September 17, 1999
COMMITTEE ON CONSCIENCE SUPPORTS INVESTIGATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN EAST TIMOR
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a letter today, members of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council encouraged President Clinton “to support the creation of an international commission of experts to investigate the events in East Timor with a view toward making recommendations on how to establish accountability.” Perpetrators of mass violence should not be allowed to “enjoy impunity for their atrocities,” the letter said. The letter also commended President Clinton’s efforts in securing United Nations authorization to deploy a peacekeeping force there and strongly encouraged him to continue working toward making the deployment of this force a reality.
“While stopping the violence and bloodshed in East Timor must be the immediate priority, establishing an independent commission of experts to investigate how this happened and establishing accountability is also vital,” states Committee on Conscience Chairperson Ruth B. Mandel. “After peace is restored, we hope President Clinton will play a leading role in the effort to bring those responsible for the atrocities to justice.”
The letter also cites the civilian population’s subjugation to a “systematic campaign of murder, mayhem and mass deportation” and the methodical targeting of discrete groups, including Catholic priests and nuns, in supporting the peacekeeping force.
Noting President Clinton’s allegations that Indonesian security forces were aiding and abetting the campaign of terror, the letter states that these forces “cannot be expected to restore peace, unless it is the peace of the graveyard.”
On June 14, 1995, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council voted unanimously to establish a Committee on Conscience. The mandate of the Committee on Conscience is “to alert the national conscience, influence policy makers, and stimulate worldwide action to confront and work to halt acts of genocide or related crimes against humanity.”
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON CONSCIENCE
RUTH B. MANDEL, CHAIRPERSON
JERRY FOWLER, STAFF DIRECTOR