More on Timor
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Sun Sep 12 11:56:06 MDT 1999
ASIET News Updates - September 12, 1999
* News vacuum as reporters go missing
* Victims 'left to die' on streets where they fell
* UN team visits Timor as Jakarta feels heat
* Death invades a church
* "Absurd" dialogue between UN, Wiranto over Timor
* Thousands take to the streets over East Timor
News vacuum as reporters go missing
South China Morning Post - September 11, 1999
Vaudine England, Jakarta -- Indonesia's Alliance of Independent
Journalists has issued an "urgent action" statement listing
several Indonesian journalists missing in East Timor, as concerns
grow about the difficulty of finding out what is happening in the
Peter Rohe, a journalist with the Jakarta-based Suara Bangsa
daily, last made contact with his editor on Tuesday morning. Two
freelance reporters are also missing in the territory: Joaquim
Rohi and Mindho Rajagoekgoek, who reports for Radio Netherlands.
Tri Agus Siswowohardjo, a journalist, former political prisoner
and member of the local ballot monitoring group, Kiper, is in
hiding somewhere in East Timor.
Reports filtering through from the handful of foreign
journalists left in the besieged United Nations compound in
Dili, and statements from church groups, refugees and
independence activists, suggest a devastating pattern of
atrocities committed across the territory.
East Timorese who have escaped speak of scores of people being
rounded up, the men separated and presumed killed. No
independent witnesses are available.
Experienced journalists in Jakarta are reminded of the time lag
and the stages of disbelief suffered when they tried to report
on the early stages of Cambodia's tragedy from 1975 to 1979,
during which time the Khmer Rouge instituted their "Ground Zero"
policy of mass extermination.
"In our case, it was the volume of evidence from refugees," said
John MacBeth, now bureau chief for the Far Eastern Economic
Review in Indonesia. "We were not surprised when the killing
fields were later discovered.
"Lots of the people coming out had never actually witnessed the
killing, they spoke of people who had disappeared, or the sight
of Khmer Rouge returning with blood on their shoes after taking
"But the most credible reports were from those who were only
hours out. Once people get into refugee camps, the danger is
they're repeating stories from other refugees."
Indonesian military and militias active in West Timor are
severely restricting the ability of journalists to obtain those
Journalists remaining in Dili are subject to the pressures of
the lengthy and frightening siege of the UN compound and a
growing anger at the Indonesian military's behaviour
"It now appears that the forced removal of the press corps from
East Timor is part of a deliberate strategy by the pro-Jakarta
militias, and perhaps their allies in the Indonesian military
itself, to deny the world access to the story of East Timor,"
said the Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance.
Four Indonesian activists are also missing, said Ging Ginanjar,
head of advocacy for the Alliance of Independent Journalists.
His statement named Yeni Rosa Damayanti, Adi Pratomo, Anthony
Listianto and Yakob Rumbiak, all of whom worked for Kiper and
have student activist or political prisoner backgrounds.
Australia's state-run broadcaster has extended its "Radio
Australia" service to East Timor, and plans to reach parts of
central and western Indonesia from today, an official said.but simply a
chaos produced by the
actions of the militias and the plots of some officers,
compounded by the cowardice of decision makers, military and
civilian. The Indonesian establishment has to grasp that its
foolishness is profoundly damaging to Indonesia as well as East
Timor. It is time to live up to the responsibilities that the
word "Merdeka" implies.
Victims 'left to die' on streets where they fell
South China Morning Post - September 11, 1999
Most of the East Timorese killed in the violence that has swept
the capital, Dili, were left to die where they fell on the
street, a French doctor who treated hundreds of wounded in a
city clinic said yesterday.
The Medecins du Monde doctor, who fled the territory on
Wednesday, said he had treated 200 wounded, including 30
children, in the past five weeks.
"It was mainly gunshot wounds, both homemade guns and automatic
weapons. We also had a lot of machete wounds and stabbings," he
said in Darwin.
"I only saw a small amount of the total number of wounded. It
was so dangerous to come to the clinic that people often didn't
even try. "The bodies were left where they were."
The doctor asked not to be named as he hoped to return to East
Timor. "Part of the team is trying to get back to East Timor. We
want to be back in position soon. But I can't get through to the
clinic, nor to the [Carmelite] sisters there. Maybe the clinic
Allegations of widespread killing in East Timor's turmoil are
sweeping fast-growing border refugee camps, where an estimated
50,000 people shelter under the gaze of militiamen accused of
creating the mayhem.
The UN said yesterday it was investigating reports of executions
of East Timorese independence supporters in Indonesian West
Commenting on unconfirmed reports of massacres in the Indonesian
territory, UN mission spokesman David Wimhurst cited sources
which claimed to have eyewitness accounts that independence
activists had been summarily executed in front of witnesses in
West Timor. "I don't have any idea of the numbers," he said.
Many frightened refugees said they were forcibly sent across the
border to camps controlled by the same army and militias
spreading terror at home.
An Australian human rights group yesterday accused Indonesian
soldiers of posing as United Nations Assistance Mission in East
Timor (Unamet) staff to encourage East Timorese to leave the
"The military, posing as Unamet, is telling East Timorese that
Unamet is encouraging them to leave East Timor," the Melbourne-
based East Timor Human Rights Centre said.
It quoted witnesses as saying some Indonesian soldiers in East
Timor were wearing Unamet uniforms, including the mission's blue
The tens of thousands who huddled under blue and orange plastic
tarpaulins in one camp near Atambua, 20km west of the border,
swapped horror stories, but reports of large-scale killings were
impossible to confirm.
"I saw some dead. But I don't know how many or who killed them.
I just tried to get out quickly," said Jesus da Costa, a taxi
driver who fled Dili on Tuesday at the height of the violence.
The mass military evacuation of East Timorese to West Timor
continued yesterday as the Indonesian Government announced 21
billion rupiah and 1,500 tonnes of rice had been earmarked for
the refugees in West Timor. But the state Antara news agency said
there was nothing on offer for those left behind.
UN team visits Timor as Jakarta feels heat
Reuters - September 11, 1999
Vorasit Satienlerk, Dili -- A UN Security Council team toured
the ruined capital of East Timor on Saturday as the world
community drew up plans for a security force to restore peace to
the bloodied territory.
The UN Security Council was due to open debate on East Timor on
Saturday after Secretary-General Kofi Annan told Indonesia it
could face responsibility for crimes against humanity there
unless it allowed peacekeepers in.
Jakarta is under huge pressure to halt the massacres, carried out
by anti-independence militia angered by the territory's recent,
overwhelming vote in favour of ending Indonesian rule.
The UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) on Saturday reported a
lull in violence around its compound in the capital, Dili.
The five-member Security Council team, in Dili on an inspection
mission, travelled with armed forces chief General Wiranto amid
A UNAMET spokesman said the night had been quiet with only
sporadic shooting around the compound in Dili, scarred by days
of murder, burning and looting. Thousands have been killed and
the United Nations has voiced concerns about serious food
US President Bill Clinton blamed the Indonesian military for
backing the killings by pro-Jakarta militiamen and also urged
Indonesia to accept foreign peacekeepers. Jakarta said on
Saturday an international peacekeeping force was an option. But
it has yet to give any go-ahead.
Dili's houses have been torched and residents are either dead or
have fled. UNAMET now offers symbolic protection to a dwindling
group of pro-independence refugees, many of whom have fled for
the hills behind the UN compound.
Mission official Pat O'Sullivan said there were about 1,000
refugees still in the compound and there was enough food.
"There are a lot of children running about which makes it
difficult to make an exact count. Their mood is good, under the
circumstances," he said. A member of the Security Council
mission, British delegate Jeremy Greenstock, said before leaving
for East Timor: "We are not going to go to war with Indonesia on
"It needs to be with the cooperation of Indonesia. I think
Indonesia now realises that the burden of security has to be
Security Council president Peter van Walsum said the council
would await the return of the team to New York before adopting
any resolution or issuing a formal statement.
The mission has been trying to persuade Indonesia to allow an
international force to go to East Timor to quell the violence in
the former Portuguese colony that Indonesia annexed in 1976. But
Indonesia has insisted it can handle the situation alone.
Clinton, in New Zealand for a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders,
said Indonesia must request a UN peacekeeping force. Asked when
this might happen, he said: "I think you'll see a development in
the next couple of days."
"Today we suspended all military sales and we continue to work to
persuade the Indonesians to support a United Nations operation
to go in and secure the safety of the people there and that's
what we have to continue to do," Clinton said.
The United States and other nations are unwilling to send in
peacekeepers without an invitation from Indonesia, the world's
largest Moslem nation.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Australia, New
Zealand, Malaysia, Britain, Canada, the Philippines and Portugal
had given firm commitments to participate in a UN-mandated
peacekeeping force if Indonesia consented.
Howard, also at the New Zealand summit, said the United States,
Sweden, Thailand and France had agreed in principle to support
such a force in a way that had yet to be defined.
He had said previously that up to 8,000 peacekeepers would be
needed for such a force, which Australia would lead. Dramatic
television footage brought in to Darwin showed the storming this
week of a Red Cross compound in Dili.
Refugees cowered under fire from pro-Jakarta militia wearing red
and white bandanas -- Indonesia's national colours. Women and
children were herded from the building as Indonesian police, some
drunk and asking the cameraman for beer, sat and watched. A
spokeswoman for East Timor resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta
said Clinton had agreed to meet him on Monday.
US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said on Friday the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank should make any
lending to Indonesia contingent on how it handles East Timor.
Death invades a church
International Herald Tribune - September 11, 1999
Kupang, West Timor -- The Reverend Dewanto was the first to die,
said Sister Mary Barudero. The militiamen had lined up outside
the old wooden church filled with refugees in the East Timorese
town of Suai on Monday afternoon, and the young Indonesian
priest stepped out dressed in his clerical robes to meet the
A burst of gunfire cut him down. The Reverend Francisco followed.
The blood soaked his white robes. The militiamen waited for the
senior parish priest, the Reverend Hilario. When he did not
emerge, they kicked down the door to his study and sprayed him
with automatic fire.
One of the nuns watched from the window of her nearby house at
the massacre that followed, said Sister Barudero. The militiamen
entered the church filled with refugees, and began firing long
bursts from their weapons. Then they threw hand grenades into
the huddled victims. One, two, three grenades. As they left,
blood flowed down the doorstep.
Inside, there had been only young children and women, babies at
their mothers' breasts, and pregnant women, she said. The men had
fled days earlier.
"They went to the church because that's where they felt safe,"
said the nun, 64, vainly fighting her tears. "They felt being
near the priests was protection."
Her account of the massacre, which was confirmed Thursday by the
Vatican, is one of the first graphic descriptions of the violence
that has wracked East Timor at the hands of Indonesian
military-backed militiamen who oppose independence for the
Among the first victims have been the Roman Catholic clergy, seen
by the militia as having supported independence for East Timor.
The nun, a nurse, agreed to talk because, she said, "I have
lived my life. I am not afraid to die."
Other refugees still feel the militia's reach in the supposed
safety of West Timor, and have been warned not to talk to
reporters. Sister Barudero's colleague, who watched the
massacre, has fled to Australia but still is afraid to be
identified, she said.
The fears of those in West Timor are not exaggerated. The
militiamen who have brought destruction to East Timor have taken
up control of the 84,000 refugees now in camps in West Timor,
and move around freely in the West Timor capital of Kupang. Some
are armed; some seem intent on intimidating foreigners and
refugees. Foreigners have not been allowed in the camps.
At a West Timor refugee camp in Atambua, on the border with East
Timor, a man identified as a supporter of independence was killed
Wednesday, apparently by militiamen.
An official of the Catholic Relief Services, who just returned
from Atambua, provided some confirmation of reports that pro-
Independence refugees had been forcibly removed from East Timor.
"If you ask the refugees once, they say they left because it was
unsafe, and they had to leave their houses," said William Openg,
an Indonesian relief worker for the Catholic services. "But if
you ask again, they will tell you that the soldiers terrorized
them and made them come."
Although many in the refugee camps are said to be opponents of
independence, those who support the outcome of the ballot may not
"They are afraid to show their face," said Agapitus Prasetya, a
Unicef worker who has been in the refugee camps. "It could cost
them their lives. The militias are everywhere."
Anti-foreigner passions have been whipped up by the militias, and
even Indonesian staff members distributing food to the refugees
strip the Unicef signs off their cars, he said.
"The militias are killing people, and the people are threatened
here in West Timor," said a Catholic clergyman who fled from
Dili only to find militiamen in control of refugee camps in West
Timor. "Where is the law and order in Indonesia? The militias,
the military and the police are above the law."
He and several other clergy members described their flight from
East Timor on the condition that their names not be used. They
said they feared consequences from the Indonesian military and
Timorese militias. One sister who lived in Dili said the
gunfire began about three hours after the ballot result
approving independence was announced last Saturday.
"It was really frightening. We couldn't go out of the house," she
said. "We could see a lot of fires. It looked like they would use
diesel gas, because the fires would be big black balls, and then
you could see white smoke from houses. That was everywhere."
On Monday, she and other nuns decided it was too dangerous, and
left in an old truck in a convoy escorted by police. As they
passed through Dili, she saw a scene of fires and lawlessness,
"It was remarkable," she said. "There was shooting going on, and
people were running for their lives. But others were looting the
stores, very calmly, as though they were so relaxed." She said
she saw some looters loading goods into military trucks.
In one section, "all the stores were razed," she said. "I saw a
lot of military, and of course, the militias. Some people were
ransacking, and some people were looting. The whole place was in
ruins, except for the government buildings. And there were a lot
of people moving out, because their houses were burning."
Another member of the clergy said that the gunfire intensified in
the days and nights after the referendum results. "God, it was
frightening," he said. "There were motorcycles running all over,
bringing military and militias. You could hear the big guns of
the military going on."
On Tuesday, the water, electricity and telephone lines were cut
in his section of Dili, and he decided to leave, said the
clergyman. He passed many burned houses, he said. "It seemed the
pro-independence houses were targeted. But the referendum was
approved four-to-one, so they didn't have to go very far."
"I never saw any instance of refugees being forced by gunpoint,"
said a priest. "Our people did not want to leave. But they were
told if they stayed, the houses would be burned and they might
be killed. They were forced out by fear."
The militias were particularly strong in the western areas of
East Timor, where Sister Barudero and four other nuns ran a
hospital in Suai, and where Roman Catholic priests ran the
church where the massacre occurred. Sister Barudero said she
had not intended to leave, even after the men fled, even after
more victims of the rising violence came to the hospital, even
after she and her nuns had to dig a grave for a victim on the
grounds of the hospital. The victim's family was too afraid to
claim him, she said. But after the massacre, "There was no one
left to help. They had all left or been killed.
"And I knew, if we stayed, we could be killed," she said. "I am
old. I'm ready to die. But the young sisters would not go unless
I went. They have many years left to help people. Finally, I
said, pack what you can. We will leave."
"Absurd" dialogue between UN, Wiranto over Timor
Agence France Presse - September 11, 1999
London -- A meeting between Indonesian armed forces chief Wiranto
and a UN Security Council delegation in Jakarta Friday was a
dialogue of the "absurd," The Independent said Saturday.
The daily paper's reporter David Usborne, who attended the
meeting incognito, said General Wiranto systematically brushed
aside accusations of massive violence in East Timor, even
producing graphs purporting to show just small numbers of
attacks that were "surreal in their dishonesty."
Wiranto, flanked by 20 other generals throughout the meeting, was
quoted as saying: "Our commitment to handling the problem should
not be doubted."
In the same report, Namibia's UN ambassador, Martin Andjaba,
squarely confronted the general's contention that the Indonesia
army (TNI) was doing enough to protect the East Timorese.
"We do not believe them ... The killing continues even as we sit
here. In fact, the situation has worsened," the British newspaper
quoted Andjaba as saying. "You are failing the international
community, you are failing the people of East Timor and you are
failing Indonesia," he told Wiranto. "Perhaps it is a question of
lack of political will on your side."
Wiranto, while saying he would allow foreign humanitarian workers
to return to East Timor, rejected the despatch of foreign
peacekeeping troops "because it is relevant to the dignity of
During the meeting, a delegate of the five-member team received a
call on a mobile phone from the UN compound in Dili, the capital
of East Timor, saying that the compound was under siege again by
militia carrying weapons banned under martial law.
Wiranto, saying he had information by phone from his own
commander in East Timor, dismissed the latest accusations,
however. "There is no trouble, the situation is peaceful," he was
quoted as saying.
Usborne described the conflicting telephone stories as a "cameo
of the absurd" dialogue between the United Nations and
Indonesia. In the midst of the exchange, Wiranto invited the
five ambassadors to play golf, he reported.
Thousands take to the streets over East Timor
Australian Associated Press - September 12, 1999
Ordinary Australians took to the streets in their thousands today
demanding urgent government action over the slaughter in East
Protesters stormed Prime Minister John Howard's Sydney office,
blockaded airline terminals and maintained vigils as nation-wide
anger continued to mount over the genocide in the violence-
The anti-Indonesia demonstrations called on the Australian
government to withdraw recognition of Indonesia's sovereignity of
East Timor and to immediately send in armed peacekeeping forces.
About 20,000 protesters took over Sydney streets to broadcast
their condemnation of Australia's refusal to act on peacekeeping
forces without Indonesian permission and a UN mandate.
"Make the Australian government do what the Australian people
want -- send troops in," these protesters chanted. Wielding
banners emblazoned with slogans such as "Howard You Coward" and
"East Timor -- Blood on Howard's hands" a breakaway group of
protesters battered their way into the building containing Prime
Minister John Howard's office.
To screams of "UN in, Indonesia out" the group of about 30
protesters rammed their way into the building, buckling the front
door and occupying the lifts for a short time.
The break-in was a mere 15 minute episode during a five hour
rally which featured demands for the federal government to cut
all ties with Indonesia. It followed a CFMEU push for a national
consumer boycott of Indonesian products and services.
Spokesman Andrew Ferguson also threatened Australian retailers
they would be picketed if they did not take Indonesian goods off
Meanwhile, dozens of building workers and East Timorese blocked
Garuda's passenger check-in area at Melbourne Airport today,
preventing many passengers from boarding a flight to Bali.
Channel Ten said the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy
Union (CFMEU), checked boarding passes at the departure gates,
preventing those Bali-bound passenger from going through and
cheering through those off to other destinations.
The flight took off, but many angry passengers were not aboard.
Union spokesman Martin Kingham said: "We had a payload of 170 and
of those 170 only four got on the plane".
And about 30 people maintained the continuing vigil outside the
Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne's inner city Queens Road,
following today's 150-strong free Timor rally.
In Brisbane, unionists, children and nuns were among well over
1,000 protesters who packed City Hall for a rally in support of
Jose Teixiera, a spokesman for the Brisbane-based Timorese
community group East Timor National Resistance Council, said one
way of showing Indonesia how Australians felt about the
atrocities in the troubled province was to call for the boycott
of Indonesia at next year's Sydney Olympics.
He said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should be
asked to examine whether it was "proper" for Indonesian athletes
to compete against those from countries seeking Indonesia's
withdrawal from East Timor.
And in Adelaide more than 500 people marched to Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer's office, the Indonesian consulate and
Parliament House, where a vigil began yesterday.
Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor group activist
Emma Webb said the vigil would continue for as long as it took
for peace to return to East Timor. Meanwhile, federal parliament
is expected to consider a motion to recognise the sovereignty of
Democrats senator Vicky Bourne told a Sydney protest she would
ask Independent Peter Andren to put forward the motion at the
next sitting of parliament.
Australia is at the forefront of international calls for a
multinational peacekeeping force for East Timor and has offered
to send up to 4,500 troops, but Mr Howard refuses to act without
Indonesian permission and a UN mandate.
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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