Subject: NGO: Summary of rights violations by the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission - East Timor
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 13:15:24 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

[ "As one can clearly see from this summary, human rights violations continued during the period of January to December 1998. The Justice and Peace Commission remains concerned with the continuing high number of human rights violations perpetrated by the state against East Timorese civilians..."]

50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

JANUARY – DECEMBER 1998

A summary of human rights violations based on reports, complaints, and investigations conducted by the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission - Justitia et Pax - East Timor (1)

On December 10 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which contains a list of fundamental human rights principles. The purpose of the UDHR was to establish "a standard joint achievement for all people and all nations". Since then, several legally binding international and regional covenants and treaties relating to human rights have been adopted by many state members. These covenants and treaties have embodied many of the principles enshrined in the UDHR. Social and cultural rights have also been included.

Under Humanitarian Law, in order to maintain peace, it is less clear whether international rules can be used to prohibit human rights violations and used to resolve conflicts. Therefore any form of peacefully resolving conflicts should be institutionalised and promoted in order to bring an end to all armed conflicts and maintain peace.

In this context, in order to strengthen human rights generally in the world and specifically in East Timor there must be respect for all human beings regardless of ethnicity, religion, race and skin colour. It is therefore tremendously important that all human beings celebrate together the golden anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The people of East Timor are still searching for peace and justice, still searching for a way to better protect and promote their human rights.

To celebrate the golden year of the UDHR, the Justice and Peace Commission presents its progress report of its work in the field of human rights during the period of January – December 1998.

During January to December 1998, human rights violations in East Timor occurred in all the four pastoral regions in the territory. There are 31 parishes in these four regions and each parish falls under the responsibility of a parish priest. Human rights data is collected from each parish priest as well as other sources of the Justice and Peace Commission. The four pastoral regions are divided as follows:

1. East Pastoral Region consisting of the parishes of Baucau, Laga, Manatuto, Lospalos, Ossu, Viqueque, Soibada, Uatulari and Venilale. Middle Pastoral Region consisting of the parishes of Aileu, Ainaro, Turiscain, Wekiar/Fatuberlihu, Manufahi/Same, Alas, Maubisse, Lete-Foho and Ermera. Dili Pastoral Region consisting of the parishes of Vila Verde, Motael, Balide, Becora, Comoro, Dare and surrounding areas. West Pastoral Region consisting of the parishes of Liquica, Balibo, Maliana, Bobonaro, Covalima/Suai, Fohorem and Oecusse.

The main types of human rights violations perpetrated in East Timor are arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention, extra-judicial executions, involuntary and/or enforced disappearances, intimidation and persecution, torture and ill-treatment, rape and sexual abuse. There have also been violations in relation to land and labour/workers rights.

All the above-mentioned types of human rights violations are violations of civil, political, social, economical and cultural rights embodied in the covenants and treaties to which most UN member states are signatory.

During the period January to December 1998, the Justice and Peace Commission received 656 cases of human rights violations committed by the state against East Timorese civilians. These cases were based on results from investigations, fact-finding field trips as well as from complaints from victims and their families made to the Diosis in Dili. These cases clearly indicate that violations have continued despite the change of leadership in Jakarta.

The Justice and Peace Commission also conducts further investigations on existing cases in order to follow them up with the local authorities, so as to reach a satisfactory conclusion to the cases. The main violations experienced by East Timorese civilians at the first level are usually intimidation, persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention. Many of these civilians were often accused of being members of the Communist Party Movement (GPK) or clandestine resistance or guerrillas and were often unjustly accused of committing violence against other civilians and were accordingly charged under Article 8 of the Constitution No. 14/1970. In this way, local authorities usually justify arbitrary arrest and detention of innocent civilians.

The data collected for this report is not representative of all the violations committed by the state against East Timorese civilians. As previously mentioned, it is a report based on information received from the pastoral regions, however, the Justice and Peace Commission is sometimes hindered in obtaining further human rights information from the regions because of insufficient human resources. Most of the perpetrators of human rights violations are members of local authorities, including the military and police. Other perpetrators include groups established and armed by the military such as Team Alfa, Team Railakan, Team Makikit, Team Saka, Team Sakunar and Team Halilintar.

During the period January to December 1998, the Justice and Peace Commission received the following number of cases:

Arbitrary arrest and detention - 212 cases, a decrease in number compared with last year.

Arbitrary Execution - 54 cases, this number is triple the number of killings reported last year.

Involuntary or Enforced Disappearances - 19 cases, no improvement from last year.

Intimidation Treatment and Persecutions - 234 cases, this is double the number of cases reported in 1997, a clear indication that the people in East Timor are still not secure.

Torture and ill treatment - 89 cases, this is quadruple the number of cases reported last year.

Rape and sexual abuse and other gender-specific violations - 14 cases, an increase of almost five times the number of cases reported in 1997; a clear indication of the continuing pattern of systematic rape of East Timorese women and girls perpetrated by the state.

Land related issues - 15 cases

Labour/Worker related issues – 3 cases

Enforced Removal of civilians from their homes- 16 cases.

These are all clear cases of violations of the human rights enshrined in the UDHR, international conventions on human rights, European covenants on human rights as well as in the Convention on the prevention of violence against women.

Most of the victims of human rights violations are usually young students, youths and civilians who participate or are suspected of participating in either the clandestine movement or Falintil (East Timorese Armed Resistance).

Most of the victims are arrested and detained arbitrarily, and are routinely subjected to torture while in detention, including cigarette burns, electric shocks, and other inhumane acts. Some of the victims are buried alive and subsequently die.

In most cases, civilians are arbitrarily detained at Military District Command headquarters (KODIM), Guard Posts, Rajawali Posts, Halilintar Post, Command Post, Sub-district Military Command headquarters (Koramil) and many other places which are not legally recognised detention centres. Some victims were detained temporarily and subsequently released and were obliged to report periodically to the authorities. Some detainees who were subjected to torture disappeared, their whereabouts unknown, while others were brought to trial in an attempt to demonstrate that the local authorities comply with the law. Some detainees were not brought to trial but were instead used by the military to carry their equipment.

Nowadays, many of the extra-judicial executions occur in almost all parts of East Timor. In most of these cases, local authorities claim that the perpetrators are unknown or that members of Falintil are responsible for the killings. However, in reality, the civilians including the youths, are always the target of persecution, arrest, torture and killings by the armed security forces. According to information received and results from our investigations, the civilians are usually arrested without reason or evidence. In most cases, they are arrested solely on suspicion of having involvement with the East Timorese resistance movement.

Following are samples of cases of human rights violations received from the four pastoral regions. The recent violations which occurred in the Middle Pastoral Region, namely Alas, have yet to be confirmed due to the fact that to date, no independent human rights organisation has been permitted to visit the area and conduct independent and impartial investigations into the incident. Recently, a combined team consisting of members from the government, ABRI and non-government organisations attempted to investigate the situation but were prevented from entering the area by soldiers of 01 Alas Koramil (Sub-district Military Command) who fired shots at them.

The Justice and Peace Commission has expressed its grave concerns over the killing of Orlando da Costa during the visit European Parliament to Baucau on June 29 1998. This was a clear case of unnecessary excessive use of force by the authorities. To date, the perpetrator of the killing of Orlando da Costa has not been brought to justice.

On October 10 and October 29 1998 and the days following, there occurred an incident in the Middle pastoral region where several military personnel were extra-judicially executed by an unknown group of people. To date, no further information is available and the identities of the perpetrators are still unknown.

The case of Antonio Mouzinho Barreto, resident of Dare village, Dili Sub-district, Dili District is a case of a worker's rights being violated. According to complaints and data collected by the Justice and Peace Commission, Barreto did not receive his full pay, including overtime pay for his services. This is clearly in violation of the principles outlined by the International Labour Organisation.

The killing of Costodio da Silva Nunes on 7 May 1998, is an example of one of the many extra-judicial executions committed by the military. Before he was killed, Nunes had been persecuted by the military over a long period of time. On the day of the killing, Nunes was followed, blocked and finally brutally shot dead near the village of Gugleur in the Maubara Sub-district. The perpetrators were identified as being members from Koramil 03 Maubara (Sub-district military command), and troops from Unit 712. To date, Nunes family is being subjected to persecution by the military and is prevented from approaching his grave site. Costodio da Silva Nunes was buried in a shallow grave.

The case of Felisberto Maria dos Santos alias Sole-Solep is a clear instance of arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention and enforced disappearance. Sole-Solep was arrested by the armed security forces on March 30 1997 at Batugade, located between the border of East Timor and West Timor. Sole-Solep was arrested and detained by SGI (Special Intelligence Unit) and taken to SGI Colmera. He was later transferred to Rumah Merah (Red House) in Baucau. Since then, his whereabouts remains unknown, despite internal steps taken by his family to locate him.

Celestina Motulelo, aged 79 was one of the land related cases received by the Justice and Peace Commission. The case involved the illegal acquisition of Mrs. Motulelo's ancestral lands by the Second Sergeant Arnol Loko Soares, a member of Kodim 1636 Bobonaro and of Koramil 05 Balibo, the armed forces located in the village of Sanirin. Prior to the illegally acquisition, the children of Mrs. Motulelo, Ruben Carvalho and Ruben Soares, had been persecuted relentlessly by the perpetrator.

Another instance of persecution occurred in Kamenasa, Suai district. On 28 April, 1998, a total of 108 people were persecuted by the military.

As one can clearly see from this summary, human rights violations continued during the period of January to December 1998. The Justice and Peace Commission remains concerned with the continuing high number of human rights violations perpetrated by the state against East Timorese civilians and makes the following recommendations to the perpetrators of human rights violations:

We appeal to the local authorities to not use their power to oppress the powerless;

We call on the authorities to immediately cease committing human rights violations against East Timorese civilians;

We appeal to the authorities to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all perpetrators of human rights violations;

We appeal to the members of ABRI and other illegal institutions to immediately cease the practice of arbitrary arrest and detention of East Timorese civilians;

We appeal to all sides involved in the conflict to abide by the principles of Dare Komunike;

We appeal to all civilians and ABRI members to respect the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

We appeal to all religious groups to respect and practice their religious doctrine in order to protect the human rights of the East Timorese people.

Dili, December 11, 1998. - Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission


(1) Report delivered in the Press Conference by Diocesan Justice and peace Commission, Camara Eclesiastica December 11, 1998, commemorating the 50 years of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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