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Timor-Leste NGOs write UN S-G on handover of CAVR report

In January 2006, Timor-Leste President Xanana Gusmao traveled to New York to present the report of the Timor-Leste Commission on Truth, Reception and Reconciliation (CAVR) to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Several NGO representatives from Timor-Leste sent a letter to the Secretary-General.

Click on a page at right to see a larger image of the letter, whose text follows below.

Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal
Secretariat: NGO Forum Timor-Leste; Dalan Kaikoli, Dili, Timor-Leste
Contact persons: Edio Saldanha ( or +670-7284602), Nico (+670-7278653, fax number: +670-3313324)

Dili, 19 January 2006

His Excellency Mr. Kofi Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations
New York, NY USA
By fax to +1-212-963-7055

Re: Handover of CAVR's report

We are writing to you in regard to the handing over of CAVR's report by the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to you, the UN Secretary-General. We are aware that you have given great attention to the justice issue in Timor-Leste and that involvement of the United Nations is critical to achieve justice for the victims in Timor-Leste and to end the chain of impunity.

While the CAVR was in operation, Timor-Leste civil society, especially the victims of Human Rights Violations, showed their courage when testifying at public hearings by presenting facts which brought back painful memories. However, they believed that their participation would contribute to the process of justice for Timor-Leste. Almost everyone hoped that the CAVR was working independently to carry out their mandate in accordance to the Constitution of RDTL (Article 162), and UNTAET regulation 10/2001. That many inside and outside of Timor-Leste gave their testimony to the CAVR demonstrates the importance of the CAVR process for the future.

The CAVR has finished its mandate and handed its final report to the President of Timor-Leste. The recommendations in this report are important for Timor-Leste and the international community. We must look at the past to design a better future. This report not only records our black history of past human rights violations, it also gives official recognition to the experiences and grief of our struggle that resulted from the political policies of international actors toward Timor-Leste over 24 years.

Our concern arose when CAVR's report was received by the President of RDTL, Mr. Xanana Gusmao. When he then handed over the report to the National Parliament of Timor-Leste on 28 November 2005, he stated that he had received the contents of report but criticized several of its recommendations, which he said were beyond the political capacity of RDTL. Our President explicitly rejects the right of victims to receive reparations and compensation and the recommendation for an International Tribunal. To date, CAVR's report has not been released by the President or government of RDTL, leaving the responsibility with you, Mr. Secretary-General.

We are aware of the political realities facing the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and of the stance of our state leaders, including President Gusmao. Citing these realities, they oppose an International Tribunal and reparations. Their position clearly contradicts international principles spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international law and the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

We strongly believe that a complete understanding of the truth is essential to reconciliation and justice. If the international community wishes Timor-Leste to live in peace with their neighbor Indonesia, as well as with other parts of the world, we believe it is important to publicize the entire contents of the CAVR report. This will help us move beyond our past violence towards a peaceful future.

We also urge the international community to establish an international tribunal and to respect and defend the right of victims to receive reparations or compensation. Such support will send a strong message from the UN to people everywhere that there is no place for the perpetrators of human rights violations.

We therefore would like to ask your Honorable UN Secretary-General to remind our President that respecting the rights of victims and ending the chain of impunity is a precondition to achieving true reconciliation in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and in the world as a whole.

We also ask the UN not to put the responsibility for prosecuting perpetrators of Human Rights Violations on Timor-Leste's shoulders. The delays in justice for the victims result from political decisions of the United Nations before 2002, which left the burden for Timor-Leste alone. If the UN does not take this up, you will send a signal to small and poor countries that they cannot rely on the UN to achieve true justice.

Your sincerely,
The undersigned below:


Board of Alliance:
Maria Afonso de Jesus
Edio Saldanha
Joaquem Brites

Rosentino Amado Hei, HAK Association
Joaozito Viana, Luta Hamutuk
Nuno Rodrigues, SAHE Institute
Thakur, Students Group
Manuela P. Leong, Fokupers
Ines Martins, La'o Hamutuk
Ino Parada, Gembel Group