04 September 2009

Protest at the release of alleged perpetrator of Suai massacre to Indonesian Embassy in Dili

On Sunday August 30, 2009, Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao ordered the release of alleged mass murderer Martenus Bere from Becora Prison to the custody of the Indonesian Embassy in Dili.

Bere was arrested near Suai, close to the southern end of the border with Indonesia, in mid August 2009, after crossing the border to take part in a funeral. There was an outstanding warrant from the UN Serious Crimes Unit in 2003 for his arrest as a militia commander during the notorious Suai massacre, which took place on September 6, 1999, two days after the declaration of the historic 1999 UN-administered referendum on integration of Timor Leste into Indonesia.

It is unclear how many were murdered that day in and around the church at Suai, but those murdered included three priests, about 100 people inside the church, and another unknown number outside the church. It is believed that up to 200 were murdered – men, women and children. The massacre was conducted under the command of Indonesian military officers and militia leaders like Martenus Bere.

During ceremonies to mark the 10th anniversary of the Timorese people's triumph in voting overwhelmingly for independence in 1999, current President Jose Ramos Horta declared firmly that there should be no United Nations prosecutions for crimes against humanity during the Indonesian invasion of 1975, the ensuing 24 years of occupation and then the holocaust of September 1999. For this statement Horta was denounced by Christina Carrascalao, whose brother and others were slain by the Aitarak militia at their home in 1999, before the referendum, and by FRETILIN MP Jose Teixeira. However, since then President Horta has called for the prosecution of those who murdered the journalists in 1975 and 1999.

The release of Bere to the Indonesian Embassy drew sharp criticism from the Timor Leste representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, Mr Louis Gentile: “His release is contrary to the Seurity Council resolutions which set up the UN mission in Timor Leste and completely undermines the principle of accountability for crimes against humanity globally,” Mr Gentile told Reuters. “This has global significance”.

It is an abuse of the principle of the independence of the judiciary from the executive that the Prime Minister could have ordered the transfer of Mr Bere from the Prison to the Indonesian Embassy.

In solidarity

Peter Murphy

Timor-Leste Democracy Support Network, Australia

Take action

Write a short protest letter to Prime Minister Gusmao to call for the return of Martenus Bere to Becore Prison and for him to be put on trial for his alleged crimes.

Write a short letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, asking the Australian government to speak out in support of the UN principle, and the independence of the judiciary.

Suggested draft:

Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao
Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Dili, Timor-Leste

gabinetemediapm@gmail.com

Return Martenus Bere to Becora Prison for his alleged crimes against humanity

Dear Prime Minister,

I am shocked and angered that you could order the transfer of the notorious militia leader Martenus Bere from Becora Prison to the Indonesian Embassy last Sunday, when your people, and indeed good people all over the world, were paying respect to those men, women and children who died to vote for independence 10 years ago that day.

I agree with the Timorese people who have expressed their profound dismay, nausea and anger at this decision. Mr Bere was allegedly a leader of the notorious Suai massacre in September 1999.

I agree with the United Nations Mission's statement on the principles involved in this case:

The United Nations’ general position -- and as repeatedly stated by the Secretary General -- is that there must be no impunity for serious crimes such as crimes against humanity. Accountability is an essential foundation to consolidating the rule of law and protecting human rights – it goes hand in hand with building lasting peace and prosperity. Concrete steps need to be taken to ensure full accountability, to end impunity and to provide reparations to victims in accordance with international human rights standards and principles.

I urge you most strenuously to reverse this decision, have Martenus Bere returned to Becora Prison, and give him a fair trial for his alleged crimes so that justice can be done, and lasting peace and prosperity can be built.

I am very concerned that you could order the release of an arrested person from custody, since you are not a judicial officer, and this kind of decision is the responsibility of the judiciary.

Yours sincerely,
-----
Mr Kevin Rudd MHR
Prime Minister of Australia
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Fax: 02 6273 4100

http://www.pm.gov.au/PM_Connect/Email_your_PM

Martenus Bere should be returned to Becora Prison in Timor-Leste

Dear Mr Rudd,

I am shocked and angered that the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste could order the transfer of the notorious militia leader Martenus Bere from Becora Prison to the Indonesian Embassy last Sunday, when the Timorese people, and indeed good people all over the world, were paying respect to those men, women and children who died to vote for independence 10 years ago that day.

I agree with the Timorese people who have expressed their profound dismay, nausea and anger at this decision.

I agree with the United Nations Mission's statement on the principles involved in this case:

The United Nations’ general position -- and as repeatedly stated by the Secretary General -- is that there must be no impunity for serious crimes such as crimes against humanity. Accountability is an essential foundation to consolidating the rule of law and protecting human rights – it goes hand in hand with building lasting peace and prosperity. Concrete steps need to be taken to ensure full accountability, to end impunity and to provide reparations to victims in accordance with international human rights standards and principles.

I urge the Australian government to publicly endorse the UN position against impunity for crimes against humanity, and to call for this decision to be reversed, to have Martenus Bere returned to Becora Prison, so that he can be given a fair trial for his alleged crimes in the Suai massacre of September 1999.

I also urge the Australian government to publicly call for the independence of the judiciary in Timor-Leste to be respected. How can a Prime Minister order the release of an arrested person from custody, since this kind of decision is the responsibility of the judiciary?

Yours sincerely,
-----
SEARCH Foundation

www.search.org.au

Level 3, 110 Kippax St,
Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
Ph: +61 2 9211 4164; Fax: +61 2 9211 1407 ABN 63 050 096 976


promoting democracy, social justice and environmental sustainability

1 comment:

Andrew Johnson said...

Three priests and some hundreds of Timorese were killed in the Suai massacre on September 6 1999. On Sunday August 30 2009, Xanana Gusmao ordered the release of recently arrested alleged murderer Martenus Bere to the custody of the Indonesian Embassy in Dili.

This is a shocking testimony to Timor's servitude to Indonesia and US mining interests, as is Australia's silence from Ache to West Papua.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...