|Arte Moris Painting Santa Cruz Massacre
24 March is the International Day for the right to the truth and justice for victims. The decision to allocate this day for the victims of human rights violations was made pursuant to United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution No. A/HRC/Res/14/7 in 2010.
The Human Rights Council decided to make this date an historic occasion to honor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a Bishop from El Salvador, who because of his support, courage and sacrifice fought for and defended victims of human rights violations which eventually resulted in him being murdered. Therefore, the UN decided to choose this day as the international day for the right to the truth and justice for victims.
Timor-Leste is a new member of the international community and the 194th member of the UN, and therefore is a 'guardian’ of this day, especially seeing that Timor-Leste is a ‘victim’ of human rights violations that occurred during the 24 year illegal occupation by the Indonesian Soeharto regime. Therefore, Timor-Leste also has a moral obligation to commemorate this day and continue to push for the promotion of victims’ rights to truth and justice, to also provide a lesson that can be ‘learnt’ by future generations to prevent others from becoming victims of human rights violations.
The demand for victims’ rights to truth and justice is not only aimed at satisfying victims, but also for the current generation and future generations. The truth is a historical treasure of a country that prevents the reoccurrence of such incidents in the future. History does not just concern heroism displayed during a violent struggle, but it should also encompass the suffering of victims, so that we can all understand this human suffering to prevent further suffering.
“The truth must be revealed, studied and handed down to the current generation and future generations. Therefore, we must not be afraid to find the truth and admit our ‘dark’ past or merely try to ‘cover it up’ with the heroics of the past. We have to be honest and accept our past so that we can learn to distance ourselves from ‘arrogant’ behavior”; said the Vice President of National Victim’s Asosiation Timor Leste, Mrs. Maria da Gloria.
This also applies to the right to justice, as it does not just uphold the interests of victims of human rights violations. Justice is always a basic human need. Now we should all be ‘hungry for justice’ and future generations will continue to require this right.
Therefore if we do not have the courage to provide justice for the past, it will not be possible for our country to fulfill its obligation to provide justice now and in the future, such as (corruption, misuse of authority, domestic violence, etc.).
“This principle of justice must be firmly upheld and cannot be modified in accordance with the desire of the ‘elite’ and especially not because of authority wielded by perpetrators. The problem that there is no capacity to achieve justice is not a reason to ignore and violate these principles. The capacity to achieve justice is relative and it is the responsibility of the entire international community”; said Sisto dos Santos, Coordinator of ANTI.
This day is commemorated to remember and to raise the awareness of all State leaders regarding how important it is for member countries (including Timor-Leste and Indoneseia) to fulfill their obligations to take action to uphold the rights to truth and justice for victims of human rights violations.
Therefore, those of us who have come together under the Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal (ANTI) together with the victims and families of the victims demand the following:
1. For the National Parliament to fulfill its constitutional obligations to enact policy and law so that the State of Timor-Leste can meet its obligations to uphold the right to truth and justice for victims as well as citizen’s;
2. For the National Parliament to place the drafting of a law on a Reparations Program and the Memorial Institution back on the agenda, which is necessary to meet the State's obligation to acknowledge that no solution has been provided regarding the suffering of the victims. During the second legislative period veterans’ issues were prioritized and were resolved, therefore we are sure that the current legislative period will prioritize victims’ issues;
3. We request for the State of Timor-Leste to sign and ratify the International Convention on Forced Disappearances to facilitate the repatriation of Timorese persons who were taken to Indonesia during the Indonesian occupation.
4. We request for the government of Timor-Leste to examine and adhere to the MOU that was signed by the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia regarding recommendations from the Commission of Truth and Friendship, especially the recommendation to establish a Commission for Missing Persons to discover those Timorese who were forcibly disappeared during the Indonesian occupation.
5. We request for the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to uphold its responsibility regarding the crimes against humanity process in Timor-Leste for past crimes in order to break the chain of impunity in Timor-Leste and other countries.
6. We request the support and solidarity of international organizations such as Amnesty International, ETAN, Forum Asia, AFAD, ICTJ, TAPOL, ICG to continue to struggle and advocate for a crimes against humanity process in Timor-Leste as the UN totally failed to complete this process.
Dili, 22 March 2013
1. Komite 12 de Novembru
2. Timor-Leste Victims Association
3. Asosiasaun HAK
4. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP)
5. ACbit (Asosiasaun Chega ba Ita)
6. Fongtil Secretariat
7. Asia Justice And Rights (AJAR) Timor-Leste
8. Timor-Leste Student Front (FMTL)
9. MDI (Mata Dalan Institute)
10. Haberan Institute
11. KSI (Kadalak Solimutu Institute)
12. Ita Ba Paz
15. KBH (Knua Buka Hatene)
ETLJB also supports ANTI.
Source: ANTI Joint Statement 22 March 2013. Edited by Warren L. Wright. Image: Photo by Warren L. Wright 2008