INDEPENDENT NEWS

East Timor Militia Leader Should Be Behind Bars

Published: Mon 2 Dec 2002 09:19 AM
INDONESIA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
PO BOX 68-419,
AUCKLAND
29 November, 2002.
MEDIA RELEASE: East Timor militia leader should be behind bars and foreign women detained in Aceh on trumped up charges must be released.
The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is outraged that the Human Rights Court which has just awarded notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres ten years jail, will allow him to remain free while he appeals his sentence. IHRC has written to urge the New Zealand government to demand he remain in custody. At the same time IHRC urges the release of two unwell foreign women in detention in Aceh on trumped up charges.
Guterres is the man who sent his gang of thugs off to terrorise and kill independence supporters in the lead up to the 1999 vote on independence and who later helped to initiate the arson and terror that destroyed Dili post-referendum. He was filmed many times exhorting violence and leading his thugs on violent rampages, and has come to symbolise the ruthless rage and brutality that was unleashed on East Timorese people in 1999.
By sad contrast, two foreign women - journalist Lesley McCulloch and nurse Joy Lee Sadler who have harmed no on, have just had their 10 week detention in the Acehnese capital of Banda Aceh prolonged. They are charged only with 'visa irregularities'. Lesley McCulloch is an Australian-based journalist and academic who is regarded as an international expert on the conflict in Aceh. Both are unwell - Lesley McCulloch has a back problem which requires surgery, while Joy Lee Sadler is HIV positive and requires regular medication which is being sent from the United States. She says she is now feeling extremely unwell, both physically and mentally. We understand that Joy is now beginning a hunger strike until the case is heard.
The women have had terrible experiences in custody including sexual harassment and beating as well as being forced to witness the physical torture of other detainees.
Many other academics regularly use the same short term visitor visa without problems so it is believed Lesley has been targeted because of she has written about the military build-up in Aceh.
The New Zealand Government should prevail on the Government of Indonesia to:
Release Lesley McCulloch and Joy Lee Sadler who are guilty of no crime.
Immediately detain Eurico Guterres who is guilty of crimes against humanity.
(letter available on request)
for further information ; Maire Leadbeater 09-815-9000 or 025-436-957

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