Justice For East Timor In Our Time?

Your timeline in "Showdown in Jakarta" (Asian Business, Feb. 14) describes "enraged" soldiers and militia running "amok" destroying East Timor last September. But recent reports by U.N. and Indonesian commissions of inquiry make it clear that the violence was a planned effort to overturn the U.N. referendum.

Indonesia's willingness to name top generals as responsible is a beginning, but there is no guarantee that full-scale prosecutions will happen, much less meet international standards. After all, despite repeated pledges, Indonesia has yet to rein in its armed forces and their militia allies who continue to block the return of East Timorese refugees.

President Abdurrahman Wahid's promise to pardon General Wiranto doesn't inspire much confidence, either. Should Indonesia's efforts at prosecution collapse, justice for the East Timorese will have been delayed and likely denied.

The military's human-rights abuses in East Timor were central to a systematic effort to undermine an internationally sanctioned plebiscite. East Timorese, driven from their communities with their country left in ruins, must actively participate in bringing those responsible to justice. A U.N. Human Rights Commission investigation recommends a joint Indonesian, East Timorese, and international tribunal under U.N. auspices. This would ensure that all the main parties are represented.

John M. Miller

East Timor Action Network/U.S.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

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