TNI have been cooperating with the United States and other partners providing foreign assistance to modernize and professionalize Indonesia's defense management. The U.S.-sponsored Defense Resource Management Study, a multi-year project that began in 2006 and is slated for completion in 2009, is helping Indonesia develop a long¬-term planning and programming process to manage its defense resources in line with Indonesia's strategic priorities. One goal of the study is to put defense spending on a sounder footing, thus relieving some of the pressure to engage in problematic business ventures. The study should give the Minister of Defense a managerial overview enabling his Ministry and other agencies, such as the State Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) and Department of Finance, to make better-informed decisions. This should also result in greater transparency of defense budgets, procurement, and planning for the legislature (DPR). Defense Minister Sudarsono has endorsed the interim results at several points. TNI has completed a National Defense Strategy Paper and a Defense White Paper, which provide the TNI a five-year plan for defense resources. The White Paper is currently with the Chief of Staff and we expect its publication in the near future.

Our Response:

Although it is correct that "soldiers now are required to undergo human rights training," such training was undertaken even during the Suharto regime.

The State Department's claim that "allegations of human rights violations involving the TNI are down sharply over the past three years" ignores multiple credible reports of abuses. During the last three years TNI "sweeps" in the highlands of West Papua have displaced hundreds of civilians from their homes into surrounding jungles where they lack adequate food, shelter and health care. TNI units conducting the sweeps have impeded Papuan efforts to bring humanitarian relief to these besieged civilians, some of whom perished. The one significant reduction in abuses has been in Aceh, following the tsunami and the subsequent peace process.

The State response states "One goal of a (U.S.-sponsored Defense Resource Management Study) is to put defense spending on a sounder footing, thus relieving some of the pressure to engage in problematic business ventures." In fact, TNI business ventures are often operated at a loss and, as noted above, serve mainly as sinecure for senior military offices. Tax avoidance and exploitation of government resources, assigning of no-bid government contracts to these businesses constitute a significant and direct cost to the government.

Sec. 679(a)(2)(B). that the government of Indonesia has written plans to effectively provide accountability for past violations of human rights by members of the Armed Forces, and is implementing plans to effectively allow public access to Papua and to pursue the criminal investigation and provide the projected timeframe for completing the investigation of the murder of Munir Said Thalib:

State Department Response:

We do not believe the Government of Indonesia has created or is implementing a systematic written plan to effectively provide accountability for past violations of human rights by members of the Armed Forces. Evidence of the government's efforts to provide accountability is detailed above [see response to Sec. 679(a)(2)(A)]. We do, however, believe that the Government of Indonesia is implementing plans to effectively allow public access to Papua and West Papua provinces and to pursue a criminal investigation into the murder of Munir Said Thalib.

The Indonesian government requires foreign journalists, NGO officials, and diplomats to obtain permission to visit Papua or West Papua provinces on official business, although there is some indication that the government is reviewing this policy. There are no restrictions on Indonesian citizens traveling to Papua or West Papua for any purpose, nor are there restrictions on foreigners traveling for tourism or other non-official purposes.

Although the Indonesian government has not announced any new policy to provide greater openness in Papua and West Papua, access to the provinces has improved in recent years, although foreign visitors' movements have been restricted and monitored. The imperative of continued improvement remains an integral component of the U.S. government's dialogue with Indonesia.

In 2007 the Indonesian government allowed a number of high-profile international visitors to Papua and West Papua: United Nations Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders Hina Jilani (June); A TIME Magazine correspondent (September); United States Ambassador Cameron R. Hume and a delegation of Embassy officials (October); U.S. Delegate Eni Faleomavaega (November); United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak (November). High-level visitors through May 30, 2008 have included: Prince Andrew, the United Kingdom's Special Representative for Trade and Investment (March).

We are aware of no cases where foreign diplomats, NGO officials or journalists were permanently denied permission to visit Papua or West Papua, although the Indonesian government has required that some visitors delay their travel or adjust their itineraries for security reasons. For example, Ambassador Hume had to delay his October visit to Timika, Papua, by one day because of rioting unrelated to his visit. Citing security reasons, the Indonesian government did not allow Delegate Faleomavaega to visit Jayapura and limited his stay in Papua to two-and-one-half days. In other cases, visitors have been forced to delay their travel to Papua or West Papua by several months.

In February 2008, the Indonesian government allowed a major delegation of diplomats and international development officials to attend the Second Development Partners' Conference in Jayapura, Papua, without requiring them to obtain permission.

Progress on investigations and prosecutions for the murder of Munir Said Thalib is a significant sign of the government's determination to pursue accountability for abuses of human rights allegedly committed by government officials. In January 2008, the Supreme Court re-convicted Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto of the murder and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. The Supreme Court had overturned a previous conviction for Pollycarpus for the crime in October 2006. The prosecution and police are continuing to pursue other suspects, including individuals at the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), whom they suspect of complicity in the murder. The investigation is ongoing although the government has not indicated a specific timeline for completing the investigative process. To an unprecedented degree, this trial has openly addressed the suspected involvement of security forces in Munir's murder.

Our Response:

Munir: The document is correct in reporting the reconviction of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto and his sentencing to 20 years in prison. However, the conclusion that the trial has openly addressed the suspected involvement of security forces “to an unprecedented degree” should not give the impression that this question has been adequately addressed by the government.

The report of the independent fact-finding team that first raised the issue of the involvement of intelligence officials has never been released, contrary to a provision in the presidential decree that created it. Furthermore, in Priyanto’s original trial, the prosecution portrayed him as motivated solely by a sense of patriotism, underplaying evidence he was an intelligence agent acting on orders from above.

Nonetheless, during the Supreme Court review of the decision, and the trials of two other airline employees, new facts came out about the role of intelligence officials. Together with a reinvigorated police investigation in 2008, this information led to a major step forward that took place after the State Department document was prepared: the arrest of retired General Muchdi Purwopranjono, a former deputy at the State Intelligence Agency. His trial began in August.

The question now is whether the prosecution will mount an effective case, and whether the possibility that Muchdi was in turn acting on orders is ever investigated.

West Papua: The report’s claim that "the Government of Indonesia is implementing plans to effectively allow public access to Papua and West Papua provinces," is suspect as there have been few specific procedural changes in recent years.

In November 2007, Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, visited West Papua accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia. Rep. Faleomavaega subsequently sent a public letter to President Yudhoyono in which he described persistent interference with his visit by Indonesian security forces who attempted to prevent meetings with senior Papuan officials and civic leaders, as well as ordinary Papuans, and who arbitrarily truncated his visit. (

In June 2007, Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, visited West Papua. Following her departure, Papuans with whom she had met faced threats and intimidation. Ms. Jilani expressed concern about this retaliation in her report and in separate messages to the Indonesian government during her visit. Her report also cited restrictions on travel to and movement within West Papua, including restrictions on the National Human Rights Commission investigations of human rights violations there. (

Notwithstanding State Department claims, restrictions on travel to and movement within West Papua also extend to Papuans. In recent years, Indonesian security forces, including Kopassus special forces, have conducted military operations, notably in the central highlands, which regularly displace Papuan civilians. Indonesian security forces, as a mater of course, impede and at times prevent attempts by Papuan churches and humanitarian organizations to bring critical supplies to these displaced villagers, who face life threatening denial of food, medical care and shelter in the forests.

In 2005 Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) wrote a letter to the President of Indonesia, signed by 33 colleagues, calling for lifting of restrictions on international access to West Papua. "The travel permit (surat jalan) system, requiring travelers to report their own movements to local intelligence agencies, is contrary to the freedom of movement that is essential to a functional democracy. In all areas of West Papua outside of major urban centers, foreigners are required to carry surat jalan travel permits...We call on you to abolish the travel permit system,” they wrote. The surat jalan travel permit system remains firmly in place.

The congressional letter also urged abolition of visa policies “that restrict access of international journalists, researchers, and NGO workers to West Papua.” These visa restrictions have not been abolished. It is currently possible for members of the international community to visit West Papua on a 30-day tourist visa. However, human rights workers, journalists, and researchers have been imprisoned and deported while visiting West Papua with these visas. Applications for longer visas are rarely approved and routinely subject to long­and sometimes limitless­"procedural delays".

The State Department report states: "We are aware of no cases where foreign diplomats, NGO officials or journalists were permanently denied permission to visit Papua or West Papua." Yet, in at least one specific case, which has been brought to the attention of U.S. Embassy personnel in Jakarta, volunteers with a major international human rights organization were denied visas to enter West Papua in early 2008.

Prepared by John Miller and Tom Ricker, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
Ed McWilliams and Eben Kirsksey, West Papua Advocacy Team
Matthew Easton, Human Rights First
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15 September 2008

The Church freaks out over the arrival of other Christian sects

A few years ago, in an obscure East Timorese border town called Tunubibi, Domingos Pereira and his wife did something they later discovered was dangerous. They quit the Roman Catholic Church.

It started in 2004 when a handful of Jehovah’s Witness missionaries showed up in their tiny village. Every week the missionaries held services in their home and by 2006 they had converted five families, among them the Pereiras.

It was five families too many. The local Catholic Church, which claims near total support in this tiny country, lashed out. A couple of nuns drove to the Pereira home and accused the Pereira family of selling their faith for cash.

Domingos protested. He said he was never given money only a Bible, which he and his wife read. After they read the Bible, he says, he and his wife believed what the missionaries had to say.

Domingos said the local nuns were furious. “They told us, ‘You can’t study the Bible. If you read the Bible every day, you’ll go crazy,’” he said. “They said the Bible was for the catechist, the sisters, the priest and that’s it. They said it wasn’t for everyone.”

In August 2006, the catechist told the townspeople to throw the missionaries out and refuse to rent their homes to any more missionaries. The missionaries left Tunubibi and moved a dozen kilometers up the road to Maliana.

Five hours from the capital, Maliana is one of the most remote cities in Timor. Here the church, overseen by a local priest who refused to be interviewed, is the highest authority, superseding even the police.

The Pereiras say they have faced torment and abuse from their neighbors ever since – and their story is not unique. Other members of the evangelical religion reported similar things: Visits from nuns, death threats or occasional beatings. Meanwhile, the police did nothing.

After their 2006 roust, the Jehovah’s Witnesses lasted two years in Maliana. Last month, a group of about 20 people surrounded their home one Saturday morning and told the missionaries to get out. The group was led by Anise Barreto, a 54-year-old grandmother. Barreto lives across the street from the now-empty house where the Jehovah’s Witnesses used to proselytize.

“We’re Catholic,” she said. “We have been Catholic since birth and we don’t want any other religion here.”

Barreto said the priest told her that, as a Catholic community, they couldn’t accept any other religions in their neighborhood. Barreto and other Catholics who helped drive out the evangelists claim the Jehovah’s Witnesses were giving out money in exchange for conversions. Barreto said the Jehovah’s Witnesses would take photos of their converts and, for each photo, they’d hand over money. But Barreto couldn’t say how much money was given as no Catholic interviewed had attended a service.

“If we went in there all our neighbors would talk about us and later they’d come and attack us,” said one neighbor.

Domingos Pereira said rumors are rampant. “People believe the foreigners gave us money so we would join them,” he said. “Because we were no longer Catholic, people would ask why we’d left the Church. They couldn’t understand it. They assumed we were given money.”

Maliana was not always so intolerant. During the 24-year Indonesian occupation, the town boasted a Protestant church, a Buddhist temple, a Catholic church and a mosque. When the Indonesians left in 1999, they took with them the Buddhists, Protestants and most of the Muslims. Many Timorese say the Church helped them throughout the struggle against Indonesia, and, they say, without the Church Timor would not be independent. To some, questioning the Church is traitorous.

Still, Natalia Duarte left the Church last year to be a Seventh Day Adventist. She left in the most dramatic way possible.

“People hate me because I burned my statue of Mary in front of my house,” she said. “Lots of people didn’t like that because they said it went against the Church.”

One night, when she thought most of her neighbors were asleep, she grabbed her wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, the most sacred Catholic thing in a Timorese home, took it outside and set fire to it. Not everyone was asleep and someone saw her.

A few months ago the priest and some others came to her house to ask her why she’d changed religions. They asked about the statue.

“They said, ‘Give us back our statue.’ I said, ‘It’s my right to do what I want with it,’” she explained. “They knew what I did with it.”

The priest said she could never take communion again. Duarte is all alone because she’s the only Seventh Day Adventist in town. Her husband is a Catholic as are her two children. They go to church without her.

To some she is evil. Carlito Guterres, a middle-aged man and father of four, assaulted her on the town’s main street in broad daylight. He said he’d do it again, too. He said she was walking down the street and he called her over to talk religion.

“She took out her Bible and she started to quote from it. I slapped it out of her hands and then I slapped her in the face,” he said. “She ran away.”

He said she had no authority to talk about religion because she is not a priest.

The idea of a religious conversion scares most Timorese who see any religion besides Catholicism as heretical. Yet evangelical religions are spread through proselytizing looking for converts so clashes happen.

Pereira said he and his wife used to go door-to-door, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses taught him. He said he found people willing to listen, but everyone was scared. More than once he and his wife were chased away with sticks and swearing.

“Lots of people want to join, but they’re afraid,” said Duarte. “They’re afraid of their families, afraid of the priest, afraid of the sisters and afraid of the youth gangs.”

Forced evictions, assaults, threats and beatings are all illegal, but the police do nothing to help the victims. The district’s acting police commander said his officers don’t want to get involved with religious affairs, so they don’t step in. Even the United Nations police who are training the local police don’t investigate.

Klefer Belo is a Brazilian pastor with an international evangelical group called Sacred Vision. Belo and his wife moved to Maliana a year ago and they lasted two days before they were driven out by a Catholic mob. Belo and his wife moved and they say they’re not moving again.

Belo is about to build the first evangelical church in Maliana, and both he and his wife have gotten death threats and some youth have threatened to torch his church once he builds it. Belo says the police have not been helpful, but even still he will not give up.

“Sometimes we’re scared,” Belo said. “But we believe God is with us and he will never abandon us.”
Santana, Konis

Human rights activist `in coma'

Northern Territory News (Australia)

September 15, 2008

A POPULAR Darwin activist is in an induced coma in hospital after a freak accident, while friends and family hold vigils for him.

Rob Wesley-Smith was rushed to Royal Darwin Hospital last week after a fall. Darwin-based East Timorese woman Lurdes Pires said Mr Wesley-Smith (pictured) was helping a friend shift some rubbish at the Nhulunbuy tip when he fell into a large bin.

She said he was hauling some scrap iron into a recycling bin when the wind caught it and knocked him down.

It is understood he suffered nine broken ribs and bruising to the brain.

Mr Wesley-Smith's family have rushed to his side. He was last night in a serious condition in a coma.

``The Timorese people are all very worried,'' Ms Pires said.

``We don't want to lose him. There have been vigils at people's houses.''

As well as being a long-time activist for East Timorese independence and human rights, Mr Wesley-Smith is also a planning advocate and writer of letters to the Northern Territory News.
Santana, Konis

Privatising Land in Timor Leste

by Prof. Tim Anderson

Global Research, September 15, 2008

This article was first published in the Tetun language, in Timor Leste's Kla'ak (The Flame) newspaper

In July 2008 Timor Leste’s Agriculture Minister Mariano Sabino spoke at seminars about agricultural sustainability and food security in Dili and Dare. Yet a few months earlier the Minister had signed a document which could deliver the most devastating blow to Timor Leste’s sustainability and food security since independence.

In a January 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Indonesian-based GT Leste Biotech, Minister Sabino agreed to hand over 100,000 hectares of Timor’s scarce agricultural land to be used as a sugar-cane plantation.

Similarly, in February, Secretary of State Avelinho da Silva signed a contract with the Australian-based biofuel company Enviroenergy Developments Australia for Jatropha development on 59 hectares of land at Baucau. It is rumoured that even larger tracts of land are under discussion for rubber plantations.

These documents signal a move underway in the AMP Government to privatise large tracts of Timor Leste’s land. Yet the country’s Constitution says that “only national citizens have the right to ownership of land” (s.54). This means neither foreigners nor corporations can own land. However the recent agreements would effectively alienate prime agricultural land to foreign corporations through long term leases.

When Minister Sabino’s MOU and the Enviroenergy contract were made public, they attracted widespread condemnation. Demetrio de Carvalho, Director of the Haburas Foundation, said a sugarcane monoculture would threaten East Timor’s biodiversity and that the chemicals used would pollute the country’s water. Fretilin MPs warned this land ‘give away’ was corrupt and would threaten the country’s food supply. NGO representatives argued that large plantations would destroy the soil and that participation in the biofuel industry would push food prices even higher.

The AMP Government responded with counter-claims that biofuel plantations would generate thousands of jobs, provide cash opportunities for neighbouring farmers and add to the country’s infrastructure and training capacity. Minister Sabino claimed the plantations would not compete with food crops and argued the benefits of biofuels.

The big powers, through AusAID, USAID and the World Bank, have pushed for commercialisation of land in Timor Leste. They would like to see Timor Leste’s constitution amended, to allow foreign corporations to own land. Yet they too were unhappy, because of the way in which contracts seem to have been awarded. The corruption claims are serious, but will not be discussed here.

In this article I want to highlight the serious food security and sustainability consequences of land privatisation for Timor Leste, with reference to the experience of other developing countries in land alienation, agricultural liberalisation and large monoculture cash crops. I also present some reasons why Timor Leste’s constitutional ban on foreign ownership of land is worth defending.

The problems come from three linked processes: the likely undervaluation of land, poor accounting of the costs and benefits of large monocultures, and the instability introduced through agricultural liberalisation.

Undervaluation of land Agricultural land in developing countries is seriously undervalued when it is alienated, either by long-term lease or sale. The AMP Government has suggested the land to be handed over to GT Leste is unused and ‘unproductive’. But with one of the fastest growing populations on earth, Timor Leste will certainly have to expand its food crop lands, in the very near future.

Reference to land being ‘unused’ is one factor that contributes to undervaluation. Another is the uncertainty over title. Whose land is this that is to be leased? Many disputes over title remain in Timor Leste, a product of colonial history. A third factor is that most land has never been commercialised and there is no market for land. With no experience in valuing land, and short of cash, Timorese communities are highly vulnerable to ‘bad deals’.

The undervaluation of land is widespread. Studies I have carried out in Papua New Guinea, show that local communities there have leased their land to oil palm plantations for as little as $10 per hectare per year, plus minimal royalties. Yet the subsistence production value of one hectare of good land in PNG (the local market value of one family’s food, grown and consumed) will often reach $5,000 per year, or five times the minimum wage. Companion planted cash crops can add between several hundred and several thousand dollars to this amount. Imagine the total value of those thousands of dollars per year, over many generations. This capacity of land to deliver sustainable yields, year after year, is never fully reflected in rents or sale prices.

When PNG communities realise a company is making thousands of dollars from their land, they want a share of that money – but long term leases creates legal barriers to their claims. Land is a people’s most precious and enduring asset – far more valuable than minerals, oil or gas. Yet cash-poor communities often give away this precious asset, in their desperation for a few dollars.

Poor accounting of large monocultures While land is undervalued, the claimed social benefits of large monocultures are typically over-stated. Corporate investors encourage this. Yet the extraction of profits from local resources and labour is the main reason large monocultures are created. So the income benefits to local communities are exaggerated and the environmental costs are played down.

The AMP government plans to charge no rent at all “during the first nine years” for the 100,000 hectares of land offered to GT Leste Biotech. The only consideration that can be seen, from the MOU and government statements (and putting aside the possibility of corrupt payments), is an “expectation” of several thousand jobs, a vague offer to “provide community facilities” and promises to share some electricity capacity and to sell sugar and ethanol at “reasonable” prices.

However, from the MOU, there would be no claim on the company if this “expectation” of thousands of jobs became just a few hundred. Further, it is almost certain that most will be lowly paid jobs. While the benefits for Timor are vague, the company’s rights in the MOU are more emphatic. The first 50 years of the lease will be “irrevocable” and there will be “no state participation of any sort, whatsoever” in the business. That is, Timor Leste will not share any of the sugar-cane-ethanol profits.

There is also a suggestion to engage local smallholder farmers in cane production, to provide additional fodder for the company’s sugar-ethanol mill. This is the ‘agro-nucleus estate’ model promoted by the Asian Development Bank, and seen in some parts of PNG over the past thirty years.

In PNG ‘village oil palm’ farmers are paid by for their oil palm fruit contributions to the monopoly mill. However they are forced to accept fruit prices set by the company, and complain bitterly about fruit prices. The average income for oil palm farmers in PNG’s Oro province (61 Kina per week) is higher than the minimum wage (37 Kina) but less than half the average informal sector incomes (130 Kina) for example in small businesses, fruit selling and transport.

Monocultures reduce the diversity of production in a region, and reduce the capacity of small farmers to companion plant and spread their crop options. Sugar cane is similar to oil palm in this regard. The land clearing erodes and degrades the soil, silting up rivers and choking surrounding coral reef. Over half the fertiliser used runs into the water, causing algae blooms. In the oil palm areas of PNG there has been obvious loss of crop diversity, biodiversity and damage to rivers.

Finally, monocultures undermine small farming and local food production and contribute to food insecurity. The economic liberal argument is that they produce more income, which can then be used to purchase imported food. However most of that new income is appropriated by the investor company and local communities become more dependent on cash income to feed their families.

Small farms are undermined yet, as U.S. food security expert Peter Rosset says: “Small farms are ‘multifunctional’: more productive, more efficient and contribute more to economic development than large farms. Small farmers can also make better stewards of natural resources, conserving biodiversity and safeguarding the future sustainability of agricultural production.”

Local communities are no better off financially with these monocultures yet they bear very serious environmental and food insecurity costs. None of this is properly accounted for when governments hand over precious land to private investors.

Instability from agricultural liberalisation Concerns over sustainable agriculture are closely linked to food security concerns and to the current global food crisis. Until the recent crisis, brought on by steeply rising food prices, small farmers had been hurt by cheap imports. When imported staple food is cheap, farmers cannot justify planting next season’s crop. They just cannot compete.

The earlier low prices were a result of heavy domestic subsidies by the big grain exporters, such as Australia, the EU and the USA, and pressures for agricultural liberalisation. Since the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture, the big powers have poured large subsidies into agriculture (allowed under WTO rules as they are not directly ‘trade related’), yet tried to dismantle the tariff protection and food price regulation that was more common in developing countries.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in 2004: “Although lower basic food prices on international markets bring short-term benefits to net food-importing developing countries, lower international prices can also have negative impacts on domestic production in developing countries that might have lingering effects on their food security.” Indeed, some countries experienced famines from the impact of low food prices on domestic farming.

PNG has few food security problems, because the land is fertile and families have kept their traditional lands. However if we go to a poor Caribbean country like Haiti we see a different picture. Like many countries, Haiti had moved from more diverse staple foods (rice, corn, cassava, millet) to greater dependence on rice. Yet Haiti had been almost self-sufficient in rice, until the 1980s. Then, under financial pressure from the World Bank it began to dismantle its tariffs and other forms of protection. Haiti began to import 200,000 tonnes of rice per year, mostly from the US. This drove many local farmers out of business and, when prices rose again, poor people could not afford to buy rice. Today, more than half the population of Haiti is food insecure or malnourished.

Low food prices damage local production. High food prices hit poor people who have to buy their food. This is the unstable situation created by trade-dependent food patterns.

The recent high food prices have been driven by the high oil prices (which contribute to fertiliser and transport costs), demand for richer diets (meat, oil seed) in the wealthier countries and pressure on land, including from the biofuel industry. The FAO points out that these rising prices, in the last year, have pushed the number of hungry people in the world from 850 million to nearly one billion.

Biofuels have raised introduced competition between food for people and food for cars. The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, who has called biofuels a “crime against humanity” puts it this way: “232kg of corn is needed to make 50 litres of bioethanol. A child could live on that amount of corn for a year.”

Now, in the middle of Timor Leste’s own food crisis, it has been proposed that Timor, on the one hand, gives away farm land which could produce food and, on the other hand, participates in a global industry which will raise even more the price of imported food. Will Timor export ethanol at the expense of food for its children?

Concluding comments A prudent approach to food security, in any country which does not have a staple food surplus, must involve strong measures of domestic self-reliance and self-sufficiency. This includes Timor, which has special reasons of history, environmental damage, population growth and climate to be concerned about food security and sustainable agriculture.

Putting aside the word games some agricultural exporting neighbours play with the words ‘self-reliance’ and self-sufficiency’, self-reliance must mean Timor seeking to grow most of its own food, support small farmers to remain on their land, encourage domestic markets and place agricultural exports in second place.

Such an approach will meet hostility from the big powers who advocate agricultural liberalisation and the privatisation of land. But they are looking to their own advantage and are not the ones who have to live with food insecurity and environmental damage.

Niche and companion planted exports such as organic coffee and tropical fruits may not compromise the land, but export oriented monocultures certainly will. And after all, well managed tourism will raise many times more money that any agricultural exports, and distribute that money far more widely.

No sensible person should seriously link land privatisation and large monoculture cash crops to ‘agricultural sustainability and food security’, but this is now happening in Timor Leste. It is the East Timorese people who, with their great spirit of resistance, will have to ensure that they do not, once again, become beggars in their own country.

Dr Tim Anderson is Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney.
Santana, Konis

When war criminals hide out in the open

By Piers Akerman

September 16, 2008 12:00am

THE Rudd Labor Government has dudded its constituency on almost every domestic issue and is now turning its back on core principles of humanity.

Four years ago, Labor MPs Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek bared their concerns for the victims of war crimes living in Australia in an interview with the 7.30 Report and expressed the hope those victims would never have to worry about being confronted by their torturers in the streets of their adopted nation.

According to Roxon, now Rudd's Health Minister: "This is a very important issue of principle, it's an issue about bringing people to justice if they have committed terrible crimes, and we're talking about some of the most horrific sorts of events that probably you and I or your listeners can't even conceive of. I don't want people who are fleeing from those sorts of circumstances overseas and trying to make a new life here in Australia to find that they are going to run into at the shops someone who was actually perpetrating that violence against them."

And Plibersek, now Minister for the Status of Women added: "There are survivors of torture and abduction and many people who have lost family members in countries around the world who live in Australia and who can point to people in their own community whom they accuse of committing these crimes."

All well and good, but Joanna Ximenes, an East Timorese woman living in Sydney, says she has identified the man who she believes was responsible for the death of her brother, and the Rudd Government seems reluctant to treat the matter seriously.

Channel 7's Today Tonight reporter James Thomas last week aired two segments about an East Timorese man, Guy Campos, who Ximenes accuses of contributing to the beating death of a young boy in 1979 and another woman, Odetty Moniz Alves-Platt, accuses of assisting Indonesian soldiers in seizing her father in 1979 and placing him aboard an Indonesian military helicopter, never to be seen again.

Thomas' files contain further accounts from others who claim that Campos collaborated as a spy with the Indonesian special forces and participated in a number of acts of torture.

Naldo Rei, author of Resistance: A Childhood Fighting for East Timor, identified Campos as one of a number of intelligence officers who beat him with an iron rod until he was unconscious. Jose Belo, another East Timorese, says Campos was among the collaborators who tortured him with electric shocks, kicking and beating in 1995.

But it would seem that is insufficient for Home Affairs Minister, Bob Debus, to take an interest and not good enough for the Australian Federal Police, who seem to be dragging their feet even though Campos is in Australia on a 90-day pilgrim's visa issued in connection with World Youth Day and is scheduled to leave the country next month.

East Timorese MP Jose Teixeira, the former minister for the East Timorese sea negotiation, told me he believes Campos should be held in Australia under Australia's war crimes legislation, which, he says, was intended to ensure such accountability.

"One of Australia's citizens is seeking to hold such a person accountable for his actions. It is fair and reasonable to take the view that, at this stage, Timor-Leste's justice system would not dispense justice to either the alleged victim's family or the potential accused," he said.

"The prosecutorial arm is notoriously slow and inefficient in bringing matters before the courts in a timely manner. Similarly, even the United Nations has reported that the office of the Prosecutor General is extremely susceptible to political interference. Though it is matter for the Australian justice system, it is with utmost certainty that I can say, on the balance of convenience, this matter, left to the Timorese justice system, would be extremely unlikely to be dealt with in a timely and just manner for all."

The MP is not alone in this view.

Dr Clinton Fernandes, a former major in the Australian army and the former principal intelligence analyst on East Timor for the Australian Defence Force, now the senior lecturer in strategic studies at University of NSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy, told me: "I am certain he (Campos) participated in and supervised the administering of beatings with iron rods, torture through electric shocks, and by placing the leg of a table on someone's foot, and jumping on it, in violation of the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture."

Government sources say action against Campos was not initiated on his arrival here because the Immigration Department relies on material prepared by International Criminal Tribunals, the International Court of Justice and the UN. However, the East Timor conflict has never been brought before an international criminal tribunal, or the ICJ or an enquiry by the UN, and its 2006 commission of inquiry was not into war crimes but the conflict which led to the fall of the last government.

The argument is specious and leaves one with the conclusion that Rudd Labor talked the talk on pursuing war criminals while in Opposition, but is not prepared to walk the walk in Government.
Santana, Konis

Australian defence minister off to Indonesia, East Timor

BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific

September 16, 2008

Text of report by Radio Australia, international service of the government-funded ABC, on 16 September

The region's defence and stability will be the subject of talks when Australia's defence minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, travels to Indonesia and then East Timor over the next couple of days. The visit follows on from last week's statement by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who voiced concern over an arms build-up in the region.

While in East Timor, the question of when Australian military personnel will pull out from the fledgling country will also be discussed, although no date is being considered. Mr Fitzgibbon says defence ties with Indonesia have become closer, which Australia wants to continue.

[Fitzgibbon] It's a large developing nation to our near north, and it's absolutely in Australia's interest that we do all we can in working with the Indonesians to promote stability in their own country. And we've been very happy in recent years with the way Indonesia has developed, and we want to continue with that good progress.

Source: Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 1100 gmt 16 Sep 08
Santana, Konis

6.1 magnitude quake rocks East Timor's capital

Sept 16, 2008

DILI, East Timor (AP) ­ A powerful undersea earthquake rocked East Timor's capital on Tuesday, sending terrified residents fleeing from homes and buildings, witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 6.1 quake struck 90 miles (140 kilometers) southeast of Dili.

"Everything was shaking for a few seconds," said Joao de Araujo, an employee at the United Nations office in the city. "All I could do was run from my office building."

Women were screaming "Earthquake! Earthquake!" and children were crying, he said. Others started banging on bamboo drums and on metal objects to sound the alarm.

East Timor sits along a series of faultlines and volcanos known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. In December 2004, a massive earthquake off Indonesia's Sumatra island ­ along the same faultlines ­ triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people.