Sat, 01 Apr 2000

U.S. rights groups file lawsuit against TNI general

JAKARTA (JP): Lt. Gen. Johny Lumintang was notified of a lawsuit filed against him by two human rights groups in the United States representing victims of atrocities committed in East Timor last year, a New York-based human rights group said on Friday.

The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) said in a media release that Johny, who was the deputy Army chief when the violence broke out, received the notice late Thursday at the Dulles International Airport in Washington.

Johny, who is now the governor of the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas), was in Washington for a conference at the invitation of the U.S.-Indonesian Society.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and James Klimaski on behalf of several victims of the East Timor mayhem.

ETAN spokesman John Miller said the suit was necessary because "the United Nations has put an international tribunal on hold and Indonesia's attorney general plans to focus his efforts on only a few of the more widely publicized incidents and Indonesian military commanders allegedly involved in them."

The plaintiffs are three East Timorese: a mother whose son was killed, a man who had his foot amputated after being shot and a man whose father was injured and brother murdered.

ETAN said the plaintiffs wished to remain anonymous at this time because East Timor remains subject to Indonesian military and militia attacks.

Violence ravaged East Timor after the Aug. 30 self- determination ballot.

Legal papers filed in court cited a telegram signed by Johny and sent to former Udayana military commander overseeing security in East Timor Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri and other commanders just hours before the agreement to conduct the ballot was signed at the United Nations on May 5.

The telegram, ETAN said, ordered commanders to plan a crackdown should the East Timorese vote in favor of independence. This was to include "a plan to move to the rear and evacuate if the second option is chosen".

The suit also cited a June 1999 army manual, also signed by Johny, which stated that the Army's Kopassus intelligence operatives were to be trained in propaganda, kidnapping, terror, agitation, sabotage, infiltration, undercover operations, wire- tapping and photographic intelligence.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, Adm. Dennis Cutler Blair, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, said Friday that military ties between the United States and Indonesia could only be resumed if those responsible in the East Timor violence were brought to justice.

"We need to see progress in finding who was responsible for the actions following the referendum," Blair, who was scheduled to visit Jakarta next week, was quoted by AP as saying.

Blair last visited Jakarta in early September for just a few hours when he met with then military chief Gen. Wiranto to inform him that military ties between the two countries had been cut.

"My visit (next week) signifies that we are at least within talking range, so some progress has been definitely made," he said. (byg)