Govt Calls for UN Boycott Demand to Be Ignored

JAKARTA ~ Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda has called on a commission set up to examine violence surrounding East Timor’s 1999 independence vote to ignore a UN boycott threat, a report said.

The United Nations warned last week that it would not send any officials to testify to the Indonesia-East Timor Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) unless it changes its terms of reference to disallow it to recommend amnesties.

“Whatever the world says, including the United Nations, let them do so … Just be self-confident about our own process, because the governments of both countries consistently support the commission,” Wirayuda said in Manila, according to Kompas newspaper.

East Timor’s acting prime minister Estanislau da Silva also said separately that the commission had the support of both governments.

“Therefore this commission should continue to move forward,” da Silva told AFP in Dili.

Wirayuda said that the UN had offered no alternative solution to the CTF and also had an interest in its officials not testifying.

“They would not want to have what is being called fraud by UNAMET to be uncovered,” the minister said, referring to the UN body that organised the independence referendum in East Timor.

Indonesia has long accused UN workers of favoring pro-independence supporters during the ballot and instigating some electoral fraud to help them.

East Timor and Indonesia, which ruled the former Portuguese colony for 24 years, established the CTF in 2005. The commission is aimed at reconciliation rather than prosecuting those suspected of perpetrating crimes.

Indonesian CTF chairman Benjamin Mangkudilaga said on Monday that he did not believe the UN stance would affect the commission.

The world body is demanding that the commission amend its terms of reference to state that it has no authority to recommend amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or gross violations of human rights.

The East Timorese voted overwhelmingly in favour of breaking away from Indonesia, but the ballot triggered an orgy of violence blamed on militias backed by the Indonesian military.

Some 1,400 people were killed and much of the nation’s already paltry infrastructure deliberately destroyed.

East Timor’s leaders have taken a largely conciliatory stance towards Indonesia since then, arguing that good relations with its giant and more powerful neighbor are crucial to its future.

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