Interview: Ramos-Horta Urges 1991 Massacre Inquiry
INDONESIA: INTERVIEW-Ramos-Horta urges 1991 massacre inquiry
By Joanne Collins
DILI, East Timor, Jan 3 (Reuters) - East Timor independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta called on Monday for an inquiry into a 1991 massacre in Dili, saying he had been given a map pinpointing two mass graves that could contain more than 100 bodies.
"The site is eight to 12 kilometres west of Dili near a place called Tibar and it is around there where the Indonesians buried upwards of 100 people from the infamous Santa Cruz massacre of November 12, 1991," Ramos-Horta, who was in exile until very recently, told Reuters in an interview.
"I would like to go there with the forensic experts and have these bodies exhumed to ascertain the real extent of the killings," he said.
Numerous witness accounts support the claim that scores of bodies were dumped in the graves and a map, sketched by independence fighter Xanana Gusmao, indicated the precise location, he said.
"Soon after the Santa Cruz massacre, Xanana sent me a sketch which pinpoints the exact location of the mass graves...and as you know Xanana is a good artist so the map was very clear, showing the distance from Dili and from the main road."
On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops surrounded Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery then opened fire on a crowd of East Timorese mourners inside.
Some 2,500 people had gathered at the cemetery to mourn the death of 18-year-old pro-independence student Sebastao Gomes, who had been gunned down by the Indonesian army a few days earlier at the city's seafront Motael Church.
Indonesian authorities put the death toll at 50, but human rights groups and observers believe as many as 250 died.
BODIES DUMPED IN GRAVES
Nobel peace laureate Ramos-Horta says the bodies of those who later died at the Lahane Hospital were dumped in the two graves.
"No justice has been done to those who were killed in the Santa Cruz massacre and if the world had taken a stronger stand against Indonesia for this huge massacre, then maybe we would not have had this tragedy in September 1999."
Anti-independence militias backed by elements of the Indonesian military carried out a wave of terror last September after East Timorese overwhelmingly rejected Indonesian rule in a referendum. Hundreds were killed in that violence and the former Portuguese colony left in ruins.
An Australian-led international force was sent to the territory to quell the violence.
High-ranking members of the Indonesian army - or TNI - have been named by human rights investigators over the recent killings and could face trial.
Ramos-Horta, who left the territory just days before Indonesia's invasion in December 1975, said that earlier acts of violence by Jakarta's forces should not be forgotten.
"Any recovery of bodies from the Santa Cruz massacre would obviously prove a pattern of brutality over the years and would further indict the Indonesian army and further damage their credibility, if they still have any, and may serve as a warning to them that no matter how old their crime is, they will still be haunted."
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