Subject: Ex-TNI general blames UN forces for 1999 Timor carnage
The Jakarta Post Thursday, March 29, 2007
Ex-general blames UN forces for 1999 Timor Leste carnage
Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
An ex-Indonesian Military (TNI) officer has told the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship that the TNI complied with Indonesian law at the time of Timor Leste's 1999 referendum.
"We (TNI) were there in Timor Leste to make the referendum a success," Maj. Gen. (ret) Zacky Anwar Makarim, who was the deputy head of the East Timor referendum task force, said Wednesday.
"The central government at the time ordered us to suppress any potential clashes because we knew that unrest was going to happen despite the result," he said at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
He said he never received orders from B.J. Habibie, the Indonesian president at the time, to destroy residential areas and facilities.
Habibie said Tuesday that former UN secretary general Kofi Annan had prematurely announced the referendum's result, prompting violence in the area.
Zacky, who was a member of the Army's Special Forces Command, added that the now defunct United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was mostly to blame for the violent clashes.
"UNAMET, which was not neutral, triggered the unrest by recruiting only those who were pro-independence, released false reports on the brutality of Indonesian soldiers and police and only transferred its members who were ill-behaved," he said.
"Some of them were found hanging out with Free Papua Movement (OPM) members in Papua. Moreover, a member of UNAMET raped a girl in Timor Leste but only got transferred as punishment."
Zacky also claimed that UNAMET failed to respond promptly when Indonesia wanted to send more troops to the territory in 1999.
"They (UNAMET) allowed more soldiers to enter the area belatedly, so a violent eruption was hard to control."
Zacky's statements were echoed at an "alternative" public hearing, held by several human rights NGOs at the same hotel. The NGOs accused UNAMET of having a patchy record during the time it ran East Timor's administration.
Earlier in the day, the commission heard the testimony of former pro-integration militia leader Eurico Guterres. He has served 10 months of a 10-year prison sentence given to him by the Supreme Court for his role in the violence following the referendum.
Guterres said that Timor Leste unity should be promoted.
"For me, Timor Leste's independence or integration is not an issue. It's how to unite East Timorese, who have been against each other since Portuguese colonization," he said.
Guterres, who is serving his sentence at Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta, said that he became an Indonesian citizen by choice.
"I'm ready to face death row if Timor Leste's people want to bring me to their court and sentence me so," he added.
The joint commission, which does not have the power to bring any of its speakers to court, plans to make recommendations to both countries after it has gathered testimonials from victims, witnesses and actors in the event.
Indonesia military did not arm Timor militia - ex-general
JAKARTA, March 30 (Reuters) - The Indonesian military did not arm pro-Jakarta militia groups that went on a rampage in East Timor before and after a 1999 vote on independence , a former general said on Friday.
Major General Adam Damiri was speaking during a public hearing by a truth commission set up by Indonesia and East Timor to examine what happened around the bloody August 1999 referendum.
"TNI had never and would never have given weapons to them," Damiri told the commission. TNI is the abbreviation for the Indonesian armed forces.
Damiri said he had ordered his subordinates to empty armouries and ship weapons to Java before the vote to prevent them from being raided by rioters.
Damiri was the commander of a Bali-based regional garrison, which included East Timor, at the time of the violence.
The United Nations estimates that about 1,000 East Timorese died during the post-vote mayhem, which was blamed largely on pro-Jakarta militias backed by elements of the Indonesian army.
Damiri dismissed the estimated death toll as "nonsense."
"In his briefing to UNAMET and reporters, the then martial law commander said not more than 100 people were killed," he said, referring to the U.N. Mission in East timor.
"These include independence supporters, pro-integration people as well as military and police personnel," he said. "So if anyone suggested that 1,000 people died, it's nonsense."
The truth commission's second series of hearings began on Monday, with ex-Dili bishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Carlos Belo saying Indonesian soldiers had taken part in attacks on church property and clergymen before and after the vote.
Critics of the truth commission say it is toothless because it lacks the power to punish those found responsible for abuses.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed East Timor later that year, maintaining a huge and sometimes harsh military presence and fighting rebels for more than two decades.
East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesian rule but some pro-Jakarta voters say the referendum was rigged by the U.N., despite the presence of numerous independent observers who concluded the ballot was largely fair.
East Timor became fully independent in May 2002 after a U.N. transitional administration.
A militia leader, Eurico Guterres, is the only person jailed in Indoneisa for the violence and is serving a 10-year sentence at a Jakarta prison.
Some of the 17 other defendants tried in Indonesia's ad-hoc human rights court over the 1999 events received jail sentences at certain court stages, but all were eventually acquitted by the appellate court or Indonesia's Supreme Court.
Guterres blames Indonesia, Portugal, U.N. for E. Timor violence
(Kyodo), March 28 - Jailed former pro-Jakarta East Timor militia leader Eurico Guterres blamed Indonesia, Portugal and the United Nations for violence that erupted in East Timor before and after the U.N.-organized referendum on independence in 1999.
"They shared the mistake and must be politically held accountable for it," Guterres said in testimony at a public hearing by the Commission of Truth and Friendship set up by East Timor and Indonesia to reveal what was behind the 1999 violence in East Timor.
He blamed Portugal for neglecting East Timor after colonizing the territory for more than 400 years, while Indonesia made a mistake by offering a referendum for self-determination in the tiny country.
The U.N. made another mistake by sending international troops very late to maintain order there, he said.
"I never killed anyone and if my men did the killings, I have carried the responsibilities with a 10-year punishment behind bars," Guterres said.
Last year, the Supreme Court overturned an August 2004 ruling by the Ad Hoc Human Rights Appeal Tribunal that had halved the prison term for Guterres. It restored the original 10-year term set by the Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal, saying mitigation of the sentence did not reflect justice.
The tribunal found that Guterres failed to control his men on April 17, 1999, when they attacked 136 pro-independence refugees taking shelter at the residence of pro-independence leader Manuel Viegas Carrascalao, killing 12 people, including Carrascalao's son.
During the hearing, Guterres denied an earlier statement made by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo that Catholic churches in East Timor were "neutral."
"It's not true. The churches were clearly on the side of pro-independence supporters," he said, telling the commissioners he could not get married in an East Timor church because he was a Jakarta supporter.
"Bishop Belo was even unwilling to let his hands kissed by pro-Jakarta supporters," Guterres added, referring to a tradition among East Timorese in showing respect to their bishop.
In testimony before the commission Monday, Belo said he heard about subsequent attacks against other Catholic churches and the murdering of pastors and nuns.
At that time, Catholic churches were seen by pro-Jakarta militiamen, who were also Catholics, as supporting pro-independence activists. Belo stressed in the hearing, however, that the Catholic Church in East Timor was "always neutral."
Militia groups, armed and supported by the Indonesian military, in April 1999 began escalating acts of violence and intimidation against pro-independence East Timorese in the run-up to the referendum on independence on Aug. 30 that year.
Soon after the results of the vote were announced Sept. 4 that year, the militia groups launched a campaign of violence and destruction across East Timor, which had been invaded by Indonesia in 1975.
Hundreds of people were killed, hundreds of thousands more forcibly displaced and 70 percent of buildings and houses were destroyed.
Asked how his men could get arms, Guterres only replied, "Ask that to the first military commander sent to East Timor. But you must also ask the same question to pro-independence supporters."
In separate testimony later, Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, head of the government-sanctioned task force to prepare the implementation of the referendum, told the commissioners about how he had been "threatened" to be "careful in handling the East Timor issue."
"Your country needs economic assistance. So, be careful, because there will be another big plan," Makarim quoted an assistant to the U.S. secretary of state, who visited him before the referendum, as saying.
He did not elaborate.
He also revealed some data, including what he claimed was the manipulation of the U.N. Mission in East Timor and the coordinates of "black flights" supplying weapons to pro-independence supporters.
East Timor became fully independent in May 2002 after more than 24 years under Indonesian occupation and two-and-a-half years under U.N. transitional administration.
Indonesia, under pressure from the international community, implicated 18 individuals, mostly military and police officers, in the 1999 violence, but acquitted all of them except Guterres.
East Timor's government has ruled out the idea of seeking justice at an international tribunal and has instead made efforts to build a close relationship with its former occupier and giant neighbor.
------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service