More Articles on Timor

Sam Pawlett rsp at
Tue Sep 7 11:17:45 MDT 1999

ASIET News Updates - September 7, 1999

* Race against genocide!
* Bishop attacked as army take over Timor
* Surge of nationalistic, anti-foreigner posturing
* Australian unions imposes sanctions on Indonesia
* Timor's political cleansing
* Army conspires with militias to force out foreigners
* Indonesia imposes marshall law in East Timor


Race against genocide!

Sydney Morning Herald - September 7, 1999

Lindsay Murdoch, Bernard Lagan and Peter Cole-Adams -- Australia
said last night it was prepared to "play the leadership role" in
an international peacekeeping force in East Timor as Indonesia's
military continued to watch over worsening violence and the
disappearance of thousands of independence supporters.

As pressure mounted on the Government to act, the Prime Minister,
key Cabinet ministers and senior security advisers met in an
emergency session of the national security committee.

The Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, said before the meeting: "It
would not take long to put together a very basic force because
Australia, for its part, is prepared to make a very major

Meanwhile, thousands of Timorese refugees -- many rounded up from
churches, schools and United Nations offices that have been
havens for the past month -- were being taken from Dili by truck
or bus to unknown destinations.

East Timorese sources fear they are being removed to military
holding camps well away from international eyes -- possibly in
Indonesian controlled West Timor.

RAAF aircraft evacuated 300 foreigners -- including Australians
-- from Dili to Darwin in five flights yesterday as the militias
stepped up their indiscriminate shootings and attacks.

In Dili, entire suburbs were deserted and bodies were reported to
be decomposing in streets blockaded by militia. Pro-independence
leaders have fled into the mountains.

The car of Australia's Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr John McCarthy,
was fired at as he was driven through the beleaguered capital. In
Jakarta, youths burnt a home-made Australian flag outside the

An Australian Defence Force spokesman in Darwin said that the
evacuation would continue today. The Navy's high-speed catamaran,
HMAS Jervis Bay, which can carry 500 people, remainedon standby
in Darwin.

All eyes turned to Australia yesterday, with at least two urgent
calls to the Prime Minister from the UN Secretary-General, Mr
Kofi Annan. Indonesia's President Habibie said last night that Mr
Annan had also called him, asking him "about how we are going to
solve it".

Only the UN or Indonesia can clear the way for intervention by an
armed peacekeeping force -- and only Australia has the forces and
equipment capable of moving in at short notice.

Mr Downer said last night that the only way to fulfil his promise
that Australia would stand by the people of East Timor was to get
an international force into the territory as quickly as possible.

But he added that this would depend ultimately on decisions made
in Jakarta and at UN headquarters in New York. He said the
Government was "absolutely outraged" that Mr McCarthy's car had
been shot at and that the Australian consulate had also come
under fire.

Mr Downer indicated that several countries had expressed a
readiness to join an international force, and that numbers were
not a problem. "We are prepared to play the leadership role in
such a force."

Malaysia and Thailand said last night they were prepared to send
troops to East Timor as part of a peacekeeping force if asked by
the UN. The Howard Government is under increasing pressure to
act, with a groundswell yesterday for some form of intervention.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Clancy, called on Mr
Howard to send in armed troops, warning that a failure to do so
would leave a scar on Australia's reputation.

Angry and sometimes violent demonstrations were held in capital
cities. In Darwin, the Indonesian consulate was stoned and
windows were broken. In Sydney, outside the Garuda airlines
office, unions told other protesters a trade boycott was planned.

In Jakarta, demonstrators -- mostly students -- gathered to
denounce Australia's criticism of Indonesia over security before
and after the UN supervised vote which saw Timorese opt for
independence. The mock Australian flag was burnt and the
Australian crest defaced on the embassy.

Armed militia, watched by Indonesian police and troops, attacked
the home of Bishop Carlos Belo, the spiritual leader of East
Timor, and a nearby International Committee of the Red Cross
compound where about 4,000 East Timorese had sought refuge.

The former Australian consul to East Timor Mr James Dunn, who was
evacuated by the RAAF from Dili to Darwin yesterday, said there
was no question that in the past 24 hours the militias had
expanded their activities because they felt impunity with the
departure of journalists and United Nations staff.

"The militias are free to roam the country and they have taken
over large areas," he said. "It is a carefully orchestrated
operation and, according to my assesments, it is being
orchestrated by two military generals, probably located in West
Timor. It is designed partly as an act of revenge for the fact
that the Timorese, after 24 years, do not want to stay with

Bishop attacked as army take over Timor

Reuters - September 7, 1999 (abridged)

Jonathan Thatcher, Jakarta -- Rampaging pro-Jakarta gangs on
eMonday broke one of the last taboos in mostly Catholic East
Timor, firing on the home of Bishop Carlos Belo as Indonesia
spurned international pleas to stop the violence.

United Nations and diplomatic sources said the militias,
operating with impunity in the former Portuguese colony, had also
attacked a UN convoy going to the airport and the Dili offices of
the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Scores, possibly hundreds, have already been killed in recent
days as the militia violence has intensified.

"They have attacked the bishop's residence. Last I heard the
militia were in the compound shooting at the house," one UN
official told Reuters by phone from the East Timor capital Dili.
"They have crossed all the lines, and having crossed those lines
I don't know where they are going to stop."

One diplomat said the object of the attack on Nobel laureate
Belo's home was to force out some 6,000 refugees who had gone
there to escape the violence engulfing East Timor and which the
Indonesian military and police have done nothing to prevent.
Thousands of refugees have already spilled across the border into
West Timor.

The United Nations, which organised last week's independence
referendum, plans to evacuate half its staff there. Most local
and foreign journalists have also been forced to leave.

"The strategy is get the world's ears and eyes out. That is very
disturbing," one Western diplomat said. Some observers say that
if that were to happen, the militias, could embark on a campaign
of mass slaughter to force pro-independence supporters to flee
the territory.

Joao Carrascalao, Australia's senior East Timorese resistance
officer, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio he
had received a report of mutilated bodies along the road to Dili.

"One person who travelled from Dili to Atanbua [in West Timor]
reported that alongside the road there were hundreds of heads on
sticks and bodies everywhere," Carrascalao said.

"I've been told they could count at least 145 dead bodies on the
outskirts of Dili," Alfredo Ferreira, the National Council for
Timorese Resistance representative in Darwin, told Reuters.

The fate of jailed rebel leader, Xanana Gusmao, is also
uncertain, with Indonesia at the weekend saying he would be
released on Wednesday in East Timor. But diplomats said that
would be effectively mean the murder of Gusmao, the man most
expect to become the first president of a new East Timor.

"I do not want my client to be sent to Dili without a clear
explanation from the government," his lawyer Hendardi said.

Indonesia has offered no clear explanation why it is allowing the
violence to go unchecked.

Asked about the issue on Monday morning, Habibie would only
stress the success of last week's ballot, which was held in an
almost total absence of violence.

"Come on! What we have achieved right now is one thing. We have
achieved the fact that we have a transparent, peaceful ballot,"
he said.

Surge of nationalistic, anti-foreigner posturing

Australian Financial Review - September 7, 1999

Greg Earl, Jakarta -- Indonesia's loss of East Timor is likely to
spark a surge of nationalistic, anti-foreign posturing in the
run-up to a bitterly-contested presidential election in November.

While President B.J. Habibie moved quickly to calm emotions with
a conciliatory nationally televised address after the results
were announced, the man who may replace him lashed out at
Australia's role in the independence vote.

The country's highest profile Muslim leader, Mr Abdurrahman
Wahid, said Australia was biased and he regretted independence
for East Timor "because I am a person who loves integration with

The leading opposition figure and potential presidential
candidate, Mrs Megawati Soekarnoputri, said she was saddened by
the results because she had hoped East Timor would remain part of

Dr Habibie called for calm in his address and said he understood
that many people could be embittered that East Timor had rejected
Indonesia's offer of wide-ranging autonomy as an alternative to

Military spokesman Brigadier General Soedarjat said the military
accepted the result as the aspiration of the East Timor people,
but the reported critical reaction from a group of military
veterans who served in East Timor underlined the difficult
domestic political implications of the vote for an already
fragmented government.

Mrs Megawati and Mr Abdurrahman are generally seen as campaigners
for democratic reform in Indonesia against the remainder of the
Soeharto establishment in the Habibie government, but they may
now use the Timor vote to attack the Government.

Mr Abdurrahman was quoted in The Jakarta Post yesterday as saying
Indonesia should maintain only minimal diplomatic relations with
East Timor because it [Indonesia] was not a cockroach nation.

Mr Abdurrahman attacked Australia's role in the independence
process describing it as "mad" and calling for all Australian
staff to be removed from the United Nations mission because they
were biased.

Mr Abdurrahman, a notoriously contradictory but revered leader of
Indonesia's largest Muslim social organisation, appeared last
week to step up his campaign to become the country's next
president by encouraging his supporters to back away from Mrs
Megawati. Academic commentators quoted in the Indonesian media
have predicted continuing violence in East Timor and encouraged
the Government to immediately divert spending from the province
to looking after refugees.

Australian unions imposes sanctions on Indonesia

Sydney Morning Herald - September 7, 1999

Mark Metherell, Phil Cornford and Joseph Kerr -- Protesters burnt
flags at rallies across Australia and begged for armed
intervention in East Timor yesterday as unions threatened to slap
industrial bans on Indonesia's missions throughout Australia in
protest over the latest bloodshed.

"Howard Howard you can't hide, you're in bed with genocide",
about 600 protesters shouted at one of several rallies held
yesterday in Sydney, Darwin, Victoria and Perth.

"Save East Timor NOW" was the central message from the protesters
as they called on the Federal Government to have the "guts" to
stand up to Indonesia and impose economic sanctions.

The union black ban by the Communications, Electrical and
Plumbing Workers Union (CEPU), came amid rising community

At least two Australian aid organisations, Caritas and CARE
Australia, evacuated staff from East Timor yesterday, saying they
were no longer prepared to put their lives at risk.

The union ban -- starting with mail and telecommunications -- is
the first shot in a union campaign being co-ordinated by the
ACTU. It is expected to spread to bans on Indonesian shipping and
Garuda airline.

In Sydney yesterday, 300 union protesters gathered outside the
Garuda offices before marching to the Prime Minister's office

The secretary of the Labor Council, Mr Michael Costa, called for
the international community to step in and said the labour
movement would start imposing bans on Indonesian businesses. In
Victoria, more than 600 demonstrators marched on a meeting of the
Federal Cabinet. While Australia dithered with diplomacy, the
speakers said, people were dying.

The secretary of the Australia East Timor Association, Mr John
Sinnot, said yesterday: "Why are we so scared of Indonesia? It's
bankrupt -- morally and economically."

The ACTU president, Ms Jennie George, said the Government's
actions had been "seriously inadequate".

The national vice-president of CEPU, Mr Len Cooper, said bans
imposed on mail deliveries and telecommunications repairs at
Indonesian organisations in Victoria yesterday would be imposed
nationally from today.

Mr Cooper said this would eventually lead to a total
communications block on the Indonesian embassy and consulates
throughout Australia.

The Australian Red Cross said an attack yesterday on a Red Cross
compound in Dili, where 2,000 displaced people were sheltering,
was a tragic and serious violation of the Red Cross mandate.

The RAAF yesterday flew five Caritas and two CARE workers to
Darwin from Dili after CARE evacuated its 71 Timorese and
Indonesian workers, most of them by bus to West Timor.

Timor's political cleansing

South China Morning Post - September 7, 1999

Joanna Jolly, Dili and Agencies -- Indonesian troops openly
joined pro-Jakarta militias' reign of terror in East Timor
yesterday in what appeared to be a campaign to force thousands of
people to flee the territory.

Forces were moving through the capital, Dili, shooting anyone who
refused to leave and setting fire to their homes, a journalist
said. Amid reports of hundreds of deaths and atrocities,
witnesses said soldiers and militiamen were marching screaming
refugees at gunpoint and herding them out of East Timor on trucks
and ships.

Western sources in Jakarta said the army, having lost its battle
to retain East Timor through the ballot box following last week's
78.5 per cent vote in favour of independence, was enacting a
"Plan B" of mass evacuation and mass murder.

Filipino doctor Lenin Pascual, who got out of Dili on Sunday,
said his team treated 300 people, many with gunshot wounds, in 11
days. "The militia carry only home-made guns and machetes but the
people we were treating had been shot with [automatic assault

That's how we knew the military was shooting them and no longer
the militia," he said. "Some of those wearing the black shirts of
the militia had military bearing ... at the airport, even
soldiers were saluting one of those in black shirts."

David Wimhurst, chief spokesman for the United Nations in Dili,
said before his own evacuation to Darwin that East Timorese were
being "rounded up by the armed forces and trucked to West Timor".
In another context such action would be called ethnic cleansing,
he said, adding it was "political cleansing".

Besieged UN officials ordered the evacuation to Australia of 200
of the election workers who organised the referendum. UN staff
were pulled out of two more provincial towns, but 231 remained in
Dili and four other towns.

UN staff still in Dili met last night to consider whether to
withdraw. UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (Unamet) chief Ian
Martin said later: "I can't completely preclude the possibility
that Unamet would have to pull out if the security situation made
it completely irresponsible to stay." All day gunfire rang
through the capital, where witnesses reported seeing piles of

International officials and aid workers evacuated for their own
safety described Dili as a "ghost town", while Indonesia's chief
of police admitted security was "out of control" and "the
Government there is no longer functioning".

Armed forces chief General Wiranto said ministers would consider
whether to place East Timor under military rule. In the meantime,
still more troops would be sent. "Violence is not allowed ... We
will not tolerate any brutal acts, whatever the reason," he said.

Hours earlier, armed thugs backed by the military attacked and
set fire to the Red Cross compound and the adjoining house of
Nobel peace laureate Bishop Carlos Belo, driving out 8,000
terrified refugees. A military spokesman said 20 of the refugees
had been found shot dead on a beach. The state Antara news agency
said 30 had been killed.

Witnesses said shots were fired into the air and into the ground
outside the bishop's house, forcing him out into his garden. He
tried to negotiate with the military for some time before being
evacuated by police to Baucau. The bishop said: "Everybody is
leaving their houses because they are being threatened and their
houses have been burned down. The military, the militia, they are
occupying the city."

Baucau Bishop Basilio da Nascimento said Bishop Belo was "deeply
hurt, especially psychologically. He's in a state of shock".

Church and pro-independence sources said they had heard the 8,000
refugees from Bishop Belo's house and the Red Cross compound were
loaded on to two navy vessels in Dili harbour.

Authorities said nearly 28,000 "supporters of integration within
Indonesia" had sought refuge at police and military posts. Most
had been sent to West Timor, they said. Refugees were streaming
into West Timor at a rate of 1,000 per hour, the Red Cross said.

One UN official in Dili said after the attack on Bishop Belo:
"The [pro-Jakarta militias] have crossed all the lines, and
having crossed those lines I don't know where they are going to

Joao Carrascalao, the East Timorese resistance chief in
Australia, said: "One person who travelled from Dili to Atambua
[in West Timor] reported that alongside the road there were
hundreds of heads on sticks and bodies."

Britain and the United States said Indonesia had to deal with the
violence in East Timor or let the international community help.
Australian combat troops were placed on heightened alert.

The UN Security Council is sending a mission to Jakarta this week
to discuss "concrete steps to allow the peaceful implementation"
of last week's vote.

Army conspires with militias to force out foreigners

South China Morning Post -- September 7, 1999

Joanna Jolly -- A frightening pattern has developed throughout
East Timor, with the Indonesian army using intimidation to force
out foreigners.

The pattern involves foreigners first being told
they will soon be attacked and that the police are unable to
protect them. Militias are then used to attack foreign offices
and missions, often firing into the air and not directly at the
foreign workers. The army then has an excuse to come in and
evacuate foreigners.

In Suai, where the United Nations evacuated 55 local and
international staff on Sunday, the pattern was no different.

The situation in Suai had been calm. UN staff were told there
would be an attack on Saturday night. However, the attack began
about midday on Sunday.

Members of the Laksau militia rampaged through the streets,
setting fire to houses and killing two people. UN officials were
threatened for a day before the assault, which forced the locals
from their homes.

One UN official said this was a deliberate strategy to create the
impression that a large proportion of East Timorese wanted to
remain with Indonesia.

As UN staff evacuated from Suai there were reports that two
people had been hacked to death outside the church compound,
where as many as 3,000 people had been sheltering during the past
few weeks.

UN staff were extremely concerned for the safety of up to 1,000
people still in the compound. Unconfirmed reports yesterday from
Suai said that 100 people were massacred in the church compound,
with many more fleeing to the hills.

When the decision was made to evacuate the UN personnel, Laksau
militiamen obstructed the UN for one hour, shouting and yelling.
Police kept the militia metres away from the car but did nothing
to intervene.

"The militia have been unleashed and are doing the dirty work
with the TNI [Indonesian military] and the police in the
background," said a UN official.

Before the attack the bupati (district head) had met UN
officials, who thanked him for the calm situation in the
district. But the bupati said that many people were unhappy with
the result of the referendum. He said the population was
distraught at the result and wanted to be evacuated. But there
was no evidence that this was the case.

Indonesia imposes marshall law in East Timor

Agence France Presse - September 7, 1999

Jakarta -- Indonesia has imposed martial law on East Timor
following the collapse of law and order after the troubled
territory voted overwhelmingly for independence.

"Yes, East Timor has been put under a military emergency status
as of 00:00 Western Indonesian Time," military spokesman
Brigadier General Sudrajat told AFP on the telephone.

Indonesian police had said the security situation in East timor
was "out of control," and sought additional troops reinforcement
to beef up security.

On Monday, military chief General Wiranto said he would seek a
review of the security status of East Timor at a cabinet meeting.

The review would be to establish whether there was a need to
declare a status that would give "firmer legal authority to take
action against anyone carrying arms, who shoot on people at
will," he said. "I will propose or give consideration so that
authority is vested in the security personnel so that they do not
hesitate to act," he said.

An MP of the Moslem United development Party was quoted by the
Kompas daily as saying President B J Habibie had sought
parliament's approval on monday to declare martial law.

Witnesses have said Indonesian soldiers and pro-Jakarta
militiamen were Monday marching screaming refugees at gunpoint
and herding them onto trucks to drive them out of East Timor, as
reports spoke of hundreds of deaths and gruesome atrocities.

Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET)
PO Box 458, Broadway NSW 2007 Australia
Phone: 61-(0)2-96901230
Fax  : 61-(0)2-96901381
Email: asiet at
WWW  :

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