Subject: AU: Soldiers were in Dili massacre, survivor claims
Soldiers were in Dili massacre, survivor claims
By Stephen Fitzpatrick
February 21, 2007 02:30am
UNIFORMED Indonesian soldiers were among the attackers in the 1999 slaughter of East Timorese independence supporters at the home of prominent Dili figure Manuel Carrascalao, a survivor of the attack claimed yesterday.
Florindo de Jesus Brites, a school student at the time, said he saw his older brother shot dead by an Indonesian soldier, whom he recognised.
Asked how he could be certain of the attacker's status, Mr Brites, who suffered severe machete wounds in the attack, said: "He was wearing his uniform."
The claims sit uncomfortably against blanket denials of military complicity made by former foreign minister Ali Alatas a day earlier at hearings by the Truth and Friendship Commission.
The suave diplomat insisted that he had "no knowledge" of any Indonesian military involvement in the violence that swept East Timor in the months leading up to and days immediately after its 1999 independence vote.
The commission - hearing its first public submissions this week in Bali - is a largely symbolic event with no power to force criminal prosecutions.
It follows a series of national and UN inquiries into the chaos that killed thousands, but so far only one man, former Jakarta-backed militia leader Eurico Guiterres, has been jailed over the events.
The commission has called former military commander General Wiranto and former president BJ Habibie, but neither is expected to appear.
Mr Alatas's statement on Monday was the latest in a series of forays by the man who now serves as a foreign policy adviser to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to distance himself from East Timor's trauma.
He last year published a memoir, The Pebble in the Shoe - East Timor being the said stone, with the shoe being Mr Alatas's career. He read from it in his evidence on Monday, in order to suggest: "as quickly as we can, we should finish this job and don't look backward any more".
But for many East Timorese, the relative toothlessness of the friendship commission does not diminish their determination to remind Jakarta of the brutality perpetuated in its name.
Mr Brites asked commissioners' leave yesterday to remove his shirt to display machete wounds sustained during the April 17, 1999, attack on the Carrascalao compound in Dili that left 12 people dead.
He admitted he saw only two deaths: those of his older brother Eduardo, shot by the TNI soldier; and of a friend with whom he took shelter in a bamboo grove after members of two pro-Jakarta militias, known as Red and White Iron and Aitarak (Thorn), invaded the house.
Mateus Carvalho, a leader in the Dili-based Aitarak group who gave evidence on Monday, said the incident was merely "an issue of revenge within the (Carrascalao) family" and that his members had helped the injured.
Among the dead in the April 17 attack were Mr Carrascalao's teenage son Manuelito.
Mr Brites said he escaped the assault by running from the back garden of the Carrascalao home after being taken for dead by militia members. He said he was taken to hospital for treatment but before receiving medical care for his wounds was forced to sing the Indonesian national anthem.
Timor horror stories aired at truth hearing
Mark Forbes, Denpasar
February 21, 2007
TALES of blood and tears are flowing from a Commission of Truth and Friendship hearing into atrocities during East Timor's 1999 independence vote.
Stories of cold-blooded killings of civilians and of the Indonesian military's role in organising and arming murderous anti-independence militia squads are emerging. But privately, participants question if the commission's goals of revealing the truth and promoting reconciliation are achievable.
Yesterday, Florindo de Jesus Brites spoke of being hacked with swords by militia members who had joined Indonesian soldiers to attack the home of independence leader Manuel Carrascalao in April 1999.
Mr Brites, a high school student at the time, fell next to his brother's body. "I couldn't move, I closed my eyes and everything went dark. I think that's why they left me."
He named the man, who came from his village, who first stabbed him. He named the soldier he saw shoot his brother in the chest and described militia and troops firing into Mr Carrascalao's house, killing 12 adults and Mr Carrascalao's 16-year-old son.
Militia and troops had surrounded the house after a radio call for those loyal to Indonesia to "find the CNRT (independence) people; we have to finish them off".
This was the incident an earlier witness, Mateus Carvalho, leader of Dili's notorious Aitarak militia, discounted as a family vendetta.
Mr Carvalho was an army officer ordered to return to his village and form Aitarak. He claims to have only acted to protect the community from independence fighters. "I never kill if I did kill anyone, show me where I dispose of the corpses."
Mr Carvalho's evidence contradicted Indonesian claims the military had no role in the carnage that killed more than 1400 civilians. He admitted the army funded, armed and monitored militia activities.
The commission's terms of reference state it should recommend amnesties, not prosecutions. Exchanges between witness and the Indonesian-appointed members of the commission reveal a continuing gulf.
Mr Brites said he was taken to a military hospital after worms infested his wounds, but could only eat if he first sang the Indonesian national anthem.
Indonesian law professor Achmad Ali was indignant. "Is there something wrong with being asked to sing? Even in America they sing the anthem; I think it's quite acceptable because you were still in Indonesia."
Witnesses were asked why they were attacked. They must have done something wrong, the Indonesian commissioners claimed. They questioned how victims knew the military was involved.
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