Thursday, May 12, 2016
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network is saddened to
the death of human rights attorney and ETAN supporter Michael Ratner,
72. Michael was at the forefront of many legal struggles for justice both
within the U.S. and internationally. He served as President of the Center
for Constitutional Rights, where he pioneered the use of universal
jurisdiction and U.S. law to bring rights violators to justice.
In 1994, Michael and CCR
Major-General Sintong Panjaitan for his role in the 1991
Santa Cruz massacre of
more than 270 East Timorese. A U.S. District Court ordered the general to
pay substantial compensatory and punitive damages to Helen Todd, the
mother of Kamal Bamadhaj, the only non-East Timorese killed that day.
Later, also with the help of Michael and CCR, several East Timorese sued
Indonesian General Johny Lumintang for his role in the military and
militia violence which surrounded the 1999 vote on independence. After
hearing testimony from the East Timorese and experts, a U.S. magistrate
entered a large judgement against the general that was later over-turned
on a technicality.
Michael also inspired one of ETAN’s most unique actions. Under a
long-existing procedure, we requested a temporary street renaming
supporting Timor-Leste near the Indonesian consulate in New York. After
we were turned down on overtly political grounds, CCR sued the city on
our behalf. On July 17, 1999,
ETAN dedicated a
street sign naming 68th Street “East Timor Way.”
Speaking at a
discussion organized in 2001 by ETAN on the 10th anniversary of the
Santa Cruz massacre, Michael reflected on the success of the Timor’s
drive for independence. “These struggles can be won,” he said.
“It’s a lesson we can all take away from this.”
We thank Michael for his dedication, inspiration, and tenacity. Our
condolences to his family,friends and colleagues.
More abut Michael Ratner
Suing Dictators Around the World: A Look at How Michael Ratner Helped
Reshape Human Rights Law, Democracy Now! May 12, 2016
Michael Ratner, Lawyer Who Won
Rights for Guantánamo Prisoners, Dies at 72, New York
May 11, 2016
PUBLIC LIVES; Still Tilting at Windmills, and Fighting for Rights,
New York Times, August 2, 2002
Senator to co-sponsor S.Res. 273.
information on ETAN’s electronic resources on Timor-Leste, West Papua and