Sat, 09 Oct 1999

East Timor commission of inquiry announced

JAKARTA (JP): The National Commission on Human Rights announced here on Friday its nine-member commission of inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in East Timor.

Rights body chairman Marzuki Darusman, who is also a member of the East Timor commission, announced the lineup at a media conference. The commission includes rights body members Albert Hasibuan, Koesparmono Irsan, Asmara Nababan and H.S. Dillon, noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, women's rights activist Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, consumer protection activist Zoemrotin K. Susilo and leading rights activist Munir of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence.

Marzuki said the team, which is scheduled to complete its work by the end of the year, was expected to visit East Timor and the neighboring East Nusa Tenggara early next week.

"We will not hesitate to announce the military's noninvolvement in the violence if we do find evidence on the ground to support that allegation," Marzuki said.

Violence erupted in East Timor following the announcement of the results of the Aug. 30 referendum that resulted in an overwhelming vote against wide-ranging autonomy under Indonesia.

Hundreds of people are believed to have been killed and more than 200,000 East Timorese have allegedly been driven from their homes to East Nusa Tenggara.

Rights groups claim pro-Jakarta militias and elements of the Indonesian Military were involved in the violence.

Marzuki said the commission would focus its investigation on the alleged human rights abuses which took place in the wake of the historic ballot.

"We are going to verify whether it is true that there were mass killings, torture, forced displacements, crimes against women and mass destruction in the territory," Marzuki said.

Marzuki, who is also a Golkar Party deputy chairman, said the team would be assisted by a number of forensic experts from the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.

"Their presence will be crucial as they have the expertise to verify reports of gross violations of human rights in East Timor," Marzuki said.

He said if the commission found evidence of rights abuses an ad hoc committee would be established to prosecute the perpetrators in a national human rights tribunal.

Marzuki was referring to the decision in Jakarta last week to establish a national human rights tribunal following the rejection of an international commission of inquiry into East Timor. (byg)