After 24 years of systematic violations under a veil of impunity, Reformasi in Indonesia provided an opportunity to determine East Timor’s status through a referendum held by the United Nations in 1999. The referendum resulted in the majority of Timorese people choosing independence in October 1999 with the United Nations taking over as interim administrator of the territory.
UN and Timorese investigators and prosecutors conducted investigations to the 1999 crimes, resulting in more than 300 persons indicted under the Serious Crimes regime, including senior Indonesian military commanders and Timorese militia leaders. In 2002, working in parallel with the serious crimes process, a truth and reconciliation commission (CAVR) was established to investigate human rights violations that took place between 1975-1999, producing a final report entitled “Chega!” (Enough, Never Again) that documented a pattern of systematic abuse and made comprehensive recommendations. Immediately following the CAVR, the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia established the bi-lateral commission for truth and friendship (CTF, 2005-2008). This commission was tasked to “seek the conclusive truth” about the crimes committed in 1999 by reviewing the work of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms that preceded it. In 2008, the CTF handed over its findings and recommendations to the two Presidents, reaffirming CAVR’s findings that crimes against humanity took place in 1999.
In Timor-Leste, AJAR works with its sister organization, Associacaon Chega! Ba Ita (ACBIT) to engage members of parliament and senior government officials to implement the recommendations of two truth commissions, empower victim’s organizations, educate the Timorese public on the legacy of the past and advocate for the protection of human rights to ensure a better future. In addition, AJAR and ACBIT continue to push for policies addressing the urgent needs of women victims. AJAR is also providing technical assistance to civil society groups in Timor-Leste, including the National Victim’s Association. In this capacity, AJAR has assisted organizations in developing a simple financial management guideline, easy methods for data gathering and management on various issues, and provided support for the development of training manuals and participatory facilitation methods.
Key activities include:
- AJAR’s sister organization in Timor Leste, Associacaon Chega Ba Ita (ACBIT), launched a child-friendly illustrated version of the country’s truth commission report, CAVR, with the Minister of Education in Dili. The five book series, translated into Portuguese, summarizes the findings of the 2000 paged report narrated through the voices of a Timorese family. This publication, requested by teachers, complements the Tetun language version that has been distributed to every high school around the country in 2010. ACBIT is also bringing a mobile exhibition on the CAVR to the districts, involving young people in an interactive outreach program. For more information on ACBIT’s work, click here.
- On 10 June 2013, AJAR and the National Victim’s Association (NVA) commemorated 23 years since the Marabia incident. According to the CAVR report, in response to the killing of a handful of soldiers and the confiscation of their arms by rebel forces in 1980, Indonesian security forces killed and disappeared approximately 120 persons, and detained 400-500 civilians from around Dili, many of whom were eventually brought to the prison island of Atauro, north of Dili.