Subject: SMH: Women abducted by East Timor militia, says rights group
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 11:01:28 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News: June 5, 1999 Women abducted by East Timor militia, says rights group

By MARK DODD DILI, FRIDAY

Fears are held for the safety of 12 East Timorese women detained on the orders of a pro-Indonesia militia group based near Dili, a human rights official said today.

The Foundation for Legal and Human Rights (Yayasan-Hak) said it regarded as accurate information received from one woman who escaped from custody by the Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Iron) group at Liquica, 30 kilometres west of Dili. The woman said the remaining 12 hostages had been raped by militiamen.

The foundation provided The Age with the names of the 12 women taken from their homes on 17 May after their husbands fled.

``The husbands escaped to avoid forced enlistment in the militia. The women were taken hostage and given over to four families in Maubara,'' the foundation official said. He asked not to be identified, citing threats against the group.

He said the lives of the 12 women had been threatened if their husbands failed to return.

The human rights group said it had reported the incident to the United Nations and Ms Ana Gomes, the senior Portuguese diplomat in Indonesia based in Jakarta.

In other incidents, six men from the coffee-growing district of Ermera sought protection at UN headquarters here today after two of their colleagues were allegedly robbed and beaten yesterday by Indonesian soldiers based at Railako, 35 kilometres south-west of Dili.

This reporter saw one of the victims, named Lorenzo, lying outside the UN office nursing his head. The 32-year-old man said he had been tied and beaten and then robbed of 2 million rupiah ($A38,000), proceeds from the sale of coffee beans.

Yayasan-Hak said it was receiving numerous reports of harassment of local villagers in Ermera district by militia and Army Battalion 143. The rights group said soldiers and militiamen were forcing villagers to sell coffee beans at a low price and then taking the product to Dili for resale.

Coffee is East Timor's biggest commodity earner and this year's crop is one of the biggest since the early 1980s.

A UN official said today that Indonesian authorities were responsible for upholding order in East Timor. Details of incidents would be passed to police for investigation, he said. ``We're not here as a police force. We're not in a position to be a police force,'' he said.

Some 270 UN civilian police including Australians are expected to start arriving here on 15 June to take up liaison duties with their Indonesian counterparts.

There are signs Indonesian police are taking a stronger role in enforcing the law in Dili which, until last month, was virtually the domain of the Aitarak militia group. Last night three trucks carrying some 70 mobile brigade police patrolled slowly through central Dili, including a street close to the headquarters of the Aitarak militia.

A UN official also noted with satisfaction that last night police had established a checkpoint on the main airport road, frisking commuters with metal detectors to check for illegal weapons.

Today an Indonesian ship carrying about 450 police reinforcements arrived off Dili.

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