Over 125 women representing 14 countries and 22 US states joined with the East Timor Action Network (ETAN) to urge the United Nations Security Council to establish an international tribunal for East Timor. Since 1975 when the Indonesian military illegally invaded and occupied East Timor, the country has witnessed the killing of over 200,000 people, including the brutalization of women via rape, forced marriage, and forced sterilization. According to a study produced in 1999 by the Communication Forum for East Timorese Women, many of these acts were “planned [and] organized” by Indonesian militia and soldiers.
While in the past UN officials have called for an international human rights tribunal for East Timor, the Indonesian government has instead pledged to hold its own trials using an ad hoc Human Rights Court. Decrying the inadequacies of the ad hoc court and citing the recognition of rape as a crime against humanity by the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ETAN has demanded that East Timor receive greater attention. In a statement released on Monday, ETAN declared, “The mothers of East Timor deserve the peace only justice can give them, and the international community has an obligation to welcome the birth of the world’s newest country with a renewed commitment to justice.”
East Timor gains full independence on May 20.