November 2016 - On the 25th anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) urges the international community to commit to ending impunity for the human rights crimes committed during the occupation of Timor-Leste.
"The victims of the Santa Cruz massacre have waited too long for justice," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. “Those responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes during Indonesia’s illegal occupation need to be held accountable for their crimes.”
"We believed that an international tribunal is needed to credibly try those responsible for the Santa Cruz massacre and other crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Indonesia during its illegal occupation of Timor-Leste," Miller added.
On November 12, 1991, U.S.-armed Indonesian troops opened fire on a peaceful pro-independence demonstration calling for self-determination and protesting atrocities committed by the Indonesian military. More than 271 East Timorese were killed or died soon after and an equal number disappeared and are believed to be dead.
The 1991 massacre -- witnessed and filmed by foreign journalists -- was a major turning point in Timor-Leste's struggle for liberation.
During more than two decades of U.S.-backed occupation, Indonesian soldiers committed serious crimes with impunity, taking as many as 184,000 Timorese lives and torturing, raping, and displacing countless others. Timor-Leste became independent in 2002.
"The East Timorese people will need to know the where the bodies of their relatives and friends are," said Miller. "Impunity for decades of systematic Indonesian military and police atrocities prevents both Timor-Leste and Indonesia from consolidating the rule of law as they transition from military dictatorship to democracy."
While some deeply flawed processes have prosecuted some involved in crimes committed in 1999, those responsible for giving the orders to torture, rape, and kill have yet to be brought to justice. Those from countries such as the United States, Britain, and Australia that actively aided in these crimes by providing weapons, training, and political support have yet to be held accountable.
ETAN continues to call on President Joko Widodo to fulfill his campaign promise to address human rights violations committed during and after the Suharto dictatorship, including by establishing credible judicial processes to investigate killings like the Santa Cruz massacre.
For more on the Santa Cruz massacre see ETAN’s backgrounder here: http://etan.org/factsheets/santa_cruz.htm
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) was founded in 199 following the Santa Cruz massacre. ETAN supports democracy, human rights and justice in Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia. Website: www.etan.org Twitter: @etan009.