However, these problems persisted even as people began to emerge, and the leadership of the National Council of Timorese Resistance CNRT regrouped and returned to Dili. There seem to have been several reasons for this. Humanitarian agencies appeared to have little knowledge of East Timor, and were nervous about engaging with the CNRT for fear of aligning themselves with a political organisation.
Yet the CNRT was not a political party, but a broad grouping of Timorese interests which had led the campaign for independence. It had moral authority, if no legal standing, yet struggled for months to secure a building in Dili, to obtain transport and to get the basic resources to operate.
The Catholic Church was a major institution in East Timor, but few outsiders recognised the significance of its role and its reach. Language was another problem. Few Timorese spoke English, few humanitarian workers spoke Indonesian or Tetun, and interpreters were scarce. All meetings were conducted in English, and key documents were generally only available in English. The World Bank in particular was very slow to translate its monthly newsletter, and often failed to provide interpreters for meetings.
Few Timorese had access to the humanitarian compound, and Timorese rarely participated in coordination meetings. It was months before structures were created to give Timorese a say at a governmental level.
The Timorese felt, with some justification, that their expertise and knowledge of East Timor was not recognised and used by the international community. Tensions over the lack of Timorese participation were exacerbated by severe resource imbalances. A floating hotel in Dili harbour, from which Timorese were barred, symbolises the disparities, and led to huge resentment, especially among young Timorese.
Whilst accommodation was in short supply, this solution did nothing for the local economy. A dual economy quickly emerged, with hotels, cafes, restaurants and supermarkets catering for expatriate workers at prices at least equal to those charged in Darwin. For local people, these prices were exorbitant, and the display of affluence amid the poverty, destruction and unemployment which characterised the local economy was an affront.
Eventually, the Bank was forced to change tack, and have at least some school furniture produced locally. One of the key lessons emerging from the East Timor response is that we need to develop strategies that include and empower local people; in East Timor, as in other high-profile emergencies, it is very easy for local actors and institutions to be sidelined amid the overwhelming foreign presence that such crises tend to attract.
Language and communication with the population about what is happening is very important.
We need to allocate more resources for this purpose, especially for translators and interpreters, and to build availability of interpreters into contingency planning. Capacity-building should be part of the response, but it is a two-way process. Local actors may not be familiar with the processes and requirements of the humanitarian community, but the humanitarian community is not generally familiar with the local community, culture and systems.
Collaborative learning is essential. We also need to acknowledge that a large-scale foreign presence will have an inflationary effect, and can distort the local economy in damaging ways. Every effort should be made to source supplies locally to stimulate the local economy. The UN needs to develop ways to rebuild economies without generating the kind of wide income disparities that caused such resentment in East Timor. Within the response itself, more attention needs to be paid to coordination between military and humanitarian planning, and we should not allow political sensitivities to divert us from essential contingency planning.
Some of these militia had existed since the late s; others were newly created. But the army, apparently under the leadership of the army special forces, known as Kopassus, linked them into a centrally-coordinated network with a political front organization as a way of defending "autonomy"-which came to mean not enhanced self-government but the status quo. A systematic pattern of violence began in February and culminated in April with two massacres in the capital, Dili, and a town to the west of Dili called Liquica.
The death toll in the two attacks was more than sixty, but Indonesian authorities did not arrest any of the militia members responsible. Eyewitnesses reported direct army and police involvement.
On May 5, Indonesia and Portugal signed an agreement to put the autonomy proposal to the East Timorese people in a direct and secret ballot that would be administered by a U. Security for the ballot and the preparations leading up to it would remain the responsibility of the Indonesian government. UNAMET staff began arriving in Dili in late June and quickly became the target of militia attacks, as violence against suspected independence supporters continued, often with Indonesian military backing or direct participation.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan twice delayed the date of the vote because of security concerns.
On August 30, close to 99 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, and on September 4, Annan announced that Militia members, again backed by Indonesian soldiers, then initiated the scorched earth campaign that led to the destruction of most towns and villages and much of East Timor's physical infrastructure. Many of the refugees were forcibly expelled at gunpoint by militia members who then regrouped to terrorize them in West Timor.
Most of the remaining population fled to the hills; out of East Timor's pre-referendum population of eight hundred thousand,humanitarian agencies were estimating that at least five hundred thousand had been displaced by mid-September.
An unknown number of people were killed. International pressure, which had been noticeably absent as militia violence was escalating in April, May, and June, eventually forced President Habibie to acknowledge that he could no longer control the situation, although many suspected that orders for the scorched earth campaign had in fact come from Jakarta. On September 12 President Habibie requested the assistance of a multinational force led by Australia.
On September 15, the Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the International Force in East Timor, or Interfet, to be sent, and the first troops began arriving on September 20 to a totally devastated and burned out city. On September 22 Sander Thoenes, a Dutch journalist for the Financial Times who had returned to Dili, was killed by men in Indonesian military uniforms. Clashes between Interfet forces and militia members were continuing to take place through October, and security remained a major concern for the hundreds of thousands of East Timorese hiding in the forest and in church sanctuaries.
On September 27 a special session of the U. Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution, over the objections of Indonesia and other Asian countries, calling on the Secretary-General to establish an international commission of inquiry to look into violations of international humanitarian law in East Timor.
The Secretary-General entrusted the task to U. But at the same time, the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission set up its own inquiry to avoid, in its chairman's words, "foreign intervention. Both the Indonesian commission and the international commission pledged to have preliminary reports ready by December In the meantime, refugees in West Timor remained under the control of the militia, and the U. High Commissioner for Human Rights worked to ensure their speedy repatriation.
An airlift of refugees began on October 8.
The report confirmed fifty-six cases of sexual violence, mostly against ethnic Chinese women. The team is already overburdened with the workload of day-to-day crimes and has little time for exhumations related to conflict-related crimes of the past Timor-Leste Police Development Program - TLPDP, pers. Leaked Australian intercepts indicated a close relationship between Simbolon and Eurico Gutteres, the head of the militia. The forensic proof to him was irrelevant. One of the first steps that the government could take in developing a national program is to develop legislation on forensic procedures that would specify: the circumstances in which forensic samples may be taken; what forensic samples can be taken; who can authorise the taking of samples; who can take and analyse samples; the conditions under which human remains may be exhumed; the chain of custody for human remains; rules governing the treatment and storage of remains once exhumed; maintenance of genetic databanks; protection of sensitive information collected during the search for missing persons.
Defending Human Rights. Human rights advocates operated openly and vigorously in both Indonesia and East Timor, although in East Timor and Aceh, they were under constant threat. In East Timor on September 5, militia attacked and destroyed the office of the premier human rights organization there, Yayasan HAK, and the entire staff was forced into hiding.
Human rights activists in Irian Jaya were also subject to government harassment. Little progress was made, however, in holding senior officials responsible for human rights violations. On November 3, , a government-appointed fact-finding team composed of NGOs, community leaders, and members of the military, released a summary of its findings on the three-day riot in Jakarta in May The report confirmed fifty-six cases of sexual violence, mostly against ethnic Chinese women. It also suggested some degree of state responsibility for the widespread looting and arson.
But the full version of the report was never made public and by October , none of its recommendations had been implemented.
One positive outcome of the riots was the formation of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, which was active during the year in East Timor and Aceh. On September 8, a wide-ranging new law on human rights was passed, giving new powers to the National Commission on Human Rights, including subpoena powers, and allowing the establishment of human rights tribunals. The law also recognized the equal rights and responsibilities of spouses and guaranteed the right of children to be protected from dangerous and exploitative work.
Unfortunately, article of the new law also stated that no human rights abuse reported more than five years after its occurrence could be investigated or prosecuted. The Role of the International Community. The U. It was to be headed by a Special Representative with sweeping administrative powers, and to be supported by U. In addition, the office of the U.
High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed a representative to be based in Jakarta, in line with a "chairman's statement" of the U. Commission on Human Rights. Aceh and Irian Jaya remained off limits to U. In February , the U. In a declaration issued February 19, the European Union E. Central and Eastern European countries associated with the E.
On September 7, the European Parliament condemned the violence in East Timor and said it would support a resolution to send in peacekeeping forces. On September 16, it passed a resolution calling for immediate recognition of the independent state of Timor Loro Sae, the provision of peacekeepers, humanitarian aid and financial support, and the formation of an international court to try crimes perpetrated there. On September 18, the E. Its ban on export of arms, munitions, military equipment and bilateral military cooperation with Indonesia had initial applicability of four months. Speaking for the E.