Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August 2014, 11:05 GMT

East Timor: Prospects for Resolution

Publisher WRITENET
Author Tessa Piper
Publication Date 1 June 1995
Cite as WRITENET, East Timor: Prospects for Resolution, 1 June 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a6c24.html [accessed 22 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

1. INTRODUCTION

The killing of unarmed demonstrators by Indonesian security forces in the East Timorese capital, Dili, in November 1991, and its capture on film by visiting foreign journalists turned the international spotlight on East Timor in a way that many years of sporadic reports of large scale loss of life and other human rights violations had been unable to do[1] The widespread international publicity that followed the killings succeeded in bringing into sharp focus the unresolved issue of the illegal annexation of East Timor, as well as drawing attention to the continuing significant opposition within East Timor to Indonesian rule and the very serious human rights situation in the territory.

Since the events of November 1991 Indonesia has come under increased pressure at the UN to resolve these issues, both as a result of scrutiny by the Commission on Human Rights and its thematic mechanisms, and in the context of the long-running talks under UN auspices to find a just, comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor. The increased pressure has certainly not produced any marked change in the Indonesian government's response. It continues to resist implementing recommendations for improving its human rights record in East Timor, and progress at the talks continues to be slow. Nonetheless there are signs, albeit limited ones, that the Indonesian government recognises the growing international concern about the situation in the territory and that it must at least be seen to be taking note of that concern in the consideration of its policies on East Timor.

The most important sign of progress on the question of East Timor in the last few years is the agreement reached between the Indonesian and Portuguese governments in January 1995, in the context of the UN Secretary General's consultations on the future of East Timor, to allow intra-East Timorese talks facilitated by the UN Secretary General to go ahead. This represents a significant breakthrough in that it recognises for the first time the legitimacy of direct East Timorese involvement in UN-sponsored dialogue about the future of East Timor. It also represents a major concession - some might say a major gamble - on the part of the Indonesian government which has little to gain, and a great deal to lose, by allowing the talks to go ahead.

If the intra-East Timorese talks do take place, and this is by no means certain, there is room for optimism that they could be the spur needed to drive discussions forward. The talks themselves will be just a first step in what will inevitably be a long and fraught process. Nevertheless they represent the greatest opportunity yet for real progress to be made towards finding an internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor.

2. HISTORICAL CONTEXT[2]

The April 1974 coup d'état in Portugal presaged the disengagement of Portugal from her colonies. In East Timor this meant the beginnings of political self-determination as a number of political parties were formed.

Two main parties emerged - the Timorese Democratic Union (União Democratica Timorense - UDT) and the Timorese Social Democratic Association (Asociação Social Democrática de Timor - ASDT), later to become the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, more commonly known as Fretilin (Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente). Both parties were committed to East Timor's eventual independence, although they differed over the speed and manner in which this should be effected, with the UDT favouring a slower and more gradual approach as well as closer association with Portugal during the transitional period.

A third party, much smaller than the UDT or Fretilin, but which subsequently played a significant role, was the Timorese Popular Democratic Association, Apodeti (Asociação Popular Democrática Timorense). Its manifesto called for 'an autonomous integration into the Republic of Indonesia in accordance with international law'[3] and its leaders had very close links with the Indonesian intelligence service[4] Its strongly anti-independence line meant that it refused an invitation to sit with Fretilin and the UDT on the Decolonization Committee set up by the Portuguese administration and was further marginalised from the mainstream political process in early 1975, when the UDT and Fretilin formed a coalition and agreed proposals for a transitional government.

These political developments were watched closely by the Indonesian government which became increasingly unhappy at the prospect of an independent East Timor, especially an independent East Timor under left-wing Fretilin control. (By early 1975 Fretilin had taken over from the UDT as the largest party and enjoyed the most popular support.) As a result, despite assurances given in June 1975 by the Indonesian Foreign Minister that Indonesia had no intention of interfering in East Timor[5]5, it was becoming increasingly involved in the territory's political affairs.

In the meantime the UDT-Fretilin coalition, which soon became strained in the face of a growing divergence of views between different wings of the parties, broke up in May 1975. Then in August, apparently in an effort to prevent Indonesia from carrying out its threat to intervene if Fretilin came to power, the UDT attempted a coup d'état. There followed several weeks of fighting, during which between 1,500 and 3,000 people are estimated to have died[6] During this period the Portuguese administration withdrew from the mainland to the island of Atauro, and Fretilin soon took control of most of the territory, although it continued to regard Portugal as the administering power. However, following the repeated refusal of the Portuguese administration to return to the capital and continue the decolonization process, Fretilin established a de facto administration. In the months following Fretilin's victory in the civil war Indonesian forces continued to undermine Fretilin's control through repeated border incursions. With a full scale invasion seeming imminent Fretilin unilaterally declared independence on 28 November 1975 and appealed for international recognition and support. A few days later leaders of Apodeti and the UDT, who were by now across the border in Indonesia, signed a declaration of integration. Then on 7 December 1975, just nine days after the declaration of the state of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, Indonesia launched a full-scale invasion of East Timor.

Within weeks of the invasion a Provisional Government of East Timor was set up which included leaders of Apodeti and the UDT and in May 1976 a 37-member Timorese Popular Assembly approved a petition for the integration of East Timor into the Indonesian state. Two months later, on 17 July, President Suharto signed a Bill of Integration, making East Timor Indonesia's 27th province.

3. OPPOSITION TO INDONESIAN RULE

A massive Indonesian military presence and widespread human rights violations have been unable to deter both the armed and non-violent opposition to Indonesian rule, which has continued since the invasion of East Timor in December 1975. Armed opposition has come from Falintil (Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor Leste), the armed wing of Fretilin, which withdrew from the main towns following the invasion[7] They continued fighting Indonesian troops throughout the late 1970s, adopting guerrilla tactics as the most appropriate means to fight a hugely superior force in terms of numbers and firepower. The failure of the Indonesian forces to wipe out Fretilin and Falintil in the first five years following the invasion was thanks, in large part, to the widespread popular support they enjoyed among the civilian population[8]8, which as a consequence suffered great loss of life and severe hardship.

The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions notes that between 1975 and 1980 an estimated 100,000 Timorese out of a population of 700,000 are alleged to have been killed by Indonesian armed forces[9] A further 100,000 are said to have been killed or died of starvation or disease between 1980 and 1984[10] amid continued guerrilla fighting, apart from a brief ceasefire in 1983. Armed opposition continued throughout the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s, and was led by José Alexandre Gusmão (more commonly known as Xanana Gusmão) until his capture in November 1992[11] The armed resistance is at present led by Konis Santana.

There has been a decline in fighting in East Timor in recent years. Exact figures of the strength of the armed opposition are unavailable. The Indonesian military estimates it as less than 200, but East Timorese with links with the guerrillas say the figure is closer to 500[12] The scale of Indonesia's military presence in East Timor is similarly open to debate. The Indonesian military is widely believed to under-report its strength and figures released by the Indonesian authorities frequently conflict with estimates from other sources. In October 1994 the English-language daily Indonesian Observer cited foreign military attaches in Jakarta who estimated that there could be 10,000 or more troops in the territory, roughly double the 5-6,000 that are officially acknowledged[13] The Indonesian authorities have repeatedly promised to reduce military strength in East Timor[14]14, but there has been no sign of this in recent months. Indeed, quite the contrary. Recent reports suggest that troop numbers have been dramatically increased - in March 1995 Australian journalists visiting the territory quoted 'reliable observers' who estimated that the total number of soldiers, political and intelligence agents in the territory could be as high as 17,000[15]

The 1990s have been marked by a shift in the nature of opposition to the Indonesian occupation from armed activity to a much more significant role being played by non-violent urban protests, with East Timorese youth being particularly active in these[16] The opening up of the territory in 1989 and the consequent increase in the number of foreigners visiting the territory have meant that peaceful demonstrations are no longer simply a means of venting frustration at Indonesia's presence in East Timor, but are also an effective way of publicising continuing opposition to this. Protests are therefore frequently timed to occur during visits by foreign dignitaries or journalists. Examples include protests by pro-independence East Timorese in July 1992 while the Papal Nuncio to Jakarta was celebrating Mass in the Dili cathedral and demonstrations by small groups during the visit to the territory in July 1993 by US congressional aides and a delegation of Swedish parliamentarians[17] A group of East Timorese also staged a pro-independence demonstration in front of a hotel in Dili in April 1994 during an official visit to East Timor at the invitation of the Indonesian government by twenty-six foreign journalists[18] Other protests have been timed to coincide with relevant international events, such as during the summit meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held in Jakarta in November 1994[19] or while UN talks on East Timor were taking place in January 1995[20]

The Catholic Church in East Timor, which commands widespread respect among a population more than 80 per cent of which is Catholic[21]21, has also been an important focus for advocates of non-violent opposition to Indonesian rule. Thanks to its institutional independence - it reports direct to the Vatican rather than to the Indonesian Bishops' Conference - and its international links the Catholic Church has been able to play a vital role in defending and protecting threatened individuals and publicising human rights violations[22] A key role in this is played by the leader of the Catholic Church in East Timor, Bishop Belo, the outspoken apostolic administrator for the Dili diocese, who has himself come under strong pressure from the Indonesian authorities as a result[23]

The fact that such opposition continues almost two decades after the occupation began, despite the highly effective surveillance system in operation in East Timor, the heavy-handed security approach to demonstrations and the very real threat of human rights abuse for those involved, is clear evidence of the strength of opposition to Indonesian rule. Other grievances - among them the presence in the territory of large numbers of Indonesians who have come there to live, high unemployment and the increasing economic marginalization of East Timorese - have only served to fuel the deep-seated antagonism towards Indonesia that is still felt by many, and to add to this sense of discontent and alienation[24]

Opposition to Indonesian rule in East Timor is still very much a focus for East Timorese exiles too, although political as well as personal differences have resulted in serious problems in presenting a united front. Considerable success in this regard was nonetheless achieved by resistance leader Xanana Gusmão in the late 1980s when, in an effort to coordinate the resistance and increase unity, he resigned from Fretilin and formed the National Council of Maubere Resistance (Conselho Nacional da Resistencia Maubere - CNRM)[25] The CNRM is an umbrella organization which brings together Fretilin and the UDT, as well as other pro-independence groups. The CNRM does not represent all of the East Timor opposition, and political differences within the organization itself ensure that relations are at times strained, but the continued cohesion of the CNRM has provided opponents of integration with a common platform from which to campaign[26]

In 1992 the CNRM drew up a peace plan for East Timor and these proposals remain on the table today[27] In broad terms it proposes a one to two year phase of talks under UN auspices, to be followed by a five to ten year period of UN supervised autonomy to include a referendum on self determination. The plan's moderate approach has been - and indeed continues to be - a subject of sometimes heated debate within the CNRM itself, with some members feeling that the proposals give too many concessions to the Indonesian government[28] Nevertheless, its measured tone and content is impressive and its themes - at least those set out in phase one of the plan such as troop withdrawal and increased access to East Timor - could provide a good basis for discussion during the proposed intra-East Timorese talks.

4. EAST TIMOR AND THE UNITED NATIONS

The UN does not recognise the legitimacy of Indonesia's sovereignty over East Timor - although a number of member states have done so - nor Indonesia's claim that the territory, through the 'act of free choice' of May 1976 has been decolonised. The UN's position is that the people of East Timor have yet to exercise a free and fair act of self-determination and that the process of decolonization is not yet complete. The UN therefore regards East Timor as a non self-governing territory and Portugal as the administering power.

4.1 The General Assembly and the Security Council

The UN responded swiftly in condemning the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in December 1975 - the General Assembly was in session at the time - with the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 3485 which deplored the invasion and called for the withdrawal of Indonesian forces from the territory[29] Later the same month the Security Council passed unanimously Resolution 384 (1975) which reiterated these calls and called on all states and parties concerned to cooperate in achieving a peaceful resolution and decolonization[30] Four months later, in April 1976, the Security Council adopted Resolution 389 (1976), reaffirming Resolution 384 and again calling on Indonesia to withdraw[31]

These three resolutions, and the 1976 General Assembly resolution which rejected Indonesia's 'act of integration'[32]32, were repeatedly reaffirmed in resolutions adopted annually by the General Assembly until 1982. In that year Resolution 37/30 was passed requesting the Secretary General to 'initiate consultations with all parties directly concerned, with a view to exploring avenues for achieving a comprehensive settlement of the problem'[33] Since then discussion of East Timor has remained on the General Assembly's agenda but debate on the subject has been annually deferred while the Secretary General's consultations continue. These consultations are discussed in Section 5, below.

4.2 The Commission on Human Rights

The Commission's response to the human rights situation in East Timor has been mixed in the years since the killings in Dili in November 1991. Statements and a resolution passed by the Commission have ranged from strong condemnation of the government's human rights record to statements focusing largely on the limited positive action taken by the Indonesian government to improve it.

The events of November 1991 were discussed at length at the Commission session in 1992. The outcome was a consensus statement which deplored the killings and urged the Indonesian government to improve the human rights situation in East Timor. It also called on the government to facilitate access for humanitarian and human rights organizations and to implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on Torture in 1992[34]

The Commission was much more condemnatory the following year and the result was a resolution (Resolution 1993/97) which criticises many aspects of the Indonesian government's response to the November 1991 killings, as well as expressing grave concern at reports of continuing human rights violations. It calls on the government to expand access to East Timor to human rights organizations and relevant international observers, to implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on Torture in 1992, and to invite the four human rights theme mechanisms to visit the territory[35] The fact that the Commission was able to pass a resolution and that it was passed by a clear majority (22 votes to 12 with 15 abstentions)[36] in spite of intense lobbying by Indonesia, reflected growing international concern over both the government's continued failure to respond satisfactorily to the events of November 1991 and the continuing poor human rights situation.

Indonesian lobbying appears to have been much more effective during the 1994 session when no resolution was passed and the Commission adopted instead a weak consensus statement. The statement makes no mention of the 1993 resolution, nor the failure - with one exception - to implement any of the steps called for in that resolution[37] (The exception was an undertaking to invite the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions to visit East Timor, which he did in July 1994.) The Indonesian government was quick to seize on this consensus statement and to interpret it as having 'lauded the Indonesian Government for the progress achieved in its human rights record'[38]

The consensus statement agreed during the 1995 session is less conciliatory than that of the previous year, although it too fails to hold the Indonesian government to the important steps set out in the 1993 resolution. Nonetheless, it is critical of ongoing and past human rights abuse in East Timor. The statement, for example, expresses 'deep concern' over continuing reports of human rights violations in the territory, including recent killings, and urges continuing investigations into the killings in November 1991. Significantly, it commits Indonesia to inviting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to East Timor in 1995 and to consider requests to visit East Timor by relevant thematic rapporteurs and working groups[39]

The Indonesian government's record on compliance with the recommendations made by the Commission, as with other UN bodies, is poor. Some modest steps have been taken by the Indonesian government, such as the visit to East Timor by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and the agreement to invite the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to visit the territory. But it shows little enthusiasm for implementing the vast majority of recommendations made. Indeed, the Indonesian government has made clear that it feels no obligation to comply with the 1993 resolution on the grounds that it, and several other countries, voted against it[40]

As far as the 1995 consensus statement is concerned there can be little doubt, based on its past record, that the Indonesian government will comply only to the extent it judges necessary in order to assuage international criticism. What remains to be seen then is how far the international community will go in pressuring Indonesia to comply with the recommendations and whether the Commission at the next session will have the political will to act firmly in response to any failures in implementation of the statement's recommendations.

4.3 Human Rights Theme Mechanisms

If the Indonesian government has a poor record as far as complying with recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights is concerned, it has shown a similar reluctance to assist the four human rights theme mechanisms in discharging their mandates in respect of human rights violations in East Timor.

In their most recent reports the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary executions all report that they continue to receive relevant cases regarding human rights violations in East Timor[41]The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention does not report any new cases, but confirms that it is continuing to consider the case of Xanana Gusmão[42]

Three of the four mechanisms report having outstanding cases to which satisfactory responses are still awaited, with the Indonesian government either failing to respond to cases raised or else responding inadequately. Reporting on his communications with the Indonesian government on allegations of torture received in 1994, the Special Rapporteur notes that there are a number of cases to which the government has failed to reply since they were submitted in 1993[43] Meanwhile, both the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances note with concern the government's failure, some three years on, to investigate properly or account adequately for the fate of and identify those killed or 'disappeared' after the killings in November 1991[44]

The mechanisms have also been hampered by the reluctance of the Indonesian government to invite them to East Timor, in spite of repeated requests by both the Commission and the theme mechanisms themselves that they be permitted to visit the territory. To date only two visits have taken place. The first was a three-day visit in November 1991 by the Special Rapporteur on Torture. (The Rapporteur was actually in Dili at the time of the November 1991 killings although he was not present and reports that he was only informed of what happened 'at a very late moment'[45]) Since then the only other visit by any of the theme mechanisms has been by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, who spent four and a half days in East Timor in July 1994[46] gathering further information on the November 1991 killings and the human rights situation since then[47] As yet, no further invitations have been forthcoming, and the Indonesian government has merely undertaken to continue to give the matter 'careful and genuine consideration'[48]

The two visits to East Timor that have taken place have resulted in reports that are highly critical of the Indonesian government's attitude towards human rights. The Special Rapporteur on Torture for example noted that torture is said to be practised 'rather routinely' in areas deemed to be unstable such as East Timor[49] The findings of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Axecutions are equally, if not more, damning. He found that not only were the actions of the security forces during the November 1991 killings part of 'a planned military operation designed to deal with a public expression of political dissent' but, even more seriously, that the conditions that allowed the killings to occur are still present[50]

The response of the Indonesian authorities to these reports has been largely negative, with the recommendations made being either almost completely ignored or else derided. More than three years after the Special Rapporteur on Torture issued his report and recommendations on ways of improving human rights standards and preventing torture in Indonesia and East Timor, only one of the eleven recommendations - that a National Human Rights Commission be established - has been implemented, and even that fails to meet UN standards for the setting up of such commissions[51]

Meanwhile, the recent highly critical report by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has met with a more directly hostile and negative response. In a letter circulated to several governments during the 1995 session of the Commission on Human Rights, the Indonesian government dismissed his findings out of hand. Among the grounds given for this were that the report paints 'a very distorted picture' and contains 'fundamental flaws' in both its analysis and conclusion, including being 'fraught with subjective preconceived judgement and idées fixes towards Indonesia'[52]

4.4 Accession and Ratification of International Human Rights Standards

Of the principal international conventions on human rights, Indonesia has ratified only the 1952 Convention on the Political Rights of Women and the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It has signed but not ratified the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It has neither signed nor acceded to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[53]

5. THE GOOD OFFICES OF THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL

Responsibility for looking beyond the human rights situation and for trying to resolve the issue of Indonesia's illegal annexation of East Timor rests with the UN Secretary General, who is mandated by the General Assembly's 1982 resolution to carry out consultations with all parties concerned to try to achieve a comprehensive settlement regarding East Timor[54] However, progress has been very slow and limited up to now to bilateral talks between the governments of Indonesia and Portugal. Over the years there has been no attempt to address the substance of the problem - the two sides are too polarised for that to be feasible - and discussion at these talks have focused instead on improving the atmosphere of the talks and on agreeing 'confidence building measures'[55] The hope is that if these can be agreed, they could lay the groundwork for creating an atmosphere conducive to addressing the substantive issues[56]

The grindingly slow pace of the talks showed no sign of gaining momentum until the beginning of 1995. Then an important breakthrough in talks between the Foreign Ministers of Portugal and Indonesia was reached when the two sides agreed that separate talks facilitated by the Secretary General could take place between pro- and anti-integration East Timorese[57] This represents a highly significant step forward because it is an acknowledgement by the two governments of the legitimacy of direct East Timorese involvement in talks on the question of East Timor. Until now East Timorese of all political persuasions both inside and outside the territory have had to be content with their involvement being limited to indirect input via the two governments and informal consultations with representatives of the UN Secretary General.

The news that the date of the proposed intra-East Timorese talks, originally scheduled for April 1995, have had to be postponed before they even begin clearly demonstrates the difficulties that lie ahead[58] At present it is unclear whether this is a temporary problem that can be resolved or whether it is a prelude to a withdrawal of Indonesian government support for the process. If the former, there is a chance that real progress can begin to be made. If the latter, it could mean the indefinite stalling of an already painfully slow process.

5.1 Portugal-Indonesia Talks

Progress in the talks between Indonesia and Portugal was always liable to be extremely difficult to achieve in view of the differences that remain between them on the fundamental issues of the status of the territory and self determination, and this has indeed proven to be the case. Thus, while the last two rounds of talks do give some reason for cautious optimism that the dialogue has advanced, no one can be in any doubt that the prospect of a 'comprehensive settlement' being reached on the question of East Timor is still a very long way off.

In the early years of the talks discussions focused primarily on reaching agreement for International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) programmes to facilitate both the repatriation of former officials of the Portuguese administration and the departure for Portugal of a number of East Timorese either on family reunion or humanitarian grounds[59] In the latter part of the 1980s talks centred on a proposal for a Portuguese parliamentary delegation to visit East Timor[60] Even reaching agreement on this issue proved to be fraught with difficulties and the visit was finally called off shortly before it was due to take place in late 1991 because of the refusal of Indonesia to agree to the presence on the trip of a journalist nominated by Portugal to accompany the delegation[61] This resulted in the talks being broken off and it was only in September 1992 that Indonesia and Portugal agreed to resume the dialogue[62]

Since then there have been five rounds of meetings between the Indonesian and Portuguese foreign ministers - in December 1992, April and September 1993, May 1994 and January 1995 - but no real progress in the talks was made until May 1994. Then, in addition to agreeing that access and visits by UN, human rights and humanitarian organizations should be continued and expanded, Portugal and Indonesia agreed that the Secretary General should look at ways of convening an 'all-inclusive intra-Timorese dialogue'[63] Not only this, but the Portuguese Foreign Minister agreed to attend a meeting with leading East Timorese supporters of integration, while his Indonesian counterpart agreed to meet leading East Timorese opponents of integration[64]64, meetings the two governments have long resisted. Although nothing significant came out of these latter meetings in terms of substance the talks, which took place in October 1994[65]65, gave East Timorese leaders their first opportunity to outline their positions to the governments in a formal forum. During the January 1995 talks the agreement in principle regarding the 'all-inclusive intra-East Timorese dialogue' was taken one step further when the two governments agreed that the UN Secretary General should go ahead with making arrangements for it to take place[66]

The next round of government talks was originally scheduled for May 1995[67]67, and it was intended that discussion should then focus on the conclusions drawn from the intra-East Timorese talks which were due to take place in April. However, following the announcement that the April talks have been postponed until an as yet unspecified date in June[68]68, the foreign ministers' meeting will not now take place until July[69]

5.2 Intra-East Timorese Talks

Clearly the agreement reached between Indonesia and Portugal that there should be intra-East Timorese talks under UN auspices is in itself a sign of significant progress. Positive as this is though, there is no guarantee that the talks will achieve their stated aim which is 'to provide a forum for continuing the free and informal exchange of views to explore ideas of a practical nature that might have a positive impact on the situation in East Timor and assist in the establishment of an atmosphere conducive to the achievement of a solution to the question of East Timor'[70] Indeed, in view of the length of time it has taken to reach even this stage, not to mention the different viewpoints of the proposed participants in the talks, considerable patience and determination will be needed in order to achieve the stated goals of the meeting.

An indication of how delicately the UN Secretary General is going to have to proceed if he is to succeed with these talks was demonstrated by the announcement that the talks have already had to be postponed[71] The postponement came after the Indonesian government and pro-integration East Timorese criticised the UN over the way in which invitations to attend the talks were issued and the Indonesian foreign minister lodged a formal complaint with the UN Secretary-General. The minister argued that in issuing invitations without first consulting the Indonesian government the Secretary General had exceeded his remit which is to 'facilitate' rather than organise, the talks[72]

The Indonesian government is said to have been provoked into issuing the complaint because it is concerned about the UN Secretary General's choice of participants[73] (Invitations have been sent to East Timorese leaders representing both pro- and anti-integration views as well as to prominent East Timorese intellectuals, and include East Timorese living both in Indonesia and East Timor and in exile.) There is speculation, for example, that the Indonesian authorities are unhappy about the proposed participation of East Timorese intellectuals like Armindo Maia, the vice rector of the University of East Timor, agricultural engineer Florentino Sarmento and economist Mariano Saldanha - all of whom have advocated greater political autonomy for East Timor[74] The Indonesian government is also said to have disapproved of the decision to invite Bishop Belo, who also favours increased autonomy, to attend as an observer[75]

The Indonesian government is further understood to be unhappy that not only was it not consulted about who would participate in the intra-East Timorese talks, but that neither were those East Timorese who participated in the 'reconciliation talks' sponsored by the Indonesian government that took place in England in December 1993 and September 1994[76] These talks have been portrayed by the Indonesian government, and indeed recorded in the Indonesian press, as representing a breakthrough in progress on the East Timor issue. They have been presented as a process which has taken the first steps towards reconciliation between various East Timorese groups and much was made of the presence at the talks of both pro- and anti-integration East Timorese[77] However, the strong Indonesian government guiding hand in the talks, the less than balanced choice of participants - there was a noticeable absence of any representatives of the CNRM - and the lack of any substantive outcome[78] ensured that they were widely dismissed as a cynical attempt to put pressure on Indonesia to agree to broaden the bilateral talks to include East Timorese. Even so, the Indonesian government has sought to portray the UN facilitated intra-East Timorese talks as a continuation of these earlier 'reconciliation talks'[79]79, hence the call for participants of those talks to be consulted.

The postponement of the intra-East Timorese talks is a setback and could signal further delays or, at worst, the retraction of Indonesian government support for the talks. It indicates that the Indonesian government is having second thoughts about the wisdom of allowing them to go ahead. After all, the talks could be an important first step towards more substantive discussions on the future for the territory, something the Indonesian government has no reason to wish to help advance. However, Indonesia is under immense pressure not to be the one to scuttle this potentially important step forward in the negotiating process and it will consequently be extremely reluctant to be seen to be responsible for this.

5.2.1 Possible Agenda

No formal agenda has been set for the intra-East Timorese talks, and the vague wording of the agreement regarding what can be discussed should theoretically allow for a wide range of issues to be raised[80] The one issue that has been specifically excluded from the discussions is the question at the heart of the matter - the political status of East Timor[81] This is no real surprise in view of the focus that the UN Secretary General has put on the importance of first working on 'confidence building measures' before any attempts are made to deal with the main substantive issue[82]

There are a number of important topics that could usefully be addressed in this forum concerning ways of improving the situation in East Timor in the short and medium term. If agreement on these can be reached by the participants then this in turn would put considerable pressure on the Indonesian authorities to take the conclusions of these talks seriously and consider their implementation. The June meeting on its own though is unlikely to be more than an 'ice breaker', with participants setting out the issues that they would like to see discussed further rather than addressing their substance, but the success or failure of this meeting could be key in determining the pace and nature of future progress in the UN-facilitated talks on East Timor.

A key area of concern which will undoubtedly be a central focus for discussion is the question of human rights in East Timor. The UN Secretary General has made clear that he sees the human rights situation as being 'intrinsically linked' to the peace process, describing the improvement in conditions in East Timor as an essential requirement to progress in the talks between Indonesia and Portugal[83] UN resolutions have reiterated international concern about the human rights situation in East Timor, and individual governments have also pressed the Indonesian authorities to improve their human rights record in the territory.

The kind of issues that are frequently raised in this regard, and that are therefore likely to figure in the talks include a reduction in troop numbers, increased access to the territory by UN agencies and representatives as well as international human rights and humanitarian organizations, the establishment of a human rights commission in East Timor and the release of political prisoners.

The CNRM will have the issue of troop cuts high on its own agenda for the talks. It has repeatedly proposed an end to all armed activities in East Timor and a UN verified withdrawal of troops[84]84, but a commitment to at least a significant reduction would be an important step forward. Bishop Belo has also called more than once for a reduction in troop numbers[85] Their case will be considerably strengthened by the backing such proposals have among both governments such as the United States[86] and the UN. The UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions, for example, has made clear that he sees a 'drastic reduction' of the military presence in East Timor as a pre-requisite for confidence building measures and has stressed that such a reduction should include not just combat units, but territorial battalions and military intelligence as well[87]

Increased access to the territory for both UN bodies and non-governmental organizations is another matter that is likely to feature and is also something that the UN has repeatedly urged. The fact that the Indonesian government has agreed to increased access means that it will be hard for it to resist the demands that this be implemented and until it does the pressure on it to do so is only likely to grow. Indeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions has recommended the creation of independent non-governmental organizations in East Timor in addition to the granting of full access to the territory of Indonesian and international human rights non-governmental organizations[88]

The CNRM will also be eager to discuss its often repeated call for the release of East Timorese political prisoners and in particular resistance leader Xanana Gusmão[89] In his October 1994 meeting with anti-integration East Timorese the Indonesian Foreign Minister reiterated the government's official position, that under Indonesian law Gusmão could not be freed but it was possible that his sentence could be reduced[90] (The fact that East Timor's 'integration' into Indonesia has never been recognised by the UN means that the legitimacy of trying East Timorese is at the very least open to debate.) However, the possibility of releasing Xanana Gusmão and other East Timorese political prisoners, or at least of substantially reducing their sentences, is clearly an important bargaining chip that the Indonesian government will no doubt be prepared to use when it judges it most tactically advantageous to do so. A promise of their early release should therefore not be ruled out.

In addition to human rights questions, there are a number of other items likely to be raised during the talks. They include calls for greater participation of East Timorese in the local administration and in the economy and respect for East Timorese cultural and religious identity. Cultural issues and the question of local administration were discussed during the Indonesian-sponsored 'reconciliation talks' in October 1994[91] It is in these areas, as well as perhaps in respect of the problems created by the large numbers of Indonesians coming to live in the territory, that the Indonesian government will be most likely to be prepared to offer concessions. It is therefore these topics that it will want to steer the talks towards if possible.

The anti-integration side will also be keen to raise the major question of autonomy for East Timor, which is one of their longer term demands[92]92, although in view of the initial nature of the intra-East Timorese talks and of course the extreme sensitivity of the question as far as the Indonesian government is concerned it is unlikely to be a subject of substantive discussion at this time. Nevertheless this is an issue that is increasingly being discussed, not just by the anti-integration side but by the Indonesian government, and is therefore something that at least should be flagged.

The Indonesian government has repeatedly rejected the idea of granting any form of autonomy to East Timor on the grounds that East Timor already has special treatment equivalent to autonomy and has more privileges than other provinces already[93] Some internal discussions have, however, taken place about the idea of granting East Timor some form of 'special status', although recent statements by government and military officials have sent mixed signals about the current thinking on the matter. For example, the Indonesian Home Minister's statement in March 1995 that the government had ruled out the prospect of according East Timor special status[94] directly contradicted the chief of the East Timor military command a few days earlier, who had told the visiting Australian Ambassador that the granting of 'special status' to the territory is still under consideration[95] What is unclear is what exactly the government means by the term 'special status'. What it may propose is a 'special status' along the lines of that granted to the north Sumatran province of Aceh, the capital Jakarta, and the town of Yogyakarta in Central Java. However, the reality is that in practice the 'special status' they enjoy has little significance and such a proposal would therefore have no support among East Timorese seeking greater autonomy for the territory.

Clearly there is no shortage of controversial issues that could be discussed during the intra-East Timorese talks and therefore many possibilities of the talks being derailed. They do nonetheless represent the first official opportunity for East Timorese of a range of political opinions to have their input into discussions on the territory, and Timorese of all political persuasions will therefore be loathe to lose that opportunity. What remains to be seen now is, provided the talks take place, whether the East Timorese involved in the talks will be able to set aside personal animosity and deep seated grievances in order to find areas of common ground and to work towards establishing a framework for further discussions. If they are, and the talks begin to take on their own dynamic, then the Indonesian government may find it increasingly difficult to control the process and resist the concessions that it will undoubtedly be called upon to make.

6. THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR

6.1 Restrictions on Human Rights Monitoring: Controls on Information and Access

Since 1989 the government has allowed greater access to East Timor and since then increasing numbers of foreign visitors, including official delegations and journalists, have visited the territory[96] Even so, entry is still tightly controlled and some individuals and organizations remain barred from entry. Those who are allowed to enter East Timor frequently report that their movements are closely watched and at times restricted. No institutionalised monitoring of the human rights situation in East Timor is allowed and attempts to gather such information can result in visitors being forced to leave and, more seriously, serious repercussions for the East Timorese involved[97]

Sensitivity about press reporting on conditions in East Timor has meant that at times of heightened tension journalists are liable to be barred from entry, as happened for two months during early 1995, when only two foreign journalists were permitted to visit the territory[98] In other instances foreign visitors have been expelled after witnessing opposition protest. In November 1994 four foreign journalists were expelled after being present at an anti-government demonstration at the University of East Timor, one for allegedly inciting the youths to protest and the other three on the grounds that they did not have the correct permits[99] In another incident two months later four tourists were detained and deported for taking pictures of protesters being seized and beaten by police during a peaceful demonstration at the same university[100]

As has been described in Section 4.3, UN theme mechanisms continue to face restrictions on access to the territory. So too do human rights and humanitarian organizations. International non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch/Asia continue to be denied access to East Timor[101] The ICRC does have access to the territory and is able to visit political prisoners there, although at times it has been prevented from doing so. In its most recently published annual report, covering 1993, the ICRC - usually very reticent about any difficulties it experiences concerning its activities - complains of encountering 'serious obstacles' in carrying out its work. This included problems both in gaining access to detainees and in being granted unimpeded access to the civilian population[102]

Even those who are successful in entering East Timor are liable to experience great difficulties in gathering information about the human rights situation, because East Timorese fear being subjected to human rights violations if they are seen speaking to foreign visitors. This was highlighted in the report by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions on his July 1994 visit to the territory. In it he refers to the precautions taken by East Timorese before, during and after meetings with him to discuss human rights violations and states that he 'clearly sensed terror' among many East Timorese he met[103]

In its efforts to prevent visitors from gaining a true picture of the human rights situation the authorities will at times physically seek to prevent East Timorese known to have information about the human rights situation from meeting official delegations. Shortly before a visit by the UN Secretary-General's envoy Amos Wako in February 1992 to investigate the November 1991 killings, security forces briefly detained scores of East Timorese youths and sent them on 'guidance courses' for the duration of the visit[104] Similarly, over 50 people were arrested prior to the arrival in September 1993 of official delegations from the USA and Sweden[105]

The risks to East Timorese who attempt to pass on information about human rights violations in East Timor were recently highlighted by the case of theology student Antonio Neves who until his arrest was also secretary of the underground student resistance organization Renetil (Resistencia Nacional Estudantil de Timor Leste - National Resistance of East Timorese Students). He was sentenced to four years in jail in February 1995 for sending documents about human rights violations in East Timor abroad[106]

6.2 The Nature of Human Rights Violations

Despite the Indonesian governments efforts to restrict the flow of information about the situation in East Timor, enough information about human rights abuse does get abroad to paint quite a clear picture about the human rights situation in the territory. There is no doubt that violations are no longer on the huge scale of those experienced in the first decade of the occupation, but the picture nonetheless remains grim.

Reports by organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch/Asia continue to catalogue a wide range of violations, from arbitrary detention and torture to extrajudicial execution and 'disappearance', to which all real or suspected government opponents risk being subjected[107] The friends and relatives of political opponents are also at risk. Amnesty International confirms that people of all ages, including young girls and elderly men and women, have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including rape, in an effort to obtain information on the whereabouts or activities of their relatives, or to force people being sought to give themselves up[108]

In a major report on human rights in Indonesia and East Timor published in September 1994 Human Rights Watch/Asia describes East Timor as 'a place where arbitrary detention and torture are routine and where basic freedoms of expression, association and assembly are non-existent'[109]

At times of increased tension the human rights situation is liable to deteriorate still further. Both Human Rights Watch/Asia and Amnesty International reported an upsurge in reported human rights violations in late 1994 and early 1995 following a spate of pro-independence protests and demonstrations caused by ethnic tensions between East Timorese and Indonesians living in the territory[110]

This tension was exacerbated in early 1995 by gangs of hooded men in civilian dress, known locally as 'ninjas', who began to terrorise the population of Dili. The 'ninjas' roamed the streets attacking and abducting civilians and conducting raids on the homes of suspected independence supporters, apparently with the connivance of the Indonesian military[111] Relative calm only began to be restored in mid-February when, amid mounting international news coverage, more troops were deployed on the streets and some arrests were made. Even so, residents reported that there was no immediate end to harassment and arrests[112] and the following month there were reports of the attacks spreading to outlying towns and villages [113] Commenting in March on the situation in the territory church workers, aid agencies and diplomats are reported to have characterised it as the worst in years[114] By April the situation was reported to have improved, although residents stressed that it remained tense in the capital and other towns[115]

Demonstrations are frequently the spark for an upsurge in human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces. Peaceful protesters are at risk of arbitrary arrest, beatings, torture and even killings. The most recent dramatic example in recent years was the killing of up to 270 people in Dili in November 1991 after Indonesian troops opened fire on a crowd of about 2,000 unarmed East Timorese demonstrators. (In addition to those killed more than 200 others who 'disappeared' after the killings remain unaccounted for[116]) Although nothing on a similar scale has taken place in East Timor since then there is no indication that the Indonesian security forces have changed their often violent response to any show of political opposition, however peaceful, as reports by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch/Asia show[117]

6.3 Indonesian Government's Response to Allegations of Human Rights Violations.

It is rare that the Indonesian authorities investigate allegations of human rights violations in East Timor. When they do it is often only after cases become the subject of considerable international attention and any action taken is frequently inadequate. Two examples of killings of East Timorese civilians by the Indonesian security forces illustrate this.

The killing of unarmed demonstrators in Dili in November 1991 and the Indonesian government's response has been investigated by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. His findings highlight the inaccuracies of the Indonesian government's claims concerning events surrounding the killings and also illustrate the latter's lack of serious concern for human rights in East Timor. For example, assertions by the government that security forces acted spontaneously in response to a riotous mob and fired in self-defence have been discounted by the Rapporteur who found rather that the actions of the security forces constituted 'a planned military operation'[118] and that the demonstrators were unarmed. His report is also critical of the way in which the authorities conducted investigations into the killings and 'disappearances'. It also criticises the inadequacy of the charges and inappropriateness of the light sentences imposed upon the few members of the security forces accused of responsibility for the abuses. He concludes that the response of the government 'illustrate[s] that little importance is given to the respect of the right to life by Indonesian law enforcement officials in East Timor'[119] Most seriously, as already pointed out, the Special Rapporteur believes that the conditions that allowed the killings to occur are still present[120]

This last concern appears to be borne out by the killing of six East Timorese in Liquiça, west of Dili, in January 1995, and the response of the Indonesian authorities to it again demonstrates the way in which it seeks to cover up human rights violations by the security forces and to protect the perpetrators. The military initially said that the six were members of the armed resistance who were killed during an armed clash with an army patrol[121]121, and there was no question of an investigation into the killings. It was only when foreign diplomats, responding to reports from East Timorese and human rights organizations that those killed were in fact civilians, began to pressure the authorities to investigate[122] that the military agreed to do so. Since then it has been forced to admit that two army officers 'violated existing regulations' during the incident and to concede that four of the six were not members of the armed opposition after all, although it insists that they were its supporters[123]

But this is still a long way from the findings of the government-appointed National Human Rights Commission which has also investigated the killings. It has concluded that soldiers not only killed the six, but that they were tortured before being killed[124] It has also confirmed that none of them were members of the armed opposition[125] Once again then the Indonesian authorities have sought to cover up - and are seeking now to play down - a serious incident of human rights abuse. And once again it appears that they have no intention of addressing the root of the problem that this case highlights and that the Special Rapporteur's report stresses: that those responsible for human rights violations in East Timor are seldom held accountable and continue to enjoy virtual impunity[126]

If the response of the Indonesian government to the killings in November 1991 and January 1995 has thus far proved inadequate, the government has at least in these cases been forced to acknowledge that serious human rights violations have taken place. Its more common response, however, is either to deny them outright or to question the motivation and objectivity of the individual or organization making the allegations, rather than address the substance of those allegations. The government's response to the reports of the Special Rapporteurs on torture and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have already been outlined, but reports by international human rights monitoring bodies are also liable to be dismissed out of hand. Earlier this year the Indonesian government strongly rejected allegations of human rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor made in the US State Department's annual human rights report, arguing that such reports are consistently biased in tone[127] Meanwhile, the government dismissed a campaign launched in September 1994 by Amnesty International to highlight human rights violations in Indonesia and East Timor as being politically motivated[128] It even went as far as to accuse the organization of having engineered the asylum appeal of the seven East Timorese who sought protection in the Swedish and Finnish embassies in Jakarta in June 1993[129]

7. EAST TIMORESE IN EXILE

Some 20,000 East Timorese are estimated to live outside East Timor[130]130, the vast majority of them in Australia and sizeable numbers also in Portugal and Indonesia, mainly Java. (Because East Timor has not yet completed a process of decolonization Portugal accepts all East Timorese as being entitled to Portuguese citizenship.) This figure includes Timorese who fled before the Indonesian invasion, during the brief civil war of August 1975.

The ICRC began to facilitate departure from East Timor in 1979. Between then and the end of 1993 over 1,300 people have left under its auspices, approximately 800 of them under ICRC-facilitated family reunion and humanitarian programmes. The remaining 500 comprise former officials of the Portuguese administration in East Timor, the vast majority of them East Timorese, and their families who were repatriated to Portugal[131]

With no safe land borders, East Timorese at risk who decide to flee Indonesian-controlled territory must pay bribes to obtain passports and travel documents and then apply for asylum while abroad. The usual destination is Australia. Recent developments there indicate, however, that the Australian government is intending to tighten up its policies regarding East Timorese asylum seekers[132] It is currently dealing with hundreds of applications for political asylum from East Timorese who have entered Australia on tourist visas[133] The applications are politically embarrassing for the Australian government as they highlight the contradictions that appear to exist between its immigration policy and its foreign policy. On the one hand Australia's de jure recognition of Indonesia's sovereignty over East Timor should mean that all East Timorese are regarded as Indonesian citizens. However, the immigration department recently seemed to acknowledge that some East Timorese have access to Portuguese citizenship, in order to make the case that they should therefore seek asylum in Portugal rather than doing so in Australia[134] This would suggest an acceptance of the UN's position, that the process of decolonization from Portugal is incomplete[135]

7.1 Recent Cases of Successful Applications for Asylum

A second route for asylum seekers has also occasionally been used, that of seeking protection in foreign embassies in Indonesia, and in the past two years two groups of East Timorese have done so in cases that attracted considerable international publicity. All of the thirty-six East Timorese involved were granted political asylum by Portugal and were subsequently allowed to leave Indonesia. However, a cause for concern in both cases is the fact that the foreign governments involved were prepared to accept at face value, or in the case of the United States to at least consider seriously, Indonesian government assurances regarding the safety of the asylum seekers should they leave the embassies. This in spite of the government's past treatment of other asylum seekers who have remained in Indonesia and East Timor (see Section 7.2 below), and the fact that most of the asylum seekers involved had a history of persecution by those same authorities.

The first group, of seven, sought asylum at the Swedish and Finnish embassies in Jakarta in June 1993[136] and were finally allowed to leave the country six months later[137] Amnesty International followed the case closely throughout and was highly critical of the actions of both the Finnish and Swedish governments. The organization believes that they put the seven East Timorese asylum seekers in grave danger by failing to offer them adequate protection and instead either encouraging or pressuring them to leave the embassies on the basis of inadequate guarantees for their safety then being offered by the Indonesian authorities[138] Amnesty International points out that this was done even though there is evidence that all of seven had been victims of persecution and human rights violations by the Indonesian authorities in the recent past on account of their involvement in non-violent activities protesting against Indonesian rule in East Timor[139]

In the second case twenty-nine East Timorese, mainly students studying in universities in East Java and Bali, sought refuge in the United States embassy in Jakarta on 12 November 1994 during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting then being hosted by Indonesia[140] All twenty nine were allowed to leave for Portugal, where they had been granted asylum, in late November[141] Although there does not appear to have been any attempt by the United States authorities to force the asylum seekers to leave the embassy, it is nonetheless of concern that they did seem prepared to take assurances from the Indonesian government at face value. President Clinton, who arrived for the summit while the East Timorese were inside the embassy compound, announced that he felt 'comfortable' that the assurances he received from the Indonesian authorities concerning the future security of the asylum seekers if they remained in Indonesia would be honoured[142] As in the previous case the twenty-nine are all advocates of independence for East Timor and therefore at risk of human rights abuse by the authorities. Indeed, at least ten of them are said to have previously been detained, interrogated and tortured[143]

7.2 Cases of Failed Asylum Applications

All political opponents of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor are at risk of being subjected to a range of human rights violations by the Indonesian authorities. This risk is therefore likely to be heightened for politically active opponents of the government who highlight their opposition when they seek and fail to gain political asylum, regardless of any assurances from the Indonesian authorities that they will not be persecuted. A number of examples bear out these suppositions.

The most serious case in recent years of human rights violations being committed against failed East Timorese asylum seekers is that of Fernando de Araujo. He was one of seven East Timorese who sought protection in the embassies of Japan and the Vatican in June 1989 but who left the embassies after receiving official assurances from the Indonesian authorities that their human rights would be respected. Their treatment since then has proved the lack of worth of these assurances. In February 1991 a confidential military intelligence document revealed that five of the seven had been placed under permanent military surveillance because of their non-violent political and human rights activities. Fernando de Araujo meanwhile is an Amnesty International 'prisoner of conscience' currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for his part in organising a peaceful demonstration in Jakarta protesting against the killings in Dili in November 1991[144]

The treatment of failed non-East Timorese asylum seekers demonstrates that all political opponents of the Indonesian government, not just East Timorese, are at risk. Four Irian Jayans, all supporters of independence for Irian Jaya, were tried and sentenced to prison terms of between six and twelve years after they left the Consulate of Papua New Guinea in Jayapura, where they had sought protection in December 1989. Like the East Timorese six months earlier, they too received assurances from Indonesian government and military authorities before they left the consulate that they would not be arrested or prosecuted if they did so[145]

A less severe fate appears to have befallen the forty or so East Timorese who were planning to enter the United States embassy at the same time as the twenty-nine others in November 1994, but who were intercepted en route by the Indonesian authorities and prevented from doing so[146] Of the forty, four were briefly detained and the others were summoned for interrogation or 'guidance' by the local military. Some of them were reported to still be experiencing petty harassment as of January 1995[147] It is unclear at this stage whether the international attention that focused on them in the aftermath of the asylum bid is responsible for shielding them from further abuse thus far and whether, now the international publicity about them has faded, they may be at renewed risk of human rights violations.

The fate or whereabouts of the three East Timorese involved in the most recently reported failed asylum bid is unknown and there must therefore be considerable concern for their safety. Military officials confirmed in January 1995 that three East Timorese who were trying to flee to Australia were arrested in Irian Jaya in December 1994 after trying to obtain false passports at the immigration office. According to a military source, the three had come to Irian Jaya to take part in a football match but remained behind after the rest of the team returned to East Timor[148]

8. CONCLUSION

In 1995 Indonesia will celebrate, amid considerable fanfare, the fiftieth anniversary of its declaration of independence. It will no doubt be seeking, however, to play down another important anniversary during the year: the twentieth anniversary of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor. It is unlikely though that it will succeed. Three and a half years on from the November 1991 killings in Dili, East Timor is very much an international issue. If the Indonesian government is in any doubt about that it need only recall the distraction from the APEC summit in Jakarta in November 1994 caused by the East Timorese who entered the compound of the US embassy[149] or, more recently, the disruption caused to President Suharto's trip to Germany in April by pro-East Timorese protesters[150] There is no sign either of any success in the Indonesian government's attempts to stifle dissent in East Timor itself, nor any indication of a reduction in opposition to Indonesian rule either among East Timorese living in the territory or those in exile.

There are, however, signs of some acknowledgement within Indonesian political circles, among military and civilians alike, that there is a need for its policies in East Timor to be reviewed and possibly changed[151] Even so, it is debatable whether a substantial change in the government's position can be achieved for as long as the present political leadership is still in place. Certainly any discussions that are taking place in Jakarta about possible amendments to government policy have yet to be translated into positive practical steps being taken on the ground in East Timor.

1995 may nonetheless be a key year for the territory and the intra-East Timorese talks could yet prove to be the catalyst that is needed to bring about real change in East Timor. The Indonesian government is unlikely to concede anything lightly though and, if real progress is to be achieved, it is incumbent on the UN and individual governments to impress upon the Indonesian authorities that it will not be allowed to evade the issue. The coming months therefore will be a test both for the Indonesian government and the international community of their political will and determination to resolve the still vexed question of the future of East Timor.

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___,

Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, on his Mission to Indonesia and East Timor from 3 to 13 July 1994 (E/CN.4/1995/61/Add.1). Geneva: UNCHR. 1 November 1994.

___,

Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture (E/CN.4/1995/34). Geneva: UNCHR. 12 January 1995.

___,

Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (E/CN.4.1994/36). Geneva: UNCHR. 30 December 1994.

___,

Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (E/CN.4/1995/31). Geneva: UNCHR. 21 December 1994.

___,

Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. P. Kooijmans, Pursuant to Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1991/38. Addendum: Visit by the Special Rapporteur to Indonesia and East Timor (E/CN.4/1992/17/Add.1). Geneva: UNCHR. 8 January 1992.

___,

Situation in East Timor: Report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/1995/72). Geneva. UNCHR. 31 January 1995.

UN General Assembly.

Question of Timor (Resolution 3485 (XXX)). New York: United Nations. December 1975.

___,

Question of Timor (Resolution 31/53). New York: United Nations. April 1976.

___,

Question of Timor (Resolution 37/30). New York: United Nations, 23 November 1982.

___,

Question of East Timor: Progress Report of the Secretary General (A/48/418). New York: United Nations. 20 September 1993.

___,

Question of East Timor: Progress Report of the Secretary General (A/49/391). New York: United Nations. 16 September 1994.

UN Press Release,

'Parties agree to continue efforts towards internationally accepted settlement on question of East Timor at talks convened by Secretary General' (SG/SM/5519). 9 January 1995.

UN Security Council.

The Situation in Timor (S/RES/384 (1975). New York: United Nations. 22 December 1975.

UN Security Council.

The Situation in Timor (S/RES/389 (1976). New York: United Nations. 22 April 1975.

Van Klinken, Gerry.

'The contemporary roots of East Timorese resistance, and prospects for peace' [electronic format] to be published in Saldanha, João Mariano de Sousa (ed.) Essays in the Political Economy of East Timor. Darwin: CSEAS, Northern Territory University. Fc. June 1995.

 



[1] Estimates of the number of people killed in November 1991 vary. The Indonesian government admits to only 19 deaths, but the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has received figures ranging from 150 to 400. See UN Commission on Human Rights, Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, on his Mission to Indonesia and East Timor from 3 to 13 July 1994 (E/CN.4/1995/61/Add.1), (Geneva: UNCHR, 1 November 1994), paragraph 21.

For this report Amnesty International's estimate of up to 270 killed will be used. See Amnesty International, Power and Impunity: Human Rights under the New Order, (London: Amnesty International, September 1994), p. 50.

[2] Section 2 of this report draws on the following sources: G. J. Aditjondro, In the Shadow of Mount Ramelau: the Impact of the Occupation of East Timor, (Leiden: Indonesian Documentation and Information Centre, 1994); Amnesty International, East Timor: Violations of Human Rights (ASA 21/16/85), (London: Amnesty International, 1985); Asia Watch, Human Rights in Indonesia and East Timor, (New York: Asia Watch, March 1989); Catholic Institute for International Relations, East Timor: an International Responsibility, (London: CIIR, April 1992); and John Taylor, Indonesia's Forgotten War, (London: Zed Books, 1991), chapters 3, 4 and 5.

[3] Manifesto of the Associacão Popular Democratica Timorense, Dili, 27 May 1974, cited in Aditjondro, In the Shadow of Mount Ramelau. Leiden, 1994, p. 8.

 

 

[5]. Taylor, Indonesia's Forgotten War, p. 29, citing letter from Foreign Minister Adam Malik in the possession of José Ramos Horta, dated 17 June 1974.

[6]. Amnesty International, East Timor: Violations of Human Rights, p. 3.

[7]. Taylor, Indonesia's Forgotten War, p. 70.

[8]. Carmel Budiardjo and Liem Soei Liong, The War Against East Timor, (London: Zed Books, 1984), pp. 15 and 39.

[9]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, paragraph 17.

[10]. Ibid.

[11]. Amnesty International, Urgent Action 366/92 (ASA 21/17/92), London: Amnesty International, 23 November 1992.

[12]. Reuters, 'Armed clash preceded East Timor killings', 14 March 1995.

[13]. Indonesian Observer, 'Troops in E. Timor to remain at present strength', 7 October 1994.

[14]. See for example paragraph 3 of a note verbale dated 12 July 1994 from the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations to the UN Secretary General, cited in UN Commission on Human Rights, Situation in East Timor: Report of the Secretary-General (E/CN.4/1995/72), (Geneva: UNCHR, 31 January 1995), p. 6.

 

[16]. Taylor, Indonesia's Forgotten War, p. 195.

[17]. These cases are cited in Herb Feith, The East Timor Issue Since the Capture of Xanana Gusmão, (Melbourne: East Timor Talks Campaign, December 1993), p. 5.

[18]. For further details see Human Rights Watch/Asia, The Limits of Openness: Human Rights in Indonesia and East Timor, (New York: Human Rights Watch/Asia, September 1994), p.24.

[19]. Reuters, 'East Timor: protests continue in East Timor capital', 15 November 1995.

[20]. Associated Press, 'East Timorese demonstrators seized at university', 9 January 1995.

[21]. Catholic Institute for International Relations, East Timor, p. 17.

[22]. See for example Taylor, Indonesia's Forgotten War, pp. 153-157 and Catholic Institute for International Relations, Timor Link, (London: CIIR, February 1992), p. 7.

[23]. Ibid.

[24]. Gerry van Klinken, 'The contemporary roots of East Timorese resistance, and prospects for peace [electronic format] to be published in João Mariano de Sousa Saldanha (ed.) Essays in the Political Economy of East Timor, (Darwin: CSEAS, Northern Territory University, fc. June 1995).

 

[26]. Publico [Lisbon], 'Timorese resistance: I Conference reinforces unity', 1 April 1995 [Greennet].

[27]. The outline of the peace plan is given in National Council for Maubere Resistance, Statement by José Ramos-Horta on behalf of the National Council of Maubere Resistance - CNRM - to the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the European Parliament, (Brussels: National Council for Maubere Resistance, 23 April 1992).

[28]. Van Klinken, 'The contemporary roots of East Timorese resistance'.

[29]. UN General Assembly, Question of Timor (Resolution 3485 (XXX)), New York: United Nations, December 1975.

 

[31]. UN Security Council, The Situation in Timor (S/RES/389 (1976)), New York: United Nations, 22 April 1975.

[32]. UN General Assembly, Question of Timor (Resolution 31/53), (New York: United Nations, April 1976).

[33]. UN General Assembly, Question of Timor, (Resolution 37/30), (New York: United Nations, 23 November 1982).

[34]. UN Commission on Human Rights, 'Statement by the Chairman: Situation on Human Rights in East Timor', in UN Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Forty-Eighth Session (27 January-11 March 1992) (Economic and Social Council, Official Records, 1992, Supplement No.2, E/1992/22 or E/CN.4/1992/84). (New York: United Nations, 1992).

[35]. UN Commission on Human Rights, '1993/97: Situation in East Timor', in UN Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Forty-Ninth Seddion (1 February - 12 March 1993) (Economic and Social Council, Official Records, 1993. Supplement No.3, E/1993/23 or E/CN.4/1993/122), (New York: United Nations, 1993).

 

[37]. UN Commission on Human Rights, 'Statement by the Chairman: Situation on Human Rights in East Timor', in UN Commission on Human Rights. Report on the Fifieth Session (31 January - 6 March 1994) (Economic and Social Council, Official Records, 1994, Supplement No. 4, E/1994/24 or E/CN.4/1994/132) (New York and Geneva: United Nations, 1994).

[38]. Amnesty International, Indonesia and East Timor: Human Rights in 1994: a Summary (ASA 21/03/95), (London: Amnesty International, January 1995), p. 9, citing a letter dated 17 October 1994 from the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights.

[39]. UN Commission on Human Rights, 'Statement by the Chairman: Situation on Human Rights in East Timor', in UN Commission on Human Rights, Draft Report on the Fifty-First Session (E/CN.4/1995/L.10/Add.12) (Geneva: Economic and Social Council, 10 March 1995). [Full report to be published Summer 1995.]

 

[41]. See UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture (E/CN.4/1995/34), (Geneva: UNCHR, 12 January 1995); UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (E/CN.4.1994/36), (Geneva: UNCHR, 30 December 1994); and UN Commission on Human Rights, Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye.

[42]. UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (E/CN.4/1995/31), (Geneva: UNCHR, 21 December 1994), paragraph 19.

[43]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture, paragraph 392.

[44]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, paragraph 64(d) and UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, paragraph 227.

[45]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. P. Kooijmans, Pursuant to Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1991/38. Addendum: Visit by the Special Rapporteur to Indonesia and East Timor (E/CN.4/1992/17/Add.1), (Geneva: UNCHR, 8 January 1992), paragraphs 53 and 56.

[46]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, paragraph 9.

[47]. Ibid, paragraph 6.

[48]. UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, paragraph 20.

[49]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. P. Kooijmans, paragraph 73.

[50]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, paragraphs 48(d) and 74.

[51]. An analysis of the Indonesian Human Rights Commission, and its flaws, is contained in Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, (New York: Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, July 1993).

[52]. Government of Indonesia. Comments on the Report by the Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions on his Mission to Jakarta and East Timor from 3-13 July 1994. Geneva [n.p.], January 1995.

[53]. See UN Commission on Human Rights, Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. P. Kooijmans, paragraph 11.

[54]. UN General Assembly, Question of East Timor, (Resolution 37/30).

[55]. UN Commission on Human Rights, Situation in East Timor (E/CN.4/1995/72), paragraph 6.

 

[57]. UN Press Release, 'Parties agree to continue efforts towards internationally accepted settlement on Question of East Timor at talks convened by Secretary General' (SG/SM/5519), 9 January 1995.

 

 

[60]. Ibid.

 

[62]. UN General Assembly, Question of East Timor: Progress Report of the Secretary General (A/48/418), (New York, United Nations, 20 September 1993), paragraphs 1 and 2.

[63]. UN General Assembly, Question of East Timor: Progress Report of the Secretary General (A/49/391), (New York: United Nations, 16 September 1994), paragraph 3.

 

[65]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Situation in East Timor (E/CN.4/1995/72), paragraph l7.

 

[67]. Ibid, paragraph 12.

[68]. National Council of Maubere Resistance, Latest East Timor Manoevres

[69]. Agence France Presse, 'Tripartite UN talks on East Timor postponed', 12 April 1995.

[70]. UN Press Release, 'Parties agree', paragraph 3.

[71]. National Council of Maubere Resistance, Latest East Timor Manoevres.

[72]. Reuters, 'Indonesia to go ahead with UN East Timor talks', 23 March 1995.

[73]. Ibid.

[74]. Publico [Lisbon], 'Indonesia is not interested in inter-Timorese talks', 27 March 1995 [Greennet].

[75]. Ibid.

[76]. Publico [Lisbon], 'Timor: talks in jeopardy', 11 March 1995 [Greennet].

[77]. See for example Jakarta Post, 'UN details on Timor talks still vague', 27 February 1995 and Jakarta Post, 'Reconciliation paves way for united E. Timor', 10 October 1994.

 

[79]. Jakarta Post, 'Reconciliation paves way for united E. Timor', 10 October 1994.

 

 

[82]. UN Commission on Human Rights, Situation in East Timor (E/CN.4/1995/72), paragraph 6.

[83]. UN General Assembly, Question of East Timor (A/48/418), paragraph 5.

[84]. See for example National Council for Maubere Resistance, Statement by José Ramos-Horta; and National Council of Maubere Resistance, Latest East Timor Manoevres.

[85]. See for example Mgr. Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, The Document of the East Timor Catholic Church on East Timor Nowadays, (Dili: [n.p.], 31 July 1994).

[86]. The U.S. government's stance was reiterated recently during the visit to Indoneisa and East Timor by the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, John Shattuck. See Reuters, ' U.S. rights official seeks troop cuts in Timor', 20 April 1995.

[87]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, paragraph 83.

[88]. Ibid. paragraph 84(a) and (b).

[89]. It was raised for example during the October 1994 meeting with the Indonesian Foreign Minister; see National Council of Maubere Resistance, Statement on Meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister, (New York: National Council of Maubere Resistance, 6 October 1994).

Although the CNRM has urged that Gusmão attend the talks he has not been issued with an invitation. Nonetheless Gusmão remains closely involved, both through communications with the CNRM and through meetings with representatives of the UN Secretary General in Jakarta's Cipinang Prison, where he is serving his 20 year sentence.

[90]. Reuters, 'Indonesian minister meets E. Timor resistance leader', 7 October 1994.

[91]. Joint Declaration of the Second Reconciliation Meeting

[92]. For further details see National Council for Maubere Resistance, Statement by José Ramos-Horta.

[93]. van Klinken, 'The contemporary roots of East Timorese resistance'.

[94]. Agence France Presse, 'Home Minister rules out special status for East Timor', 17 March 1995.

[95]. Jakarta Post, 'New approach in East Timor needed', 15 March 1995.

[96]. Human Rights Watch/Asia, The Limits of Openness, p. 22.

[97]. See for example Human Rights Watch/Asia, Deteriorating Human Rights in East Timor, p. 3, quoting the transcription of a report by Voice of America correspondent Dan Robinson from Dili, 20 November 1994.

[98]. Reuters, 'Armed clash preceded East Timor killings', 14 March 1995.

[99]. Jakarta Post, 'E. Timor expels more foreign journalists', 3 December 1994.

[100]. Reuters, 'East Timorese in protest ahead of Geneva talks', 9 January 1995.

[101]. Human Rights Watch/Asia, The Limits of Openness, p. 34. Human Rights Watch/Asia refers to one very brief exception to this denial of access, which occurred in March 1993 when representatives of Human Rights Watch/Asia and the International Commission of Jurists were permitted to attend selected sessions of Xanana Gusmão's trial.

[102]. International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1993, (Geneva: ICRC, 1994), p. 133.

[103]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, paragraph 76.

[104]. Amnesty International, Power and Impunity, p. 85.

[105]. Feith, The East Timor Issue, p. 5.

 

 

[108]. Amnesty International, Indonesia and East Timor: Power and Impunity, p. 70.

[109]. Human Rights Watch/Asia, The Limits of Openness, p. 21.

[110]. Human Rights Watch/Asia, Deteriorating Human Rights in East Timor, p. 1, and Amnesty International, East Timor: Continuing Human Rights Violations, p. 1.

[111]. Reuters, 'East Timorese complain of new terror wave', 10 February 1995.

[112]. Reuters, 'East Timor quieter, arrests said continuing', 17 February 1995.

[113]. Reuters, 'East Timor villages said under Ninja seige', 7 March 1995.

[114]. ABC Radio [Sydney], 14 March 1995 [Greennet].

[115]. Reuters, 'East Timorese battered by stop-start peace moves', 21 April 1995.

[116]. Amnesty International Report 1994 (POL 10/02/94). (London: Amnesty International, 1995), p. 162.

[117]. For further details see the sources cited in footnote 104.

[118]. UN Commission on Human Rights. Report by the Special Rapporteur, Mr Bacre Waly Ndiaye, paragraph 48(d).

[119]. Ibid., paragraph 70(g).

 

[121]. Indonesian Observer, 'Security Officers shoot dead six Fretilin followers', 14 January 1995.

[122]. Indonesian Observer, 'Rights commission launches probe into Liquiça incident - U.S. Embassy expresses concern', 9 February 1995.

[123]. Reuters, 'Indonesia military to charge two over killing', 3 April 1995.

[124]. Reuters 'Indonesian army blamed for January Timor killings', 1 March 1995.

[125]. Ibid.

 

[127]. Indonesian Observer, 'Alatas rejects US human rights criticism', 3 February 1995.

[128]. Amnesty International, Indonesia and East Timor: Human Rights in 1994, p. 8.

[129]. Amnesty International, Indonesia/East Timor: Seven East Timorese Still in Danger, (London: Amnesty International, 5 July 1993), p. 7.

[130]. David Scott, Herb Feith and Pat Walsh, East Timor: Towards a Just Peace in the 1990s, (Melbourne: Australian Council for Overseas Aid, 1991), p. 8.

[131]. International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Reports 1979 - 1993, (Geneva: ICRC, 1980 - 1994)

[132]. Reuters, 'Australia rejects Timorese asylum requests', 18 April 1995.

[133]. Ibid.

 

[135]. The Australian government is also facing another problem over its de jure recognition of Indonesia's annexation of East Timor, this time through a case being brought against it by Portugal at the International Court of Justice. The case, which began being heard in January 1995, challenges the validity of a treaty - the 'Timor Gap Zone of Cooperation Treaty' - signed by Australia and Indonesia in 1989 concerning the joint development of oil and gas reserves in the Timor sea. Portugal is challenging Australia's right to enter into the treaty with Indonesia on the grounds that because the UN recognises Portugal and not Indonesia as the administering power any negotiations should have been between Australia and Portugal. In signing the agreement, Portugal claims, Australia has ignored East Timor's right to self-determination. (Portugal cannot bring the case against Indonesia because Indonesia does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICJ.) A judgment is unlikely until at least late 1995.

[136]. Associated Press, 'Seven East Timorese seek asylum at Swedish, Finnish embassies in Indonesia', 23 June 1994.

[137]. Amnesty International Report 1994, p. 162.

 

[139]. Ibid., p. 2.

 

[141]. Human Rights Watch/Asia, Deteriorating Human Rights in East Timor, p. 2.

[142]. Reuters, 'Clinton says protesters safe from revenge', 14 November 1994.

[143]. Far Eastern Economic Review, 'Pandora's box', 24 November 1994, p. 16.

[144]. The details contained in this paragraph come from Amnesty International, Indonesia and East Timor: Seven East Timorese Still in Danger, pp. 5-6.

[145]. Ibid., p. 6.

 

[147]. Ibid.

[148]. Indonesian Observer, 'Three East Timorese arrested with false identity cards', 6 January 1995.

 

[150]. Radio Netherlands [Amsterdam], 11 April 1995 [Greennet].

[151]. Far Eastern Economic Review, McBeth, John, 'Change in the wind: Jakarta may be rethinking its Timor policy', 6 October 1994, pp. 26-28.

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