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Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor: Can There be Reconciliation Without Justice?

Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor: Can There be Reconciliation Without Justice?

A Colloquium with Geoffrey Robinson, Associate Professor of History at UCLA, Director of the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and Chair of the Interdepartmental Program in Southeast Asian Studies

Thursday, May 20, 2004
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

In the aftermath of a United Nations-sponsored referendum in East Timor in 1999, Indonesian authorities launched a campaign of violence that left at least 1,400 people dead, and forced some 400,000 to flee their homes.  The violence marked the culmination of a contested 24-year Indonesian occupation in which roughly 200,000 East Timorese had perished.  The events of 1999, now broadly understood as amounting to Crimes Against Humanity, provoked urgent demands for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, if necessary through the formation of an ad hoc international criminal tribunal.  Some observers, both in East Timor and abroad, suggested that such judicial remedies should be coupled with a process of reconciliation and truth telling.  This presentation examines what has happened to these proposals in the five years since 1999.  It argues that there has been good progress in the realm of truth telling and reconciliation, but that efforts to bring those responsible to justice have largely stalled.  It suggests some of the reasons for the failure of judicial remedies, and considers the implications of that failure for the process of reconciliation.

Geoffrey Robinson is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UCLA.  He earned his BA at McGill University and his PhD at Cornell University.  He is the author of The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali (Cornell University Press, 1995) and a large number of scholarly articles on the history and politics of Indonesia and East Timor.  From 1989-1994, he worked at the Amnesty International headquarters in London, where he directed research and authored several major reports on human rights in Indonesia, East Timor, and the Philippines.  From June to November 1999, he served as a Political Affairs Officer with the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).  He has recently completed an in-depth report for the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, entitled East Timor 1999: Crimes Against Humanity.

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies