Subject: ETO: Breakdown of Indonesian Armed Forces stationed in ET
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 20:04:37 +0100
From: Comissão para os Direitos do Povo Maubere <>

East Timor Observatory / Observatório Timor Leste / Observatoire Timor-Oriental

All peoples have the right to self-determination... all armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence. (Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples - UN Gen.Ass. Resolution 1514, 14/12/1960)

Ref: FA03 - 1999/02/10eng

Subject: Breakdown of Indonesian Armed Forces stationed in East Timor

Summary: Post-Suharto Indonesia pledged to progressively withdraw its troops from East Timor. Hundreds of computerised documents originating from ABRI (Indonesia’s Armed Forces), smuggled out of East Timor, reveal that troop numbers are far higher than those the authorities are admitting to. The documents also provide information on the presence of Timorese in Indonesia’s armed forces and reveal that there is a danger of the war becoming "Timorised". All this information should be carefully analysed when Indonesia, in need of economic aid, is making all kinds of promises but subsequently, in East Timor, does just the opposite to what it has pledged.


  • 1. Last June, the UN Secretariat quoted official Indonesian sources as stating that Indonesia was maintaining "7 Battalions in the Territory, with between 600 and 650 men per battalion". However, the Secretariat also referred to other sources that had estimated 15,000 as being the number of Indonesian troops in East Timor. (Working Paper A/AC.109/2111).
  • 2. Why is Indonesia deploying such high numbers of military personnel in its "27th Province" if, as it claims, the guerrillas have been "reduced to 200 men, of whom only half have firearms", and if the Timorese population is in favour of integration in Indonesia?
  • 3. On 26 June 1998, Bishop Belo, the 1996 Nobel Prize laureate, met with Suharto’s successor, Yusuf Habibie, and asked that Indonesia withdraw its troops from the territory. The new President promised a "progressive" withdrawal. In late July, 400 men were withdrawn. In early August, a further 900 troops were sent home. The withdrawal, however, stopped short there.
  • 4. At that time, Lt. Col. Suratman, Military Commander of the "27th Province", stated that troops in East Timor numbered 12,000. After the withdrawal of 1,300 men, 10,700 had been left. (AP, Dili, 8 Aug. 98). Two months later, while denying all the reported sightings of reinforcements entering the territory, Indonesian Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas, stated that the number of military personnel in East Timor was about 6,000. Indonesia’s chief diplomat insisted, however, that these were "non-combatant troops" (AFP, Sidney, 26 Oct. 98). The spokesman for the Bali Military Command, which covers East Timor, went even further: "We have only 3,000 soldiers in East Timor", said Lt. Col. Made Runa (Reuters, 30 Oct. 98).

The Facts: The information that refutes all these claims by Indonesian leaders is contained in official documents produced by the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) themselves. The documents, which were smuggled out and made public in Australia in late October 1998, were carefully examined by experts and by Western diplomats posted in Indonesia. They concluded that the documents were, in fact, authentic (BBC, 29 Oct. 98 and AFP, 30 Oct. 98). The most recent figures found among the documents refer to August 1998. The following data was taken from a chart containing personnel statistics for that month:

1. ABRI separates the personnel it deploys in East Timor into two broad categories: "organik" troops, meaning those normally based in the "27th Province", and "penugasan", referring to troops ordinarily stationed in other provinces, but temporarily posted to East Timor.

2. In August 1998, the "organik" troops included:

  • · 7,330 officers, non-commissioned officers and private soldiers. They are mostly of Indonesian origin. Although two of the seven "organik" battalions (Battalion 744 and 745) are usually presented as being made up of Timorese, the experts who analysed the documents concluded that the names of all the officers and most of the soldiers in those battalions were, in fact, Indonesian.
  • · 2,566 "milsas". These are locally recruited troops. Although some may be Indonesian residents in East Timor, nearly all are Timorese, and belong to ABRI personnel.
  • · 929 "wanra". These are professional soldiers, also locally recruited, but they belong to a force of auxiliary troops. They take part in operations like the others, but are not considered ABRI personnel and do not have the same benefits as them.
  • · 1,563 "PNS". These are civil servants working for ABRI, who have undergone military training but whose duties are administrative.

1. Within the "penugasan" category (i.e. troops normally stationed in other provinces but now posted to East Timor as temporary reinforcements) there are two distinct branches:

  • · 7,938 ABRI (this figure does not include Timorese soldiers).
  • · 1,200 locally recruited "wanra". Although they are grouped within the "wanra" branch, these 1,200 men belong to paramilitary groups that go by the names of: "Tim Saka", "Tim Alfa", "Tim Makikit", "Tim Halilintar", etc. They are under the direct command of "penugasan" troops, and usually receive their orders from the "Kopassus" elite troops. · The Indonesian authorities have always denied having any control over these paramilitary groups that are responsible for many of the most flagrant human rights violations. However, the ABRI statistics charts clearly include these paramilitary groups – 13 in all – among its personnel, allocating each group to a District, and even registering the casualties among them. There was never any doubt about the ABRI-paramilitary groups link but, until now, there had never been such tangible proof. These groups are usually used to carry out "dirty work"
  • · Although "penugasan" troops are supposed to be only temporarily posted to East Timor, the statistical charts now available confirm previous reports that such troops had been permanently stationed in East Timor. This "subtle" distinction between types of troops has enabled Indonesian leaders to "forget" the "penugasan" when referring to troop numbers in East Timor. Numbers of "penugasan" increased at the very same time as Indonesian authorities were claiming to be reducing troops in the territory: in November 1997 there were 6,172 "penugasan", while in August 1998 there were 7,938.
  • · The number of "penugasan" troops was exactly the same in July as it was in August 1998, and this is odd for two reasons: (a) because the authorities claimed they had withdrawn 1,300 men at that very time, and (b) because there were numerous sightings of further Indonesian battalions entering East Timor during that period, complete with accurate details of the battalions’ and forces’ identification. However, there is no record on the statistical charts for either (a) or (b). This raises the possibility that entire battalions, that are not included on official military personnel records, are being sent to East Timor. These "off the record" forces would exacerbate further the following conclusions.


  • 1. Based on the August 1998 figures, which give a total of 21,540 ABRI personnel stationed in East Timor, Indonesia is deploying 1 member of its Armed Forces per 40 inhabitants in East Timor (and that is taking into account neither the 1,577 PNS, nor the "off the record" battalions seen entering the territory). This ratio is between 7 and 9 times higher than the military personnel per inhabitant ratio in Indonesia.
  • 2. The total number of Timorese incorporated in the Indonesian Armed Forces is not known. However, what the available figures do indicate is that their number is wholly out of proportion to the 200 guerrillas. Among the Timorese in ABRI are the "milsas" (2,566), the "wanra" (929), and the trained paramilitaries (1,200). To this total of almost 4,700 men, a further unknown number of Timorese from among the 7,330 officers, non-commissioned officers and private soldiers of the "organik" troops must also be added. There is also an unknown number of Timorese among the 1,577 PNS (who have undergone military training), and among the large number of "ratih" – young men given military training in preparation for joining the "wanra".
  • 3. The ground has been dangerously prepared for a "Timorization" of the war.

Recommendations: We suggest that you ask your government and/or other authorities/organisations:

  • · To contact the Indonesian Government and the East Timorese independence leader, Xanana Gusmão, and press for a peaceful transition.
  • · To appeal to the Indonesian Government to immediately disarm all paramilitary groups and reduce the numbers of its troops in the territory.
  • · To urge the United Nations to send observers without delay and, at a later stage, to set up a police force to maintain security.

Observatory for the monitoring of East Timor’s transition process a programme by the ‘Comissão para os Direitos do Povo Maubere’ and the ecumenical group ‘A Paz é Possível em Timor Leste’ Coordinator: Cristina Cruz ----------------------- Rua Pinheiro Chagas, 77 2ºE - 1050-176 Lisboa - Portugal ph.: 351 1 317 28 60 - fax: 351 1 317 28 70 - e-mail:

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