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Timor reconciliation commission to open next week

East Timor will formally open a truth and reconciliation commission next week, in a major step toward shedding light on widespread human rights abuses committed during Indonesia's brutal rule over the territory.

Similar in principle to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that probed apartheid-era crimes, officials say the East Timor body is vital to helping Timorese traumatised by the past deal with their suffering.

Xanana Gusmao, East Timor's independence hero and the man expected to become the territory's first president, says many Timorese want "answers from those who caused their loss and suffering". "With answers, people can start the healing process and close the horrible chapter in their lives," Mr Gusmao said.

The establishment of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor comes as Jakarta moves closer to putting 19 suspects on trial over alleged major human rights abuses in East Timor.

The region's 1999 independence vote prompted pro-Jakarta militias, with support from the Indonesian army, to go on a rampage.

The UN estimates more than 1,000 people were killed.

ABC News