East Timor: Remembering History

The Trial of Xanana Gusmao and a Follow-up on the Dili Massacre

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The trial of Xanana raised several important human rights issues. It should be noted at the outset that Asia Watch has never taken a position on the political status of East Timor nor on the jurisdiction of Indonesian courts there. Its concerns were focused on whether Xanana and those arrested at the same time were abused in any way; whether he would receive a fair trial in accordance with international standards; and how free the witnesses, many of them already detained, would be to testify truthfully. In addition, because the prosecution's charges against Xanana go back to 1976, Asia Watch was interested to see whether any new light would be shed during the trial on some of the human rights violations documented in earlier years. This report summarizes the findings of the visit of the Asia Watch observer in March 1993, including the results of interviews conducted, direct observation of the trial, and an analysis of documents obtained. It addresses fair trial and human rights issues directly related to the trial of Xanana and associated detainees, weaknesses in the Indonesian justice system illuminated by the trial, and general human rights conditions in East Timor, including a follow up to the November 12, 1991 massacre at the Santa Cruz cemetery.1 The report was written before the verdict was announced.

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