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Indonesia Says UN East Timor Inquiry Unnecessary


Indonesia says there is no need for a separate United Nations inquiry into the violence that swept East Timor during its 1999 vote for independence - because the two countries have already set up a commission.

Indonesia says the separate U.N. review into the violence in East Timor in 1999 that was announced Friday is unnecessary and redundant.

The United Nations says its inquiry will examine whether justice was carried out after the East Timor violence and hopes it will complement the Indonesia-East Timor Commission on Truth and Friendship.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman, Marty Natalegawa, says the U.N. move is superfluous.

"It is our view that the just announced commission of experts is actually redundant because one of the likely outcomes or recommendations of such a commission of experts would have been to recommend the establishment of a commission of truth and reconciliation which is actually already decided by the two governments concerned, namely Indonesia and Timor Leste [East Timor]," he said. "They decided to establish the Commission of Truth and Friendship."

Indonesian militias, many backed by elements in the military, went on a rampage in 1999 as East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia's often brutal 24-year rule.

More than 1,000 people were killed, tens of thousands were forced into refugee camps across the border in Indonesian West Timor, and large swathes of the country were destroyed.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman says the commission set up by the two countries should not only address human rights violations, but should also bring the two nations closer.

"We want to be sure that whatever mechanism is found to address that problem also has positive spill over beneficial impact on the two countries bilateral relations," he said. "We've seen too many examples in the past of various well-intentioned U.N. efforts in many parts of the world where a lot of resources have been spent but we're not quite sure what has been the positive impact to the country concerned."

Indonesia has been criticized for failing to bring those responsible to justice in its special tribunal set up to prosecute militias. East Timor conducted its own trials, but was not able to go after those believed to be the most senior perpetrators of the violence - who are all living in Indonesia.