Subject: SMH: E.Timor rape victims too afraid to give evidence
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 07:56:43 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

Sydney Morning Herald 29/03/99

*East Timor rape victims too afraid to give evidence


Dukai's Timorese family disowned her when, as a young and pretty woman, she believed the promise of marriage of an Indonesian soldier garrisoned in the East Timor town of Viqueque.

The soldier reneged on the promise after having sex, and her life as a sex slave began.

Dukai, now 39, says the only way she could survive was by cleaning the military barracks in return for food. But other soldiers took turns to sexually abuse and often rape her, and she now has five children by five different soldiers. "My children are children of war," she says. A newly released United Nations investigation says the Indonesian military has used violence and rape against women as a weapon of intimidation and torture in East Timor and other areas of conflict in Indonesia, including Irian Jaya and Aceh.

The special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Commission, Dr Radhika Coomaraswamy, also reported that ethnic-Chinese Indonesian women raped during last May's riots in Jakarta have been threatened to stop them telling their stories. None of 52 victims of sexual assault and rape who she interviewed had filed charges.

Some of the victims were even sent photographs of their own rape, accompanied by a warning that the pictures would be widely distributed if the women dared speak up, Dr Coomaraswamy said in her report released to a UN human rights panel in Geneva.

Indonesian authorities had not taken claims of mass rapes seriously even though 17-year-old Ita Martadinata, the daughter of a women's rights activist, was murdered in her Jakarta home after receiving death threats and anonymous letters, she said.

Dr Coomaraswamy called on the Indonesian Government to introduce a witness protection program and arrest and prosecute soldiers and others guilty of atrocities against women.

"Otherwise the legitimate process of politics and governance will always be subverted by shadowy forces who rule civil society through use of terror." Dr Coomaraswamy said she had been unable to establish exactly how many women had been raped during the violence that forced the resignation of president Seoharto. But women's rights groups documented 168 rapes during the unrest while a government-appointed fact-finding team reported last November that 76 women were sexually assaulted, most of them ethnic-Chinese Indonesians.

"The Chinese community appears to be terrorised by the events," Dr Coomaraswamy said. While conducting her investigation she found the new Government in Jakarta, led by Dr B.J. Habibie, open and willing to listen but said some police and military officers were not. "When you have impunity some of these things happen," she said.

A spokeswoman for the Communication Forum for East Timorese Women, a foreign- funded organisation, said repeated attempts to bring Indonesian soldiers to justice for abusing Timorese women had failed because Indonesian authorities refuse to take action.

"We know who the soldiers are but they have apparently been transferred out of East Timor and the military keeps stalling out attempts to bring them before an ABRI [military] tribunal," the spokeswoman said.

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