rsp at SPAMuniserve.com
Tue Sep 7 00:53:36 MDT 1999
ASIET News Updates - September 6, 1999
* Refugees flee as East Timor burns
* The butchery begins in East Timor
* International community betrays the Timorese people
* Expelled activist tells of Indonesia's payback
* Jakarta's bloody hands: military back killings
* Army's next move crucial to the nation's future
Refugees flee as East Timor burns
Associated Press - September 6, 1999
Geoff Spencer, Dili -- Pro-Indonesia militiamen and Indonesian
security forces shot and burned their way through East Timor's
capital unchallenged Sunday, forcing thousands of terrified
civilians to flee from violence set in motion by a vote
overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Indonesia.
With waves of gunfire echoing across the city and militiamen
wielding machetes and guns, fears of civil war have heightened
since the United Nations announced Saturday that 78.5 percent of
East Timor's voters chose independence in Monday's referendum.
The UN compound in Dili was under siege Sunday, with militiamen
circling outside, shooting assault rifles and menacing the
several hundred people inside the compound. Food and water
shortages loomed when 1,000 civilians taking refuge in a school
next door fled into the compound after they were threatened.
The unarmed UN mission is completely dependent on Indonesian
security forces for protection. But many in the Indonesian army
are believed to be allied with the militias.
Casualty reports were impossible to verify, though witness
accounts said scores were killed Sunday in the former Portuguese
"There is every indication that a massacre is taking place,
staged by (Indonesian) military forces," Ana Gomes, who is
Lisbon's diplomatic envoy to Jakarta, told Portugal's TSF radio.
"Over 100 dead would be a conservative estimate." Defense
Minister Gen. Wiranto said Sunday that the army will dispatch
about 1,400 troops to maintain order.
Wiranto was part of a high-level delegation rushed from Jakarta
to meet local authorities and UN officials who organized the
People fled however they could, part of an exodus from the
province that threatened to reach tens of thousands. Some 2,000
huddled at the Dili residence of Bishop Carlos Belo, East Timor's
spiritual leader and co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize. His
diocese office elsewhere was set ablaze.
More than 5,000 terrified civilians fled from Dili's seaport on
ferries bound for nearby islands, while exasperated police said
15,000 people had crowded into the police compound to stay out of
At the airport, civilians clutching their dearest possessions
dashed across the runway, scrambling aboard an air force cargo
plane to fly to safety through skies filled with smoke from
burning buildings. Journalists and other foreigners were also
Foreign Minister Ali Alatas claimed the violence was a result of
anti-independence forces not understanding how the complaints
process against alleged elections irregularities worked, a UN
official said on condition of anonymity.
But doubts about the government's commitment to security
remained. Thousands of Indonesian soldiers and police made no
apparent attempt to rein in the rampaging militias, who lit the
night skies orange with fires. No one ventured outside except to
Leandro Isaac, a spokesman for the pro-independence forces, said
he had a report that up to a dozen people had been killed in the
turbulent Becora district.
In another report, a witness told The Associated Press that
members of a notorious militia were shooting at people --
apparently settlers from Java, Indonesia's most populous island
-- trying to flee aboard ferries. The witness said two people
The butchery begins in East Timor
Agence France Presse - September 6, 1999
Lisbon -- Timorese resistance leaders living abroad warned Sunday
that Indonesia was preparing an "ethnic cleansing" of East Timor
after a landslide vote for indpendence, state news agency Lusa
The National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) said in a
statement issued in Australia that it had evidence Indonesia was
massing between 30,000 to 40,000 troops along the border of East
Timor, in preparation for an "invasion," Lusa said.
"Thirty-six hours after the Timorese celebrated the victory of
independence, Indonesia is preparing a plan of genocide and
social disintegration to literally kill the independence
movement," Lusa quoted the the statement as saying.
Thousands of people have fled to the mountains, it said, charging
that "police are firing indiscriminately and pursuing refugees in
towns nearest the mountains."
In South Africa, Mari Alkatiri, a leader of the Fretilin armed
resistance movement, was quoted Sunday by Lusa as saying that
Indonesia sought to "destroy the social fabric of East Timor
(...) by evacuating the East Timorese toward Indonesian
Alkatiri, who lives in Maputo, Mozambique, has not been to East
Timor for 24 years. He was due in Jakarta for the release
Wednesday of resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
International community betrays the Timorese people
International Federation for East Timor - September 6, 1999
This report has been compiled under extremely difficult
circumstances as the situation in Dili deteriorates by the hour.
Last night (Saturday) there was shooting throughout the night in
the Dili suburb of Becora which continued till sun rise. Also
early this morning hand grenades were heard to be exploding.
Becora is now blockaded -- nobody can get in or out. There is
unconfirmed reports of many killings of men, women and children.
An unconfirmed number of 77 bodies are reported to be scatted
throughout houses, lane and water ways.
Bodies of young children are reported to be among the dead
including one with a twisted neck. There are also reports of
children bodies being thrown on fires. The Red Cross and UNAMET
have been denied access and are under strict orders not to leave
their compounds. Nobody is able to investigate these reports.
There has been one witness that has come into the IFET office to
report on the Becora killings but people are too fearful to move
out of the area. Approximately 1,000 people are seeking refuge in
a local church.
There are also reports of people killed in the mountains above
Dili. Lots of trucks were seen travelling up out of Dili loaded
with uniformed men. Another report estimates that 200 refugees
are at the Protestant Hosana Church.
At 2pm today there was shooting coming from the downtown area of
Dili where the church is situated. At this time there is (at 4pm)
the police moved into the Mahkota hotel and forced journalists
out of their rooms and escorted them to the airport. The building
next to the hotel is on fire.
In the suburb of Balide at 5pm it was reported that buildings
were on fire and 300 refugees were held up in a church school
with Silesian Sisters. The Timor Aid office in this area was
There has been a warning that the Motael Clinic will be attacked
tonight and the building destroyed. There are 3 doctors and 2
nurses, some of them Australian. At present there are 25 patients
and their family members. A total of 57 people people.
The situation has now become crucial. IFET-OP believes that
unless there is an immediate intervention by a peace-keeping
force within days, the consequences will be catastrophe.
Expelled activist tells of Indonesia's payback
The Age - September 6, 1999
Stephen Cauchi -- Dozens, if not hundreds, of East Timorese were
being killed by the Indonesian military as a payback for last
week's independence vote, an Australian activist expelled from
the territory said yesterday.
Dr Andrew McNaughton, who was forced to leave East Timor on
Saturday, said the evacuation of Western journalists and
officials had created an information blanket behind which a
"bloodbath" could take place.
Dr McNaughton said anti-independence militia, working with the
Indonesian military, were carrying out door-to-door searches in
Dili, shooting and burning and "wreaking revenge".
"Everybody knows the entire army are behind the militia -- it's
being said by everyone," he said. "Once the foreigners leave,
they will have cut off the eyes and ears of the outside world to
get on with their dirty work."
Dr McNaughton said he had been told that 20 Timorese refugees
were killed in the grounds of a church in the district of
Maliana. He said six people working for the United Nations
mission were missing.
Dr McNaughton, 45, said the militias were targeting the
"intelligentsia" and "social elite" -- village heads, political
leaders and people such as drivers or translators who had
assisted the media or the United Nations. "They're sitting
ducks," he said.
He arrived in West Timor on Saturday to fly home to Australia, he
said from Darwin. The road to West Timor was barred by many
militia roadblocks, which seemed to be supervised by plain-
clothes army officers.
Dr McNaughton was travelling with two other Australians, Ms Sally
Ann Watson, 35, and Ms Jude Conway, 49. A US policeman working
for the United Nations was expected to make a full recovery in
Royal Darwin Hospital after being shot on Saturday night in East
Timor. The hospital's medical superintendent, Dr Len Notaras,
said the unidentified American had undergone surgery at midnight
to remove a bullet from his left side. A UN aircraft brought him
to Darwin after he was shot in the village of Liquica.
Jakarta's bloody hands: military back killings
Sydney Morning Herald - September 6, 1999
The Indonesian military -- presented to the world as providing
security while East Timor prepares for independence -- is in fact
orchestrating the brutal campaign of killings and intimidation,
according to secret United Nations assessments.
The documents show that in the past week the 14,000 soldiers
serving under officers hand-picked by the Defence Minister,
General Wiranto, have condoned and in some cases directed attacks
by pro-Jakarta militia.
And during many assaults the military has ordered the 8,000-
strong Indonesian police contingent in East Timor to remain
passive -- with open threats to them or their families if they
The revelations come as pro-Jakarta militias stepped up their
attacks following Saturday's announcement that 78.5 per cent of
voters in last Monday's ballot had chosen independence over
autonomy with Indonesia.
Up to 25 deaths have been reported in Dili and there are
unconfirmed reports of 20 people massacred in a church in
As the situation deteriorated, the Australian Defence Force
increased its readiness for a possible evacuation with the
frigates HMAS Darwin and HMAS Anzac joining the navy's high-speed
catamaran in Darwin at the weekend. There are also two United
States warships in the port from the joint exercise with
Australian forces, Operation Crocodile.
At the same time Australia is pressing for a "coalition of the
willing", comprising Australia and a few other countries, to
quickly provide a basic international security force to protect
Australians and other UN personnel in East Timor.
The Prime Minister raised the proposal with Indonesia's President
Habibie on Friday but Mr Howard said yesterday that foreign
troops would not be sent in without Indonesian and UN Security
One of the leaked UN documents relates to the wounding on Friday
of a US policeman working with the UN team which was condemned
yesterday by President Clinton.
The American had been set upon by militia thugs at the
instigation of the military and local police who tried to
intervene were told to stand back, it said. He was recovering
from gunshot wounds in Darwin yesterday.
In another attack, militia were ordered by a group of Indonesian
officers to shoot at trucks carrying UN staff and journalists.
The leaked documents prepared by the United Nations mission to
East Timor (UNAMET) conclude that there had been "a deliberate
strategy to force UNAMET to withdraw from certain regions back to
They found that in some cases during the past few days there have
been "joint operations" including the burning of houses and
attacks on civilians as well as UN personnel, including UN
civilian police (Civpol).
"Civpol strongly believe this series of incidents was
orchestrated by TNI and Polri [Indonesian police] and that the
militias acted with precise instructions as to their targets and
the types of actions to conduct," one report says.
In the western towns of Aileu, Ainaro, Maliana, Liquica and Same
there are specific accounts of abuses, including a threat to burn
down a UN compound by a militia leader who said he was acting on
instructions from the local major.
In Liquica, Indonesian police and military personnel were not
only assisting the militias in an attack "but also shooting
themselves at UN vehicles and their passengers".
[By Craig Skehan, Hamish McDonald, David Jenkins and Mark Dodd]
Army's next move crucial to the nation's future
Sydney Morning Herald - September 6, 1999
David Jenkins, Jakarta -- After two decades of double talk and
self-delusion, Indonesians were yesterday coming to terms with
the people of East Timor having emphatically rejected the nation
that launched a brutal invasion of their half-island territory in
1975, bringing economic benefits but appalling human suffering.
In Jakarta, East Timor's decision to push for independence has
hit like a blow to the face. Many Indonesians are hurt and
For the army, which has run East Timor as a virtual satrapy with
the local Indonesian army (TNI) colonel serving as a virtual
pro-consul, the decision to withdraw from the republic is an
especially bitter pill.
Asked how his military colleagues saw the vote, a retired general
said yesterday: "They all feel like the American Vietnam veterans
feel. Like the Dutch veterans felt after they had to leave
Indonesia in 1950. It is very hard to accept."
As Indonesians face up to the shock of losing their 27th province
and worry about the possible flow-on effects in other restive
territories, they are casting about for explanations and
The list of excuses, most of them fanciful, is not short: the UN
Mission in East Timor (Unamet) was biased; there was undue
pressure from Portugal and Western Europe; the United States and
Australia had an agenda of their own; Catholic priests went from
house to house warning that a vote for autonomy would be a vote
Occasionally there is an acknowledgement that Indonesian actions
might themselves have had an impact. "If the vote is against us
in East Timor," said Lieutenant-General Hasnan Habib, "it is
because of the sins [we have committed there]".
That so many Indonesian leaders were taken aback by the extent of
the vote in favour of independence shows how poorly informed many
members of the political elite have been on East Timor.
The big question is what comes next? Will Indonesian policemen
continue to stand by, arms folded, as army-backed militia gangs
rampage across the territory, taking over towns, setting fire to
buildings, murdering political opponents, creating a climate of
terror and forcing Unamet to circle the wagons in Dili, where its
embattled compound is providing shelter to a number of terrified
East Timorese and to the last two dozen journalists to stay in
If they do, Indonesia could find itself paying a heavy economic
price, quite apart from the damage done to Jakarta's
international reputation by the army's brutal, futile and self-
indulgent policy of pumping up the pro-Jakarta militias.
If there is a bloodbath in East Timor or if foreign nationals are
killed, as distinct from the long-suffering Timorese, Western
donor countries might pull the plug on a $70 billion IMF bail-out
plan. That would trigger a wave of panic among investors and
businessmen, sending the rupiah diving.
The hope still is, of course, that commonsense will prevail and
that the TNI will accept it is time to cut its losses in Timor.
If that were to happen, the army would bring its militia proxies
under control, honouring at last the pledge Indonesia gave to
maintain security in the territory before, during and after the
"I find it almost impossible to pick how the TNI will respond,"
said one analyst. "TNI leaders could end up saying to themselves,
'OK, Timor is gone. We will write that off and concentrate on
"There are obviously people [in the army] who feel strongly about
Timor and who would be happy to try and sow further dissention.
But you would hope that at senior levels they would realise they
are just making a rod for their own back."
One problem is that President B.J. Habibie, who pushed for the
referendum in the face of intense army hostility, does not have
much leverage over the army.
Dr Habibie is seeking re-election as president and he needs the
support of the 38-strong TNI block in the MPR. He is also
courting General Wiranto, the Defence Minister and army
commander, as his vice-presidential running mate. At the same
time, he needs to do all he can to hose down the Timor issue,
given the fall-out from the Bank Bali scandal, which involved the
alleged misuse of $US74million ($113 million) for campaign
If East Timor were to descend into anarchy, with widespread
killing, with the TNI humiliated and with a foreign peacekeeping
force brought in, Dr Habibie's re-election campaign would be dead
in the water.
Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor (ASIET)
PO Box 458, Broadway NSW 2007 Australia
Fax : 61-(0)2-96901381
Email: asiet at peg.apc.org
WWW : http://www.peg.apc.org/~asiet/
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