Maria Isabel is an East Timorese woman, a survivor of sexual violence. During the Indonesian invasion of Timor-Leste (1975-1999) she was tortured and raped by members of the Indonesian security forces. She is one of the thousands of East Timorese women who were subjected to sexual violence by Indonesian security forces members during the invasion.
During the invasion, these women were usually held in military installations for months and were subjected to torture and rape by members of the Indonesian security forces. They were forced to become sexual slaves for members of the Indonesian security forces during the invasion.
Apart from sexual violence, the Indonesian invasion of Timor-Leste was also marked by other serious and systematic human rights violations by Indonesian security forces, pro-Indonesian militias, and paramilitary groups. It is estimated that more than 100,000 East Timorese died as a result of the conflict in the early days of the Invasion. Most of the dead were civilians killed by the military or starved to death in internment camps in the forests and hills while in hiding from the Indonesian military.
In 1999, the Indonesian government led by President Habibie gave Timor-Leste citizens the opportunity to determine their future through a Referendum, and on August 30, 1999, a Referendum was implemented which resulted in the majority of Timor-Leste people rejecting special autonomy status and choosing to become an independent and sovereign country.
Umar is a survivor of the Aceh conflict. In 2003, when the military operation in Aceh was in effect, he was arrested by military forces at his rented house on the accusation that he was a member of GAM (Free Aceh Movement). He was detained and tortured without any legal process for one month — one of many cases in Aceh during the period of martial law and military operations in Aceh.
Aceh is an Indonesian territory that is experiencing a prolonged conflict between a pro-independence armed group called the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government. The conflict occurred since the mid-1970s and lasted for three and a half decades.
GAM declared “Aceh Independence “ on 4 December 1976 with reason of social, economic as well as political imbalances experienced by the Acehnese people.The Government of Indonesia responded this declaration by implementing various security operations.
Aceh experienced twice military operations in 1989-1998 and 2003-2004. In the enactment of this Military Operation, the government is under military power. Gunfires between the Indonesian national army (TNI) and the Indonesian national police against GAM combatants resulted arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, violence against women, torture and murder. at least 10,000 to 30,000 people died as a result of this conflict, most of them are civilians.
Various attempts were made to build dialogue to stop the conflict and violence. However, these efforts were unsuccessful. At the end of 2004, there was an earthquake and tsunami which killed around 150,000 - 170,000. Armed conflict automatically stops and international attention increases drastically, especially for humanitarian assistance to restore the situation ravaged by the tsunami disaster.
The natural disaster that occurred triggered the birth of the peace agreement (known as the Memorandum of Understanding — the Helsinki MOU) between the Government of Indonesia and GAM (Free Aceh Movement) which was signed on 15 August 2005. This MoU is the starting point for peace efforts in Aceh, from this MoU born the covenant agreement which seek to resolve cases of human rights violations during the conflict and fulfill the rights of victims.
Read more about what happened in Aceh on our paper ‘Transitional Justice: Indonesia Case Study’.