Subject: AN: There Was Once a Plan to Execute Xanana Gusmao


Dec 23 14:23

There Was Once a Plan to Execute Xanana Gusmao

By Ahkmad Kusaeni

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A decision made during an emergency situation could make a history. If Xanana Gusmao who was arrested in 1992 were executed, East Timor might never secede from Indonesia and the leader of the security disturbance group, Fretilin, would not become an East Timorese president.

A book -- I have written along with my colleague Benny S Butarbutar and was launched only early this week -- revealed what has been a mystery on the arrest of Xanana Gusmao in the morning of November 20, 1992, at a location in Dili, the capital of East Timor.

It turned out that the then chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI)`s operational command in East Timor (when it was still Indonesia`s province) Brig.Gen. Theo Syafei (now retired) once proposed that Xanana be `finished`. "Pak Try, I have arrested Xanana. Should I finish him, sir?" Theo said.

It was never disclosed before that when Xanana was only arrested, the chief of the operational command in East Timor immediately reported it to the then Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) chief Gen. Try Sutrisno (now retired) and asked for directives for further measures.

That time, the operational command chief once asked Try Sutrisno if Xanana Gusmao could be finished`. But Try Sutrisno said Xanana should not be killed but remain alive for trial.

The historical fact is among others revealed in the book entitled "TIDAR" standing for Bhakti Tiada Akhir (endless services), which is a note reflecting 40 years of services of the 1965 graduates of the National Military Academy whose leading figures included Theo Syafei who played a significant role in the arrest of Xanana who is now the president of the neighbouring country, a former Portuguese colony.

When the writer of the book asked Theo Syafei in July, 2005, about the plan to execute Xanana, Theo who is a figure of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) confirmed it.

"It is likely the time for me to reveal the truth about Xanana," said Theo who is a former Udayana military command whose jurisdiction included Bali province.

Theo then talked much about Xanana`s arrest. The story began with the fall of Bank Summa including its branch in East Timor in 1992. There was a policy then that Bank Summa`s branch in East Timor was only able to return a maximum of Rp10 million to each customer.

Meanwhile, a university student whose deposit was more than Rp11 million demanded that the bank return Rp11 million to him, but the head of Bank Suma`s branch office said the bank was only able to give Rp10 million back to the student.

"I am a student. I want to return to Bali," the student said.

The chief of the operational command that time happened to visit Bank Suma. The student then asked for recommendation. Theo asked the student why he asked for the money totalling Rp11 million, and the student answered that he wanted to go to Bali.

"Then, I asked based on my sense of intelligence, `whose son are you actually? If he was not a son of a district head or a high ranking official, he must not have such a lot of money," Theo said.

It turned out that the student was a son of a farmer in the poorest area in East Timor. When he named the area, Theo was increasingly curious as to the best of his knowledge, the total amount of all farmers` money in the area would not even reach Rp100,000.

Eventually, the student`s house was raided, and money in US and Australian dollars as well as Japanese yen was found there. When he was questioned about sources from which he received the money, it was revealed that he was a broker for Xanana.

"Any foreign journalist from Australia or other countries have to pay 2,000 dollars for meeting with Xanana," according to Theo who said that he forgot the student`s name.

From the student, Theo looked into the presence of Xanana.

"In Dili, Xanana was frequently found in three areas. I Asked, `where is Xanana now?` The student said, `here`", Theo said.

That time (November 19, 1992) at 7.30 pm, an operation to arrest Xanana was planned. The intelligence detachment command immediately deployed personnel and proposed that Xanana be arrested that evening.

Theo said Xanana could not be arrested that evening, and he (Theo) ordered that the raid must be conducted the following day in the morning. Why? Because his neighbour was a policeman, Corporal Augusto, who married a widow of a Fretilin member.

As a policeman, Augusto used to go to work at 5 am to manage the traffic.

"If I raided him (Xanana) that evening, he would defend himself. And if Xanana was there, he could move to the next room and could then flee," Theo said.

The operation to arrest Xanana was then conducted on Friday morning, November 20, 1992. When it was found that Augusto had already left his house, the raid started. When the operation was taking place, Xanana was with a girl who was a senior high school student found to be a step-child of Augusto.

"That`s what Xanana liked. For Xanana, he must be with a woman wherever he was," Theo said.

When he was raided, Xanana surrendered himself without defence as he was that time unarmed. Being handcuffed, Xanana wearing a jacket and a short was then taken to Theo`s official house in Dili.

"On his arrival, I ordered to put off Xanana`s handcuff and I shook his hand. And my wife offered Xanana a drink -- coffee, tea, milk or chocolate. We treated him well," Theo said telling the event 13 years ago.

Of the same rank

Theo said that he and Xanana were of the same rank as commander. The risk was that it was Theo or Xanana who would win. The important thing for them as commanders was that anything done by their men was the responsibility of the commanders.

"Agree? He agreed. Hence, whatever questions to him including those on the setting villages on fire there and raids here were answered that he was responsible for the problems," he said.

Theo reported Xanana`s arrest to the then Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) chief, Try Sutrisno, by phone.

"Pak Try, I have arrested Xanana. Should I finish him, sir?" Theo said.

The ABRI chief did not immediately answer the question. Seconds of silence had elapsed. Then unclear voice was heard on the phone.

"Wait a minute.... I`ll call you back," Try said.

That time, Xanana was still at Theo`s house. If ordered, the operational command chief was ready to execute Xanana. However, the phone call from the ABRI chief did not ring. Ten minutes had elapsed, and even there was no sign after 20 minutes.

While waiting for the call from the ABRI chief, Theo decided to chat with Xanana. Theo began the chat by saluting Xanana as a commander but the latter could not do the same as he was handcuffed, but then Theo oredered the intelligence team to put off Xanana`s handcuff and then he saluted Theo.

Theo wanted to remind Xanana that he uphold leadership values especially as a commander who must be responsible for what have been done by his men.

"I am a commander here and you are Fretilin`s commander, so we have the same responsibility," Theo said and Xanana agreed with Theo`s remark. This then made Xanana`s trial easy as the Fretilin leader admitted he was responsible for all he had done. Eventually, Theo could meet all his expectations including that on an effort to move Xanana to Jakarta.

Following the conversation between the two commanders, there was no telephone call from the ABRI chief until Theo decided to send Xanana to the operational command post and the former did physical exercises.

"In the afternoon, the ABRI chief and a big group arrived in Dili," Theo said.

On his arrival, the ABRI chief immediately called up Xanana to the former`s official residence. Then, the ABRI chief had a dialog with Xanana in the presence of all the chief`s group members including the then East Timor`s governor, Abilio Soares.

It was finally decided that Xanana was not detained by the military but the Dili police as he was considered only as a criminal. In addition, the decision was made in order that Xanana could be tried under the Criminal Code, not the law on subversion.

"Law on subversion covers violations against the ways to live a national and state life, while the Criminal Code deals with criminal acts. This is the image that I created," Theo said.

In the process of investigation for trial, like what was said by Lt.Gen. (ret) Johny Lumintang who was that time chief of the Dili military command, Xanana once went on hunger strike. Theo then asked the chief of the Dili police Col.Nugroho Djajoesman about the police`s preparations in response to Xanana`s hunger strike. An ambulance was then prepared, and then Theo ordered to take a coffin from the Dili military command.

The dialog between Theo and the Dili police chief was learned by Xanana making him (Xanana) ask for coffee and meals. It seemed that Xanana was also afraid of death.

Theo`s measure was understandable as Xanana who was cooperative before turned to be contrariwise following the arrival of the UN secretary general`s special envoy, Waco. Since the beginning, Theo disagreed with foreign intervention, and therefore Theo took a stiff measure.

However, preasures from many parties made Xanana go out of Dili. For legal process, Xanana was then brought to Jakarta where he was visited by officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on December 7, 1992.

"I said (Xanana) should not be brought to the Cipinang jail in Jakarta. For the time being, he was moved to Semarang (Central Java). For fear of disappearing in Semarang, Xanana was moved again to Cipinang where he met other political prisoners," Theo said.

The Dili district court on May 20, 1993, sentenced Xanana to life imprisonment. On August 17 (Indonesian Independence Day), 1993, Xanana who served his jail term in Cipinang received clemency from then president Soeharto making him only sentenced to 20 years in jail.

On August 30, 1999, the East Timorese people conducted popular consultations under the auspices of the United Nations. On September 3, 1999, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced the result of the popular consultations in Dili. 78.5 percent of 451,79 voters rejected autonomy. Only 21.5 percent accepted autonomy. It means that the pro-independence group won and the pro-integration group lost.

The East Timorese people have then rejected the special atonomy and shown their willing to start a transitional process towards independence, Annan said at the UN headquarters in New York.

Several days after the announcement of the popular consultations, the history changed quickly. Xanana was released from the Cipinang jail. On May 20, 2002, the UN officially declared East Timor as an independent state and then Xanana Gusmao came out as East Timorese presisent.

That is Xanana`s life history. (*)

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