AFAD STATEMENT ON THE VISIT
OF THE UNWGEID TO TIMOR LESTE
10 February 2011
- The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) lauds
the on-going visit of the United Nations Working on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) to Timor Leste. The visit which
started on the 7th of February and would end on the 14th of the month,
occurs aptly after more than a month of the entry into force of the
International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced
Disappearances on 23 December 2010. Earlier scheduled in December 2010
but postponed to early 2011, the visit is hoped to bring about justice
and peace in this country which, for more than a couple of decades from
1975-1999, was seeking for independence from the Indonesian occupation
resulting in untold killings and enforced disappearances of millions of
According to the Truth, Reparation and Reconciliation Commission of
Timor Leste, there are 18,600 death tolls and enforced disappearances
during the war from 1974-1999. The International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) reports of 2,500 victims of enforced disappearances during
the period. The HAK Association of Timor Leste, a
member-organization of AFAD, reports that most of these disappearances
occurred between 1975 to 1983.
In the November 2009 visit of AFAD to Timor Leste, we have learned that
most of the people whom we had spoken to, including those from
government agencies, have loved ones victimized by enforced
disappearances. In a meeting of the AFAD and the Latin American
Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM)
with His Excellency President Ramos-Horta, no less than the president of
the country shared that he has a disappeared brother.
For most if not all of the victims of enforced disappearances, truth
remains unveiled and justice is far from being meted out. In a visit
that we had with some victims of the Sta. Cruz massacre in Liquiça, the
victims whom we met expressed their profound frustration over the
absence of truth and justice and the prevailing of the atmosphere of
impunity and continued to look forward to the realization of their
much-cherished dream for a just and lasting peace.
This on-going visit of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances of
the United Nations is expected to ferret out the truth of enforced
disappearances in the country based on which, concrete recommendations
are expected which would pave the way to the resolution of cases.
The AFAD takes this opportunity to request the UN Working Group on
Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to appeal to the Government of
Timor Leste to expedite the fulfillment of the promise of President
Ramos Horta to AFAD and to FEDEFAM that his government would sign and
ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons
From Enforced Disappearance. The fulfillment of the promise will indeed
help pave the way towards the eventual attainment of a just and lasting
peace in this blood-stained country.
Finally, the AFAD believes that the voices of the victims and civil
society organizations have to be heard and their recommendations be
taken serious consideration. Thus, in this vein, AFAD encourages them to
fully cooperate with the Working Group in our common endeavor to erase
enforced disappearances from the face of the earth.
The desaparecidos and their families and the rest of the
population of Timor Leste deserve no less than truth, justice, redress
and the reconstruction of the historical memory.
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO