A Statement from Women's Studies Scholars, Women Leaders and Feminist Organizations
"An International Tribunal is the most pressing demand in the interests of justice. Of all the victims of Indonesian military violence the greatest suffering was borne by women, who up to this time, have not met with the justice they hoped for." from a statement by the East Timorese Women's Network, June 2001
We join with our East Timorese sisters in calling for an international tribunal for East Timor.
We urge the United Nations Security Council to establish an international tribunal for East Timor without delay. The East Timorese people have waited far too long for the architects and perpetrators of the atrocities committed against them to be brought to justice. Over two years have passed since the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor called for an international human rights tribunal. During that time, it has become clear that only an international tribunal can hold accountable the high-ranking Indonesian military, police and government officials most responsible for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.
When Indonesia illegally invaded and occupied East Timor in 1975, it began a genocidal campaign that lasted nearly a quarter-century. During the first five years of the occupation, some 200,000 people - one-third of the pre-invasion population - were killed. The occupation specifically targeted women in several ways, including the following:
- Rape and "forced marriage" to military personnel were used to terrorize and control East Timorese women, to punish pro-independence families, and to reward Indonesian soldiers. A study of gender violence in 1999 by the Communication Forum for East Timorese Women (FOKUPERS) found many acts of rape were "planned, organized, and sustained - militia and soldiers conniving together to abduct women and share them like chattel; or, in some cases, forcibly taking women across the border into [Indonesian] West Timor where the women were raped daily and made to perform household chores." Tragically, the women among the estimated 80,000 East Timorese still in Indonesian refugee camps remain vulnerable to sexual assault by militia and military members.
- East Timorese women were forcibly sterilized by the Indonesian military under the guise of "family planning". It is estimated that tens of thousands of women were injected with contraceptives without their consent - sometimes even without their knowledge - and never with adequate follow-up care.
- An unknown number of East Timorese children were kidnapped and raised in Indonesia as Indonesian citizens, a practice that continues today. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has confirmed 240 cases of East Timorese children being taken from their parents by militia in Indonesian refugee camps since 1999; according to the UN, as many as 2,000 children may be held captive currently.
In the face of such suffering, it is truly reprehensible that the world community has knowingly placed its faith in an unacceptable alternative to an international tribunal - the Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor. Due to its many flaws, the Indonesian court will not adequately address cases of gender violence and the systematic targeting of women and children, among other serious crimes.
International justice was significantly advanced last year by the decision of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to classify rape as a crime against humanity. But the world community cannot stop there. Atrocities committed against the people of East Timor deserve no less attention than those committed against peoples of other nations. An international tribunal for East Timor, with a mandate covering the entire Indonesian occupation, must be established now to redress the most heinous crimes committed against the women and men of East Timor. Otherwise, international justice will appear weak and conditional, rule of law will be undermined, and the people of the world's newest nation will have good reason to lose faith in the world community.
see also Media Release on statement
see also Women and East Timor
see also Human Rights and Justice
Signatures as of May 12, 2002
Organizations and institutions listed are for identification purposes only.
| Abigail Abrash |
Executive Committee, Indonesia Human Rights Network
and Board of Directors, Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy
Sima Aprahamian, Ph.D.
U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin
Rosalyn Baxandall Professor, American Studies
Oona Channa Besman
Steve Grubman Black, Ph.D.
Diane E. Boyd
Christina Brinkley, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Cannon, PhD
Cenacle Sisters of North America
Reverend John Chamberlin
Nancy Cohen, Ph.D.
Lori A. Creed
Agnes B. Curry, Ph.D.
Jennifer L. Cushman
Tahnya Donaghy, PhD
Jill C. Fink
Elizabeth Flanagan, M.S.
Mindy Fried, Ph.D.
Gloria Gay, MSW, LSW
Anna Gramberg, PhD
Rhonda Hammer, PhD
Susan Heald, Ph.D.
Ana Cecilia Jimen ez
Janet Kalven Grail
Sarah Kelser Women's and Gender Studies Program, American University
Chung Hyun Kyung Associate Professor of Ecumenical Theology, Union Theological Seminary New York, NY
U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee
U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Helena M. Medeiros
Colette Morrow, Ph.D.
| Yolanda T. Moses |
Co-Director, Natural Initiative for Women in Higher Education
Eileen Noyes-Verchereau, M.Div.
Sister Dianna Ortiz
Usha Pillai, Ph.D.
Georgia Lee Pinkel
Ana Esther Posada
Carol Richards, Ph.D.
Birgit Clari Schùler
Kayann Short, Ph.D.
Malama Tafuna'i, M.D.
Shungu M. Tundanonga-Dikunda, Ph.D.