Doc. 8534

20 September 1999

Situation in East Timor

Report

Political Affairs Committee

Rapporteur : Mr Lluis Maria de Puig, Spain, Socialist group

Summary

The annexation of East Timor by Indonesia on 17 July 1976 has never been accepted by the international community. On 30 August 1999, in a referendum organised under the auspices of the United Nations, the overwhelming majority of the population of East Timor voted in favour of independence. When the result of the vote was announced, millions of inhabitants had been massacred by pro-Indonesian militias and hundred thousand others fled to escape the atrocities.

      The Indonesian Government should, inter alia, take all the necessary steps to ensure that the Indonesian forces cease all violation of international rules and ensure the dissolution of the militias and their immediate disarmament.

      Despite the many warnings, the international community had taken none of the precautions which would have been necessary to avoid this tragedy.

      The member States of the Council of Europe should recognise the Timor Lorosae - the name chosen by the population - as an independent State, and examine urgently in the light of the human and economic disaster which followed the referendum vote, what lessons are to be learned for the future concerning preventive humanitarian interventions.

I.       Draft recommendation

1.       Following an Indonesian military invasion in late 1975, the territory of East Timor was annexed by Indonesia on 17 July 1976 in defiance of the rules of international law and the rights and obligations of Portugal, which had been recognised by the United Nations as the governing power. The annexation, which has never been accepted by the international community, was accompanied by human rights violations and a policy of forced assimilation of the population.

2.       The Assembly recalls Resolution 966 (1991) on East Timor, in which it condemned Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor and the human rights violations and affirmed the right of the East Timorese people to decide their own political destiny and preserve, develop and assert their cultural, linguistic and religious identity.

3.       The Assembly also recalls Portugal’s many endeavours since 1975 to ensure respect for the Timorese people’s right to self-determination and independence.

4.       The Assembly pays tribute to the diplomatic efforts of the United Nations following the political changes in Indonesia in 1998, which culminated on 5 May 1999 in the signing of an agreement between the UN, Indonesia and Portugal on the future of East Timor. The agreement comprised three documents: a proposal for autonomous status for East Timor, to be approved or rejected by referendum, security arrangements and arrangements for the referendum to take place by ballot on 30 August 1999. Indonesia undertook to accept that East Timor would become independent if the autonomy proposal was rejected.

5.       The Assembly notes that, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1246, a United Nations mission to East Timor (UNAMET) was established on 11 June 1999 mandated to organise and conduct this referendum.

6.       The Assembly deplores the fact that the campaign for the referendum on 30 August was accompanied by a wave of violence.

7.       The Assembly welcomes the fact that the overwhelming majority of the East Timor population nevertheless turned out for the poll organised under the auspices of the United Nations, and notes that on 4 September the UN announced the victory of the supporters of the independence movement, having obtained 78.6% of the votes. The Indonesian Parliament will have to incorporate into domestic law the result of the referendum in favour of independence.

8.       The Assembly firmly condemns the massacres and acts of violence and terror committed by the pro-Indonesian militias following this democratic referendum held in a territory which is still, from the angle of international law, under the administration of a member country of the Council of Europe, as well as the passivity and complicity of the Indonesian armed forces deployed in East Timor. It demands that the violence cease immediately and that those responsible be brought to justice.

9.       The Assembly also condemns the other violations of human rights on East Timor, notably the attempt to destroy the people and their identity.

10.       The Assembly is profoundly concerned by the humanitarian tragedy caused by the anti-independence militias and the Indonesian armed forces. Hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of East Timor have fled the atrocities perpetrated by these forces, seeking refuge in the mountains, on other islands or abroad, and thousands of others have been deported to West Timor, simply for having taken part in a democratic act of self-determination. Thousands of displaced persons are faced with starvation.

11.       The Assembly deplores the fact that the headquarters of the United Nations in Dili, East Timor, in which some one thousand persons had taken refuge, was besieged by the pro-Indonesian militia and then plundered and set on fire after its evacuation, as was the residence of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Monsignor Carlos Belo.

12.       The Assembly deeply regrets that despite the many warnings, and the tragic evidence of the handling of the Kosovo crisis, the international community failed to take the necessary steps to prevent this tragedy.

13.       The Assembly demands that Indonesia apply in their entirety the agreements of 5 May 1999 between the UN, Portugal and Indonesia and respect the population's choice of independence.

14.       The Assembly recalls that the right of self-determination and independence is recognised for Timor by the Charter of the United Nations and the resolutions of the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

15.       The Assembly supports the appeal of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, to create an investigatory mission to ascertain the facts and the responsibilities with regard to the human rights violations committed in East Timor.

16.       It also backs the setting up of an International Tribunal to judge these human rights violations.

17.       The Assembly welcomes the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1264 of 15 September 1999 authorising the deployment of a multinational force in East Timor, in accordance with the request transmitted by the Indonesian Government on 12 September 1999, with a view to restoring peace and security in East Timor, protecting and assisting UNAMET in carrying out its mission and, as far as its resources allow it, facilitate the humanitarian aid operations.

18.       It notes that this multinational force should be replaced as soon as possible with a United Nations peace-keeping operation.

19.       The Assembly welcomes the Declaration on East Timor issued by the Committee of Ministers on 15 September 1999.

20.       The Assembly urges the Indonesian Government:

21.       The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers call upon the member States of the Council of Europe:

      vii.       to examine urgently in the light of the human and economic disaster which followed the referendum vote, what lessons are to be learned for the future concerning preventive humanitarian intervention.

II.       Explanatory memorandum

1.       Introduction

1.       When the pro-independence result of the referendum in East Timor on 30 August 1999 was announced, pro-Indonesian militias began to massacre inhabitants of the territory, and several hundred thousand others had to flee the atrocities.

2.       Despite the many warnings, the international community had taken none of the precautions which would have been necessary to avoid this tragedy.

3.       Following the request made by the parliamentary delegation of Portugal, the Assembly decided to hold an urgent debate on the situation in East Timor, and the Bureau instructed the Political Affairs Committee to submit a report to the Assembly.

2.       The historical background

4.       In 1520, the Portuguese discovered the island of Timor and occupied its eastern part. The other part, a Dutch colony, was recovered by Indonesia in 1949.

5.       In 1974, Portugal took the view that all its colonies, including East Timor, constituted independent territories, and a programme was drawn up for the decolonisation of Timorese territory through the setting up of a transitional government and of a people's assembly which was to be elected in October 1976. Portuguese sovereignty was to continue until 1978.

6.       On 28 November 1975, however, after a civil war between the two main Timorese political factions, the Timor Democratic Union (UDT) and the Revolutionary Front of Independent East Timor (FRETILIN), the latter unilaterally declared the independence of East Timor, which was not recognised by Portugal, Indonesia or the United Nations.

7.       On 7 December 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor, and, on 17 July 1976, the territory became the 27th province of the Republic of Indonesia.

8.       The annexation of East Timor flouted the rules of international law and the rights and duties of Portugal, the governing power. It was accompanied by human rights violations and by a policy of enforced assimilation of the population.

9.       As soon as annexation began, the occupying Indonesian forces were violently opposed by an armed resistance movement which was supported by the population.

10.       The annexation was condemned and rejected by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, by the European Parliament and by many other international organisations.

3. The search for a negotiated political solution

A. Portugal's position

11.       Following annexation, Portugal withdrew from the territory of East Timor and requested the opening of negotiations.

12.       The right to independence and self-determination and the role to be played by Portugal as governing power in the decolonisation process are enshrined in the Portuguese Constitution of 2 April 1976 and retained in the revised Constitution of 27 March 1989 (Article 29).

13.       In 1978, the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic adopted the first of a series of resolutions defending the right of self-determination and denouncing the human rights violations committed in the territory of East Timor.

14.       In 1982, under international pressure, Indonesia agreed to enter into negotiations with Portugal under the auspices of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

15.       Portugal has always considered that it should be responsible not for defining the future organisation of the territory but rather merely for ensuring that the right of self-determination is exercised and completing the decolonisation process under United Nations supervision.

B.       The Assembly's position in 1991

16.       In 1991, against the background of the international intervention to liberate Kuwait, which had been annexed by Iraq, the Assembly adopted Resolution 966 (1991) on East Timor1, in which it condemned the annexation of East Timor by Indonesia as a violation of international law, and in particular of the right of peoples to self-determination and independence, as well as the human rights violations perpetrated against the people of East Timor by the Indonesian occupying forces.

17.       The Assembly demanded that the Indonesian Government call a halt to all human rights violations, guarantee respect for human rights and the right of peoples to self-determination and independence, authorise the international aid and human rights organisations to carry out their work in East Timor, declare an immediate cease-fire with the Timorese resistance forces and withdraw their armed forces from the territory of East Timor.

18.       The Assembly also requested the member countries of the Council of Europe to support a peaceful negotiated settlement within the United Nations, with the participation of Portugal, Indonesia and the East Timorese people, to urge countries maintaining economic links with Indonesia to exert pressure on this country to cease all human rights violations and all appropriation of the wealth and natural resources of East Timor, to support food and medical assistance for the East Timorese people and to impose an embargo on arms sales to Indonesia until the aforementioned objectives were attained.

19. Following the massacre in East Timor on 12 November 1991 and the continued violence by the Indonesian occupying forces, the Assembly adopted Order 470 (1991) reiterating the position it had expressed in the Resolution adopted the same year and instructing its Political Affairs

Committee, its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and its Committee on Parliamentary and Public Relations to monitor the situation in East Timor.

4. Recent political developments: the 30 August 1999 referendum on independence and subsequent events

20.       Since 1976, 200 000 people have died in East Timor from the combined effects of repression and famine.

21.       The diplomatic efforts conducted by the United Nations and the political changes in Indonesia in 1998 culminated in the conclusion on 5 May 1999 of an agreement between the UN, Indonesia and Portugal on the future of East Timor. The agreement comprises three documents: the proposal for autonomous status for the territory to be approved or rejected by referendum, the security arrangements and the procedure for holding the vote, scheduled for 30 August 1999.

22.       Indonesia undertook to accept the independence of the territory if the Timorese rejected autonomy, although the result of the referendum had to be ratified by a vote in the Assembly of the Indonesian People.

23.       Under the terms of Resolution 1346 of the United Nations Security Council, a United Nations Assistance Mission for East Timor (UNAMET) was created on 11 June 1999, mandated to organise and conduct this referendum.

24.       Despite the wave of violence marking the referendum campaign, the overwhelming majority of the Timorese turned out for this poll.

25.       On 4 September the UN announced the victory of the pro-independence side, with 78.6% of votes cast.

26.       On the announcement of the referendum results, the pro-Indonesian militias stepped up their acts of violence and terror in East Timor, with the complicity of the Indonesian armed forces.

27.       These acts prompted a full-scale humanitarian tragedy. Hundreds of persons were reported massacred and hundreds of thousands fled the atrocities to seek refuge in the mountains and neighbouring islands, where they face starvation. Hundreds of thousands of other persons were allegedly deported to West Timor.

28.       The United Nations headquarters in Dili, East Timor, in which some one thousand persons had taken refuge, was besieged by the pro-Indonesian militia. It was then plundered and set on fire on 14 September, having been more or less secretly evacuated.

29.       The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Mary Robinson, has requested the creation of an investigatory mission to ascertain the facts and responsibilities with regard to the human rights violations committed in East Timor, as well as an International Tribunal to judge these human rights violations.

30.       On 7 September 1999 the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Lord Russell-Johnston, issued an urgent appeal to the Indonesian Government to put an end to the violent acts by the armed anti-independence militias in East Timor. He urged the Government to ensure respect for the vote of 30 August in favour of independence and declared that international intervention would be required if

the Indonesian Government and army proved incapable of calling a halt to the violence and restoring order on their own.

31.       The Indonesian President, Mr Habibie, who succeeded President Suharto in 1998, has ordered the conditional release of the pro-independence leader Xanana Gusmao, who had been in prison since 1992, while imposing marital law in East Timor. He has also agreed to the deployment of an international force in East Timor.

32.       On 15 September 1999 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1264 authorising the deployment of a multinational force in East Timor, in accordance with the request transmitted by the Indonesian Government on 12 September 1999, with a view to restoring peace and security in East Timor, protecting and assisting UNAMET in carrying out its mission and, as far as its resources allow it, facilitating the humanitarian aid operations. The resolution authorises the States participating in this multinational force to take all the action required for the implementation of its mandate.

33.       This multinational force should be replaced as soon as possible with a United Nations peace-keeping operation. The Security Council resolution also invites the Secretary General of the United Nations to prepare a United Nations transitional administration in East Timor.

34.       The Resolution also stresses that the Indonesian Government is still responsible, under the 5 May 1999 agreements, for keeping the peace and maintaining security in East Timor during the transitional phase between the conclusion of the referendum and the discussion on implementation of its results.

5. Conclusion

35.       I would propose that the Assembly request the Indonesian Government:

36.       I would also propose that the Assembly request the member States of the Council of Europe:

*

* *

Reporting Committee : Political Affairs Committee

Reference to Committee : Reference No. 2439 (request for an urgent procedure debate of 20/09/99)

Budgetary implications for the Assembly : None

Draft Recommendation unanimously adopted by the Committee on 20 September 1999.

Members of the Committee : Mr Ruffy (Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairperson), MM. Arzilli, Atkinson, Bársony, Behrendt, Bergqvist, Björck, Blaauw, Bloetzer, Bühler, Daly, Davis, Demetriou, Dokle, Domljan, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Mrs Durrieu, MM. Fico, Gjellerod, Gligoroski, Glotov, Gül (alternate: Mrs Akgönenc), Mrs Iotti, Mr Iwinski, Mrs Kautto, MM. Kirilov, König, Krzaklewski (alternate: Mr Adamczyk), Kuzmickas, Lopez Henares (alternate : Mr Yanez-Barnuevo), Lupu, van der Maelen, Maginas, Medeiros Ferreira (alternate : Mr Roseta), Meier, Micheloyiannis, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Nedelciuc, Mrs Nemkova, MM. Neuwirth, Oliynyk, Pahor, Palmitjavila Ribo, Prusak, de Puig, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM. Schieder, Schlotten, Selva (alternate : Mr Turini), Sinka, Mrs Smith, Mrs Stanoiu, Mrs Stepová, MM. Surjan, Theis, Thoresen, Timmermans, Urbain, Vella, Volcic, Zhebrovsky (N. ………….. (alternate : Mr Manchuleko),

N.B. The names of members who took part in the meeting are printed in italic

Secretaries of the Committee: Mr Kleijssen, Mr Sich, Mrs Hugel


1 See Document 644 of 13 May 1991 on East Timor (Rapporteur: Mr Pontillon, France, Socialist).