Asia Watch Calls for Internation Monitors at Trials of East Timorese

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Over 60 East Timorese, many of them students, remain in detention in Jakarta and Dili, capital of East Timor in the aftermath of the November 12 massacre in Dili in which upwards of 75 demonstrators were killed when Indonesian troops opened fire. All are facing trial, some on criminal charges, some on charges of subversion. Asia Watch believes that most were in fact arrested for the non-violent expression of their support for East Timor's independence and should be released unconditionally; any who engaged in violence should be charged with an appropriate criminal offense and have all the rights guaranteed to detainees by domestic and international law. Asia Watch is concerned at reports that several students, including two of four East Timorese transferred from Bali to Jakarta in late December, were severely beaten or otherwise mistreated. For the first weeks of their detention, all the East Timorese were denied access to friends, family, and counsel; some still are being held incommunicado. One Indonesian lawyer, Ponco Atmono, has taken on 20 of the cases of those detained in Dili; he is believed to have been government-appointed. Asia Watch believes that international observation of these trials, expected to start next month in Jakarta and Dili, is critically important as an indication of continuing concern with the aftermath of the November 12 massacre, with the situation in East Timor more generally, and with the administration of justice by Indonesian officials.

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