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Life is Cheap In indonesia

Sian Glaessner (based on Human Rights Watch report) | 06.08.2003 00:39

Major General Adam R. Damiri convicted on charges of crimes against humanity by a Jakarta human rights court, has been sentenced to 3 years in prison and remains free pending appeal. “A sham” says Human Rights Watch.

Damiri was charged with responsibility for a series of attacks on civilians committed by his subordinates in April and September 1999. Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia Division said "Even the prosecution asked for an acquittal. It's clear that the government is not interested in holding senior military officials accountable for their actions, no matter how heinous." Damiri oversaw all Indonesian military operations in East Timor at the time, including murder, arson, and forced expulsion, and has been indicted separately by the U.N.-created Serious Crimes Unit in Dili, East Timor.

Indonesia has refused to turn any of its citizens over for trial. Other convicted officers also remain free pending appeal. Instead of arresting or at least suspending Damiri from the armed forces, in December 1999 he was promoted to the position of operational assistant to the armed forces chief of staff in Jakarta. Damiri is now a senior officer responsible for prosecuting the war in Aceh province. As Brad Adams said “His role in Aceh is not only an embarrassment to Indonesia but causes grave concern that the tactics used in East Timor may also be used in Aceh." Of the eighteen defendants tried in Jakarta for crimes relating to conflict in East Timor, twelve have been acquitted. The five other convicted defendants received nominal sentences and have not served any time in prison, pending the result of the appeals process.

In September 1999 the Indonesian National Army and Timorese militias went on a campaign of murder, arson, and forced expulsion after the people of East Timor voted for independence in a United Nations administered referendum. After almost twenty-five years of brutal occupation, an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 East Timorese civilians lost their lives in the months before, and days immediately after, the voting. Approximately 500,000 people were forced from their homes or fled to seek refuge.

Sian Glaessner (based on Human Rights Watch report)
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