By Patricia Nunan
January 31, 2000
Indonesian human-rights investigators say former Minister of Defense and Armed Forces chief General Wiranto is among six commanders responsible for the bloodshed that erupted in East Timor after an independence vote in September.
Indonesian human-rights investigators say General Wiranto was "fully conscious" of the violence that was carried out in East Timor before and after the September independence ballot. They said as head of the Armed Forces at the time General Wiranto bears the responsibility for the bloodshed.
The team from Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights for East Timor recommended the country's Attorney General further investigate General Wiranto's actions. The team also recommended investigation of five other top military commanders.
General Wiranto was Indonesia's Armed Forces chief and Minister of Defense during the East Timor vote on whether the territory should remain part of Indonesia.
Violence erupted after the independence vote was announced. Armed anti-independence militia groups allegedly supported by the Indonesian military went on a campaign of terror, killing hundreds of people, forcing hundreds-of-thousands to flee, and burning hundreds of buildings and homes.
The inquiry also revealed evidence of sexual crimes against women in East Timor and in refugee camps in neighboring West Timor. Investigators also found evidence of people being tortured before they were killed, and attempts to destroy evidence of mass graves.
Attorney General Marzuki Darusman says despite the findings, it would be premature to suggest that General Wiranto would leave his cabinet position as Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs.
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"We are of course going out from the universal principal of the presumption of innocence. Therefore, if and when, the requirement arises to summon General Wiranto for further investigations, it would be done in a manner that would facilitate the Attorney General's office to take such action. Whether or not that would entail General Wiranto stepping out of the presidential cabinet is entirely the prerogative of the president."
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Other military commanders to be further investigated include Indonesia's head of military intelligence, General Zacky Anwar Makarim, and General Kiki Syahnakri, military liaison between Indonesia and international peacekeeping troops deployed in East Timor.
The release of Indonesia's own human rights report on East Timor comes a day ahead of the formal release of a report prepared by U-N investigators.
U-N sources say the report also blames the Indonesian military for the humanitarian disaster in East Timor. U-N investigators want the Security Council to form an international human-rights tribunal to bring to justice those responsible for the bloodshed.
Indonesia's Foreign Minister has rejected the U-N findings. Alwi Shihab says it would be completely unacceptable for an international court to consider human-rights abuses in East Timor, because at the time East Timor was a part of Indonesia.
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