Subject: HAK: Update on Paramilitary Violence, 22 April 1999
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:39:15 -0400
From: raimata@worldnet.att.net

UPDATE ON PARAMILITARY VIOLENCE April 22, 1999

I. Suai-Covalima: Violence Committed against UNTIM Students by Mahidi and Laksaur Merah Putih (LMP)

April 9, 1999 -- five students from the University of East Timor (UNTIM), who were carrying out their compulsory social work in Suai town, were attacked and severely abused by members of the pro-integration militias Laksaur Merah Putih (LMP) and Mahidi. Below is information about the victims:

1. Natalino de Jesus, male, 24, student at the School of Social and Political Science, Department of Government 2. Cosme Freitas, male, 23, student at the School of Social and Political Science, Department of Government 3. Victor Gomes, male, 23, student at the School of Social and Political Science, Department of State Administration 4. Abrao do Nacimento, male, 26, student at the School of Social and Political Science, Department of State Administration 5. Marcel, from the neighboring Province of Moluccas, student at the School of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture Cultivation

The incident occurred when members of Mahidi and LMP were conducting an operation throughout sub-district Zumalai to village Beko, in Suai Kota. When these militiamen passed the post where the students had gathered to arrange their social work, they asked the students about the purpose of the social work. In the course of interrogating the students, one of the militia members, Lino Lopes, slapped Victor Gomes on the face. Another militia member, Jaime, grabbed his samurai sword and almost slashed Victor Gomes, but Cancio de Carvalho, the Mahidi leader, prevented him from hurting the student. But then other members of the militia came in from the back and immediately kicked Abrao until he fell headfirst onto the ground. During this attack, two other students came in, Cosme (with long hair) and Natalino. When they realized what happened at the post they tried to runaway. Militiamen on motorcycle pursued them, grabbed and beat them up with fists, blocks of wood, and rifle butts until their noses and mouths were bloody. Still today, Cosme Freitas is vomiting blood.

Except for victim no. 5, Marcel, these students were abused because they were thought to be activists in the Solidarity Council of East Timorese Students (DSMPTT). Yayasan HAK checked with Gina, a staff of at the Secretariat of the Chancellor of UNTIM, and also with Mr. Tri A. Priantoro, the supervisor for the compulsory social work project, about the nature of this incident. Both of them said that the reason for the attack on the students was still unclear. The Chancellor of UNTIM, Fr. Theo T. Balella, SVD, said that the university will send a fact-finding team to the location of incident. But it is strongly suspected that the five students were attacked and abused because of their political activity at UNTIM.

April 12, 1999 -- two UNTIM students who were fulfilling their compulsory social work in Suai town were allegedly kidnapped by the paramilitary group Mahidi. The identity of the victims are:

1. Joao Soares Ximenes, student at the School of Agriculture 2. Bernardino Simao, student at the School of Social and Political Science, Department of State Administration

Both victims were kidnapped on their way from the Public Health Center in Suai to the village of Beko, where they were to begin the social work. No one knows their whereabouts. Other students who were also part of the social work project in the area suspected that their two friends have been already killed because of their political activities on campus over the past year. Meanwhile, the university staff said that the reason for their forced disappearance is unclear. The university is going to send a fact-finding team to the area of incident.

According to Mr. Priantoro, the supervisor of the social work program, many other students have also been attacked besides the ones named here. After the incidents in villages around Suai, the rest of the students decided to take refuge in Suai town. They also met with the head of Covalima district, Drs. Herman, in order to ask him for protection. Meanwhile, the local administrator of Covalima district suggested that the students immediately return to campus. The chancellor said he agreed with this suggestion. The supervisor of the program actually did not want to cancel the social work program because it would disrupt the university's schedule. But since there was no guarantee for the safety of the students, the district authority, on April 17, told all the students working in the area of Suai-Covalima to return to campus. Meanwhile the parents of the disappeared students, Joao and Bernardino, come in tears to UNTIM campus everyday.

II. Ermera: Violence Committed by Ermera District Military Command (Kodim) and Militia Besi Merah Putih (BMP)

April 20 -- In the village Maluskiik, sub-district Railaco members of ABRI and BMP murdered the village head, Bartolomeus, in the middle of the night. According to the victim's family, Bartolomeus was sitting around inside the house when the killers called him to come out. Once he emerged from the house, he was shot to death by people standing in the dark. People around the area, however, suspect that ABRI and BMP committed the assasination. The late Bartolomeus was known to have connections with Falintil. He often supplied the guerrillas with logistical information and medicine.

III. Bobonaro : Violence Committed by Militia Halilintar

15 - 17 April -- for three days in a row members of Halilintar militia abused five civilians and destroyed houses in kampung Ailoklaran-Loes, village Aidabalete, sub-district Atabae. This victims of this violence were:

1. Jose Guterres, male, 35, a teacher at public elementary school in kampung Ailoklaran-Loes, village Aidabalete, sub-district Atabae. He was slashed with a machette on his right shoulder and stabbed in his stomach with a knife. His injuries are severe.

2. Manuel Mendes, male, 45, village head of Aidabalete, member of Indonesian army with a rank of Head Sergeant. He was beaten with block of wood and rifle butt until he suffered from injuries. The militia took his motorcycle, about Rp. 1,000,000 in cash, and a necklace. They also destroyed his house.

3. Jose Gonsalves, male, 40, headmaster of public elementary school in Ailoklaran-Loes. He was beaten, kicked, and punched with blocks of wood and rifle butts. Many of his teeth fell out. He still can not eat and drink.

4. Lino Leite, male, 34, civil servant at the Bobonaro Office of Social Work who lives in kampung Ailoklaran-Loes, village Aidabalete, sub-district Atabae. He was beaten and punched with blocks of wood and rifle butts until bloody. The militia took his motorcycle and destroyed his house.

5. Anastacio, male, 30, owner of a small kiosk in kampung Ailoklaran-Loes, village Aidabalete, sub district Atabae. He was beaten and punched with rifle butts until bloody about the face. The militia looted all the goods in his kiosk.

The family of the victims reported this inhumane treatment to Yayasan HAK. According to them, the victims became targets of paramilitary violence because they were accused of being Falintil agents in the city who always supplied logistical information and medicine to the guerillas. All the victims are now undergoing treatment with traditional medicines at the Atabae Community Health Center.

(Compiled by Yayasan HAK, Dili, Timor Lorosae)

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