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An Issue of Respectability

Updated On: Jan 10, 2006

Indonesia’s past has come back to haunt its reputation in the international community.

Indonesian Permanent Representative to the UN Rezlan Ishar Jenie is worried that Indonesia will be evaluated in light of the TNI’s past deeds in East Timor and Papua. UN organs, its member states as well as NGOs seemed to be mindful of Indonesia’s past track record. Rezlan is therefore keen to focus on improvingIndonesia’s human rights image in the international community.

It does not help that a UN panel looking into human rights abuses during Indonesia's occupation of East Timor revealed that up to 183,000 people were eliminated or died from economic mismanagement of the country. At least 70% of them perished under the hands of the Indonesian military or their associated militia from the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 to 1999. Even during the withdrawal, the Indonesian military/militia carried out a deliberate destruction of East Timor’s infrastructure and added at least 1,500 victims to the bloodshed. President Xanana Gusmao presented the 2,500-page Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission report to the East Timorese parliament late 2005.

Some follow-up perhaps have to be continued from the referendum in 1999 and the

achievements made by the Friendship and Truth Commission (KKP). International organs could also help to facilitate recommendations for Indonesia’s reinstatement of reputation in the international community. The UN Commission of Experts set up by Kofi Annan July 2005 is urged to help make suggestions to Indonesia in ways to improve Friendship and Truth Commission’s problem-solving capacity.

In addition, an "indigenous people" forum could be set up in Papua to localize understanding of issues in that region. Other ways to improve reputation could include speeding up the post-tsunami reconstruction efforts in Aceh. For this purpose, a familiar American face has been helpful. Indonesia has continued to work with UN Secretary General Special Envoy and former US President Bill Clinton to publicize efforts by the Indonesian authority in Aceh and to get more funds for the reconstruction.

Sources:

* Human Right Issues Remain Challenge to RI Diplomacy in UN (Antara, Jan 6)

* East Timor panel says up to 183,000 people died under Indonesian occupation (Jakarta Post, Jan 7)

* RI Wants Joint Investigation Into E Timor Border Shooting Incident (Antara, Jan 7)