04 April 2009
Statement by ETAN on the Anniversary of the Liquica Massacre
East Timorese Deserve Justice! Contact: John M. Miller +1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391
On the tenth anniversary of the massacre at the Catholic Church in Liquica, ETAN urges the international community to finally respond to the demand for justice of the victims of this and other horrific crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor (Timor-Leste).
Those responsible for the many crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide committed during Indonesia's illegal occupation of East Timor between 1975 and 1999 must be held accountable.
The victims of the Liquica massacre and their families should not have to wait another decade for justice. Calls for justice are not calls for revenge. Only through credible trials and respect for the rule of law will victims find closure. Only through real accountability will genuine friendship flourish between peoples of Indonesia and East Timor.
The brutal attack on those seeking refuge in Liquica churchyard was part of the ongoing campaign to intimidate the East Timorese people into opposing independence and to create the illusion that any violence arose spontaneously among the East Timorese.
At that time, the Liquica killings were a clear statement that Indonesia's security forces had no intention of allowing an uncoerced vote. However, a month later, the UN, Indonesia and Portugal signed the May 5 agreement, which called for the Indonesian police to provide security for the coming UN-organized vote and for the Indonesian military to be left in place.
The events of 1999 and the preceding years of illegal occupation continue to affect the East Timorese, who continue to suffer from largely unhealed mass trauma. This is one of the underlying causes of the 2006 crisis in Dili. The failure to hold accountable those responsible for organizing and implementing the violence in Liquica and throughout the occupation has created a culture of impunity. Perpetrators believe they will not be held accountable for their crimes and victims often feel that they must take justice into their own hands. These attitudes contributed to the attacks on the President and Prime Minister early last year.
In Indonesia, impunity for past human rights crimes undermines the rule of law and democratic progress. Instead of facing trial, key figures in East Timor's oppression are running for prominent political offices.
Image added by ETLJB: Widows of the 1999 Liquica church atrocity.
Read an account of the 1999 Liquica massacre by a survivor.
Sign the ETLJB Petition to the United Nations to prosecute 1999 crimes against humanity in East Timor.