Jakarta, 15 July 2019 – On 15 July 2008, the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) Indonesia–Timor-Leste submitted its final report, ‘Through Memories Towards Hope’, to the governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Recommendations included reparations for victims. Regarding the thousands of East Timorese children (now adults) forcibly taken from their families to Indonesia from 1975–99, the CTF recommended that Indonesia and Timor-Leste take action to identify the location of the children and reunite them with their families in Timor-Leste. The forced separation of children from their families is a violation of both Geneva Convention IV (1949) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
These stolen children, now adults, have adapted to the culture, language and religion of the Indonesian regions where they were raised. Bearing new names, they still have scraps of memory from their childhoods: a mountain view, the name of their village or of their parents. At the same time, the families of stolen Timorese children continue to search for them.
In 2011, the Indonesian President issued Decree No. 72/2011 to establish an action plan for implementation of the CTF recommendations that included a recommendation for a Commission for the Disappeared and a commitment to an annual Senior Official Meeting (SOM). Despite this decree, there has been no SOM for the past two years and no significant progress towards establishing a Commission for the Disappeared. We urge newly re-elected President Joko Widodo, who issued Decree No 72/2011, to take concrete steps to facilitate its implementation as a matter of urgency.
Independent initiatives, led by a civil society working group since 2013, have included documenting 137 stories from “stolen children” and family reunions in Timor-Leste for 67 of the “children”. These reunification efforts have received support from Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the Provedor’s Office for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) in Timor-Leste, and other ministries from both countries. However, hundreds more remain separated from their families, having lost contact with them for decades.
As such, the following actions are urgently needed:
First, the Government of Indonesia and Timor-Leste must immediately hold the Eighth Senior Official Meeting (SOM) and prioritise discussion of establishment of the Commission for the Disappeared, and the fulfilment of human rights for “stolen children” and their families.
Second, President Joko Widodo must renew Presidential Decree No. 72/2011 to ensure efforts to locate those “children” who are still missing, to facilitate reunion visits in larger numbers, and to realise the rights of survivors to choose their citizenship.
Third, the Government of Timor-Leste must grant special visa status to all survivors to facilitate reunification with their families. In particular, we ask Centro National Chega! (CNC), as an independent institution in Timor-Leste with a mandate to implement the CTF recommendations, to urge both countries to develop a victims’ recovery program.
“Stolen Children” Working Group
- Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
- Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
- Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, Sulawesi (KontraS Sulawesi)
- Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, East Java (KontraS East Java)
- Indonesian Association of Families of Missing Persons (IKOHI)
- Labarik Lakon
- Legal Aid of Bandung (LBH Bandung)
- Yayasan Satu Keadilan
- Assosiasaun Chega Ba Ita (ACbit)
- Asosiasaun Vitima Konflitu Politiku 74–99
- Centro Nacional Chega!
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Timor-Leste
- Timor-Leste Red Cross Society (CVTL)
- Universitas Nacional Timor-Leste
- Asosiasaun HAK
Nita Noviyanti (+6285777629057)
Mulki Makmun (+6281361338235)