Through Memory Towards Hope

12 Years of Commission of Truth and Friendship of Indonesia and Timor Leste

The Commission for Truth and Friendship of Indonesia and Timor-Leste (CTF), established by the two governments and run from 2005 to 2008, made recommendations on the issue of separated children. Since the submission of the CTF report to the two presidents in 2008, negotiations have continued over how to implement the recommendations.

In July 2009, Timor Leste submitted a short proposal to Indonesia to consider the establishment of a sub-working group related to the issue of missing or disappeared persons, including separated children, but Indonesia continues to be a reluctant party. In October 2011, the Indonesian government issued a presidential decree for the implementation of the CTF recommendations. However, many years later there has been little progress in this area on the part of the two governments.

Last year, a landmark achievement was the free visa between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, and the statement of support on the reunification process for separated families from the President of Timor-Leste. President Francisco Guterres noted that these reunions “are a benchmark of democracy for bilateral relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste.”

However, a call to establish the bilateral commission for the disappeared as recommended by the final report remains neglected by both countries. It is important that fostering good relations and cooperation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste regarding disappeared persons and reunification acknowledges the history of the conflict and situates these visits in the context of reparation and respect for victims’ lives.

The Indonesian and Timorese governments should take concrete steps to facilitate these reunions, working closely with civil societies who have been working hard to bring about this breakthrough

As such, the following actions are urgently needed:

First, the Government of Indonesia and Timor-Leste must immediately hold the Eighth Senior Official Meeting (SOM) and prioritise discussion of establishment of the Commission for the Disappeared, and the fulfilment of human rights for “stolen children” and their families.

Second, President Joko Widodo must renew Presidential Decree No. 72/2011 to ensure efforts to locate those “children” who are still missing, to facilitate reunion visits in larger numbers, and to realise the rights of survivors to choose their citizenship.

Third, the Government of Timor-Leste must grant special visa status to all survivors to facilitate reunification with their families. In particular, we ask Centro National Chega! (CNC), as an independent institution in Timor-Leste with a mandate to implement the CTF recommendations, to urge both countries to develop a victims’ recovery program.

“Stolen Children” Working Group