Thursday, 5 November 2009

Bere Returned to Indonesia: Amnesty International and National Civil Society Condemn the Move.

For more than two months the case of Maternus Bere has created scandal for the Timor-Leste Presidency, Government, National Parliament and civil society.

On Friday afternoon 30 October 2009 the Indonesian Embassy called the Minister of Justice Lucia Lobato to inform her that Maternus Bere has been sent back to Indonesia.

“On 30th, last Friday, I have received information from the Indonesian Embassy which to informed the Government that Maternus Bere's health situation was getting worse,” said Lucia Lobato. 

The Minister of Jusktice tried to convince the public that it was for humanitarian reasons that the Government let Bere out of prison.

“Because of the Humanitarian reason I think we can concede to this situation. Once again after we have past through a long process I would like appeal to all the Timorese people for their understanding to see this case as the one which is in the national interest.”

Lobato stated that “He is suffering from three or four kinds of illness such as kidney ailments, Tifu Afudu (Portuguese language), malaria and high blood pressure and the Indonesians were very preoccupied with his health situation also the medical team have went to do test in the embassy,” Lucia said

The Indonesian Government placed alot of attention on the matter as bere is their citizen so with urgency they have evacuated Maternus Bere out of Timor-Leste into Indonesia on Friday last week.”

However, the Minister of Justice would not give details at the press conference stating that, “there were a lot of concerns and the Government have to give full information to the public which willing to know the last details information of maternus Bere's case.”

She reiterated that, “at this moment Maternus Bere is in Indonesia and he has left Timor-Leste on 30 October last and he is no longer in the Indonesian Embassy.”

We all know that we have dealt with a big issue in regard to Maternus Beres Case,” Justice Minister Lucia Lobato informed journalist in Dili today.

She said that, “We have confronted a difficult situation.” But she praised the ability of Timorese to solving their own problem as, “Once again it shows that Timor-Leste can resolve our own problem even we have a lot of challenges but we can overcome this situation.”

The Opposition party in the National Parliament alleged that the Government help Martenus Bere to escape from justice.

Minister Lobato rejected to give any comment to the allegations and she only referred to the Prime Minister Gusmao's statement before the Parliament during the motion debate last month. “I think I will not come here to explain again this case because we all must informed by the PM's declaration before the parliament,” Lucia said.

Lucia Lobato doesn't know when Maternus Bere left Timor Leste but she only confirmed that she was informed by the Indonesian Embassy in Dili on Friday Last week.

“I don't know whether he has left on Friday morning or he was still in Dili when they informed me.” She told the journalists if they want more details to ask the Indonesian Embassy.

But the civil society and youth groups disagree with the government position. 

Just more or less a hundred meter from the government building a large group of young people were preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre in 12 November 1991 in which Indonesian security forces massacred over 300 people.

These groups have photo exhibitions to remind the Timorese younger generation that many people are still missing and the families have not found their remains.

Edio Saldanha a member from the organising committee said the justice must occur in order to prevent more violence in the future.

“In relation to Maternus Bere case we are also not satisfied and do not accept the Government's position.”

He [Bere] was involved in  [the Suai Church] massacre in which three priests, and many people were killed and there were also many sexual assaults against our sisters in the past.  And now our leaders like President Horta and Prime Minister Gusmao released him in violation of our laws - and the Prime Minister even said so in the National Parliament - so the act is in violation of our laws" explained Mr. Saldanha

Edio said, “We demand the Prosecutor General start to process these violations of our law and our Constitution."

"The release of Maternus Bere is viewed as insult to the justice system in Timor-Leste and Government gives priority to the militia and pro Autonomy people then justice for the victims of TNI and pro Jakarta Militia.{ “We can see from this means the state does not give justice to the victims,” said Mr. Saldanha.

On 19 October this year Mr. Saldanha himself me with with the survivor and relatives of the victims of the Suai church massacre. The people are very concern about Maternus Bere released and feel that the state is not concern about the justice for the victims.

“They feel sad and angry because the government took decision without consulting with them, the leaders made a decision which is against the law. The leaders always said everybody must be same before the law but later they released Maternus Bere this is make people are sad because the woman lost their husband, the kids suffer trauma because they lost their father, the parents angry because their children were killed so if there is no justice like today they promised if there any other militia member came again better we kill them as they did to our love ones. Means and eye for an eye because they killed our relatives they are still free means when we get killed any militia the government have to let us free as well.”

Amnesty international sent a three paragraph statement to Tempo Semanal stating that, “The transfer to Indonesia of this fugitive from justice perpetuates the pattern of impunity for crimes against humanity and other crimes which occurred during Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Both the Indonesian and Timor-Leste governments appear unwilling to uphold the rule of law and ensure that perpetrators of crimes against humanity are brought to justice, in clear violation of international human rights law and standards.”

In the weeks before Bere's release Amnesty International issued a recommendation to the United Nations Security Council to establish an international tribunal for Timor-Leste.  This agered President Horta, B=Nobel Peace prize winner.

”In this context, Amnesty International renews its call to the United Nations Security Council to step in and establish an international criminal tribunal to bring to justice all those responsible for crimes under international law between 1975 and 1999 in Timor-Leste and to ensure reparations to the victims."

Over 300 individuals who were indicted by the UN Special Panels for Serious Crimes for crimes against humanity and other crimes remain at large and are outside the territorial jurisdiction of Timor-Leste. It is believed that most of them live in Indonesia. The Indonesian government has so far refused to facilitate the extradition of those indicted on the basis that it did not recognize the UN mandate to try Indonesian citizens in Timor-Leste.'[Amnesty International]

The release of Maternus Bere on 30/08/2009 from Becora Prison and transfered to the Indonesian Embassy in Dili angered various groups in Timorese society. 

Hours after the release of Maternus Bere the President appealed for peoplel to forget the past and declared publicly that there will be no International Tribunal for the past crimes in Timor-Leste.  The authorities dispersed a demonstration in front of Hotel Timor and arrested several studnt demonstrators who were calling for an International Tribunal

In September 2009 the National Parliament voted against allowing the President to leave the country to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

President Horta threatened to resign in reaction to this move by Parliament. The next day on 08/09/09 Parliament acceded and voted to allow Horta to travel.

The High Court President Claudio Ximenes said that those who released Bere have committed crimes and has called for an investigation

In mid October Opposition Parties generated a Motion to Censure the Government in Parliament over the Bere case.  Appearing before Parliament Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao accepted responsibility for the release but claimed it was legal as it was not a release but a transfer.  AMP/Government Members of Parliament who form a majority in the legislature defeated the opposition motion to censure.

Maternus Bere came to Suai on 05/08/2009 for some family reasons but he was threatened to be beat up by the locals on 08/08/2009 after the Sunday church ceremony in the same church were he and his man gun downed 3 priests and many Timorese refugees on 06/09/1999.

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