Subject: affet:analysis of RT report
Date: Fri, 08 Jan 1999 09:05:34 +0930
From: Rob Wesley-Smith <> Organization: Australians for a Free East Timor (AFFET) /Troppo Rural Consulting

This report by Reuters really requires some detailed response. I don't mean to target Mr Thatcher particularly, since AP reports among others make similar errors, and I know it is difficult for journalists in Jakarta, and we are always grateful for any interest in East Timor or West Papua. RW-S.

> No East Timor massacre but situation dangerous - source > by Jonathan Thatcher 07 Jan 1999 > > JAKARTA, Jan 7 (Reuters) - There is no evidence of any recent > massacre by Indonesian troops in the troubled province East Timor > but the situation there is beginning to get out of hand, a human > rights source said on Thursday. > > "There wasn't a massacre, but there were several rather serious > incidents", the source, who asked not to be identified but who has > access to first-hand information on East Timor, told Reuters. > > Jakarta has denied mass killings during military operations against > rebels in the East Timor region of Alas in November. ...

Dear Jonathon,

You rely on an unnamed 'human rights source' in Jakarta who has 'access to first hand information on East Timor'. This source tells you, and is the basis for this story, "There wasn't a massacre, but there were several rather serious incidents". Then you say Jakarta has 'denied mass killings'.

First the semantics between a 'massacre' and 'several rather serious incidents' resulting in the killings of 11 East Timorese according to your report. When does serious killings become a massacre? When has Jakarta ever described any slaughter in East Timor as anything other than 'an incident'. Even the Dili Massacre of 12 Nov 1991, which including mopping up murders and elimination of witnesses over the next say 3 days which killed around 500 East Timorese, is still regarded as an 'incident', (and has still not been investigated to any sort of International standard.)

When has Jakarta ever admitted 'mass killings' in East Timor?, yet we know about 300,000 East Timorese have been directly murdered by the Indonesian military or indirectly murdered from war-induced causes such as starvation, malnutrition and illness.

Many people now have 'access to to first-hand information on East Timor' including no doubt Mario Carrascalao and Bishop Belo, who both say their information is that over 40 people were killed in the Alas area. Others claim up to 100 killed. Funny how NO investigation has been allowed by the Indonesians. They even denied access to UN East Timor envoy Tamrat Samuel in December (though I don't recall hearing the UN complain about this).

Before you reject that, it cannot be said that the visits by an ICRC representative, and by the Australian military attache, represent credible 'Inquiries'.

The ICRC rep does not have credentials to do an investigation, has not disclosed his methodology in his brief visit done whilst the Indonesian military kept all others out, and openly stated he 'found no evidence of mass killing'. This is NOT the same as 'finding evidence that there was no mass killing'. Most commentators seem to fudge that important distinction. Most understand the ICRC does not make public statements on such matters. When has ICRC ever publically identified 'massacres' or killings in East Timor? (Does it deny around 300,000 have been killed 1975-98?) ICRC relies on host country goodwill to remain in any given place. This little effort by ICRC has damaged its reputation to many, as can be seen by several critical analyses posted.

The Australian military attache: 'According to our contacts, the Australian Military Attache who went to Alas did the following: arrived in helicopter, spoke to military commander for ten minutes, ignored the local priest, ignored the people holed up in the church, left'. This information from people directly in touch with first hand information on East Timor shows what sort of investigation occurred. Even one of this attache's predecessors (Bob Lowry) yesterday pointed out how this man would have been entirely reliant on Indonesian military sources for his investigation.

> Australia's SBS television on Wednesday night featured East Timorese > who had fled their villages and taken refuge in the capital Dili > following reports that Indonesian troops had massacred about 40 > people in the village of Alas. > > The Jakarta source said six people were known to have been killed and > another three are missing, presumed dead, in the 2-week military > operation which followed the killing of three soldiers and a civilian > on November 9. > > At least two more people were killed by troops in subsequent > operations, in which property was also wrecked, he said.

> "It's quite dangerous. You get the impression things are getting a > little out of hand on both sides", he said.

Yes, entirely agree with the above para.

> "East Timor soldiers are not fully under control and (jailed rebel > leader Xanana) Gusmao can call for calm but no one's listening".

Excuse me! We are talking about up to 100 East Timorese killed here, (we don't know how many exactly, which is why we need a decent UN sanctioned Inquiry), and at least 1,000 people displaced and in a dire situation because of the Indonesian violence including the admitted burning down of 40 homes in a reign of terror.

What about the Indonesian soldiers 'out of control' for 24 years!! The Indonesians are now arming 'paramilitaries'. They are fomenting troubles between groups in East Timor impoverished and alienated due to the brutal illegal Indonesian military occupation, and then will claim that the time is not right to withdraw their troops, and that the East Timorese cannot govern themselves. This is a similar tactic to their 2 year campaign of destabilisation during 1974 and 1975 called "Operasi Komodo", which incidentally killed the 5 journalists at Balibo 16 Oct 1975. Most do not factor this deliberate destabilisation into their analyses. (Ask Yunus Yosfiah first just if he was in Balibo 16 Oct 1975).

> Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, with the > tacit backing of the United States, annexing it the next year. > Its internationally condemned rule there has combined substantial > financial assistance with brutal repression in which tens of > thousands of East Timorese have died.

Yes to the above except for the 'financial assistance' furphy. Where is the evidence for this? Budget figures in Jakarta do NOT equate with assistance to East Timorese in East Timor. Most of the money is to support the military occupation byabout 20,000 troops and another 10,000 at least auxilliaries. Roads and bridges are built for military access. Schools are built for indoctrination in Indonesian. There were more 'fertility control clinics' in East Timor than Health clinics a few years ago. Most East Timorese do not trust Indonesian health clinics anyway due to proven records of interference. Further, many Indonesian generals have become rich out of East Timor, the country is devastated, the sandalwood is devastated. So why the glib repetition by commentators and reporters of Indonesian propaganda about the riches poured into East Timor. That country would have been incalculably far far better off without Indonesian invasion and money over the last 25 years - can anyone deny this?

> Indonesia has failed to completely crush a small-scale guerrilla > movement, and analysts say there is widespread contempt in the > impoverished territory for Jakarta's rule. > > Portugal and Indonesia are due to continue negotiations in February > over the future of East Timor. > > Last month, Indonesia warned that it might delay a promised reduction > in its combat troops there if there was more unrest.

Yes, you see the plan.

> Indonesia also faces separatist tensions in the staunchly Moslem > province of Aceh and the remote eastern territory of Irian Jaya. > Violence has erupted in Aceh in recent weeks, leaving at least 25 > people dead.

How can people in East Timor be 'separatists' when the country has never been joined to Indonesia in any legal manner, or in any manner accepted by even a simple majority of the population. This is an Indonesian propaganda term, like 'GPK', or even using Fretilin for Falintil.

Also the people of WEST PAPUA never had a proper act of self-determination, their annexation by Indonesia is also a brutal and genocidal action which is totally unjustified by history, geography, ethnography, or morality, and the sanctioning of this by the UN is one of its most unjustified and appalling acts which must be reversed. I would argue the use of 'separatist' is not reasonable there either, how about 'freedom fighters' or 'nationalists'.

* * * I append the sl editted affet posting by myself of 15/16th December:

Meanwhile there's alarming news posted of lots more troops and refugees in East Timor. I got NO media or interest from the news of 15 Dec of 600 troops landed in Dili.

There can be NO genuine autonomy whilst Indonesian troops remain in place. STOP THE SELLOUT! Rob Wesley-Smith affet

16th: Further to the following posting on regEasttimor internet, I have more news about the visit by the Australian military attache to Alas, which completely confirms our well justified cynicism about it and Downer's response. Wes

* to: affet: more troops in Dili Tue, 15 Dec 1998 From: Rob Wesley-Smith <>

Latest news is that 600 more troops arrived in Dili on board a ship called the MV 504 on Tuesday morning 15 Dec 1998.

Affet challenges Australian Foreign Minister Mr Alexander Downer's military attache to confirm or deny that piece of information, since he's had so much practice denying Indonesian troops have had anything more than a garden tea party at Alas.

If Indonesia has nothing to hide in the Alas area, why do they keep credible observers out?

* See also this posting 11 Dec re the Alas region: LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Indonesian troops attacked East Timorese civilians in a village in the disputed territory, killing one person and wounding 22, an East Timor independence group in exile said Friday. The attack took place Tuesday near Cailaco in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, according to a statement by the pro-independence Christian Democratic Union of East Timor.

Placido dos Santos, a 28-year-old farmer, was tortured and killed by Indonesian soldiers during the attack, the group said. Three others were in a coma due to injuries they suffered in the attack, citing resistance sources in Dili. The statement, released in Lisbon, also listed the names of 19 men it said were wounded, eight seriously, and 26 others who were missing. There was no independent confirmation of the attack, and Indonesian officials were was not immediately available for comment. end

[Don't worry, this will be denied by Alexander Downer just as soon as he can get his military attache to have a drink with his Indonesian equivalents and issue a statement doubting the credibility of all East Timorese patriots and their allies. Wes]

* LATEST News from East Timor Wed am 16 Dec 1998

The situation in very bad in the countryside. Paramilitaries are being armed at a great rate to enforce the autonomy.

According to our contacts, the Australian Military Attache who went to Alas did the following: arrived in helicopter, spoke to military commander for ten minutes, ignored the local priest, ignored the people holed up in the church, left.

What an outrage. Affet repeats the A ET Network demand that a full international open investigation of the events in the Alas region be conducted immediately. This is also needed to prevent further atrocities. The vast preponderance of credible evidence suggests that over 40 people have been massacred in the area, perhaps many more. Without providing credible evidence of methodology or good intent, both ICRC and Downer's emissary have done their best to support the Indonesian military position. Only a proper Inquiry can sort this out.

Rob Wesley-Smith + 61 8 89832113 0419 807 175

PS I would appreciate receiving the email of Reuters in Jakarta and Sydney, AP, AAP Jakarta and AFP Jakarta and Sydney.

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