Subject: ETISC: Getting Away with Murder (Pt 2 of 4)
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 18:31:55 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Part 2 of

Chronology of TNI sponsored Paramilitary and Militia crimes (This Chronology makes no claims to be complete) August 1998 While reiterating before the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the pledge made in June to reduce the size of its military presence in East Timor, Indonesia is in fact sending in thousands of extra soldiers.

October In late October, the discovery of three Kopassus agents working undercover at a pro-independence rally in Alas enraged the crowd and resulted in the death of two of them. The subsequent brutal repression by the Indonesian army caused a mass exodus among the villagers, and the "disappearance" of many young Timorese who had been captured by the military.

November Killings, torture, burning of homes extends throughout Alas in November, and causes terrified people to flee and take refuge in churches. At the time, a round of negotiations was under way in New York between Portugal and Indonesia under the auspices of the UN. Portugal suspends the meetings, demanding clarification of the situation. The UN Secretary General reacted swiftly, condemning the operations that "could jeopardise the delicate efforts to find a just settlement". The negotiators agree to a visit to the territory by a representative of the UN Secretary General. However, once in East Timor, the envoy is prevented from visiting Alas.

At least five thousand soldiers entered East Timor between August and November 1998. Evidence is obtained from confidential records of the Intelligence Services (SGI),

10 November 400 Kopassus Group 4 special forces landed in Kupang by helicopter then entered East Timor by road. It is almost certain that their arrival is linked to a role with the SGI to supervise the militias.

27-29 November After two members of the armed forces were shot dead by an unidentified group of armed men in Cailaco a joint operation is launched to hunt down the killers. The operation is conducted by a unit composed of troops from the local Koramil, Halilintar paramilitaries, combat troops and the SGI. The troops fired shots into people's homes, and beat and tortured at least 7 people. 174 inhabitants of Cailaco managed to flee. Things worsened after the arrival of a helicopter to transport the bodies of the two soldiers back to Dili with six members of the SGI on board. These men started shouting "if the young people here carry on like this, we'll finish them off just like we did in Alas."

26 December The first action of Mahidi was attacking the residents of the village of Raimea, in the Covalima district. Some of the youth of the village were arrested and tortured.

27 December In Maubara, the Gada Paksi gang accompanied by Territorial Battalion (BTT) 143 troops arrested and tortured four local people and then raided the villagers' houses. As a result, there were 143 people from this village who fled to Dili. They took refuge in the house of Manuel Carrascalao, a former supporter of Indonesia but now the head of pro-independence group GRPRTT.

2 January 1999 Mahidi checked every vehicle passing through the village of Cassa (directly south of Ainaro). The group arrested and interrogated 8 people.

Mahidi kidnap Carlito de Araujo, 22, of Suai-Covalima district and lock him up for a week. He is tortured for many hours and then pressured him to join Mahidi and receive Rp. 250,000 per month. He refuses.

3 January Mahidi was involved in a shooting of some pro-referendum youths in the village of Manutasi, in the sub-district of Ainaro Kota. Two youths were killed: Reinaldo Orleans (21), and Julio (23). Four youths were seriously wounded.

23 January Mahidi and members of the Marine Post in Casa attacked the village of Webaba near Zumalai and severely mutilated and killed Fernando Cardoso (27) and one other.

25 January Mahidi attacked Galitas village, Covalima district. They burnt the houses of the residents, then sadistically killed a pregnant woman named Angelina de Araujo (24). After shooting her dead, they cut up her corpse. With a knife, they cut open her abdomen and pulled out the foetus. Five other residents of the village were also killed including her father Olandino da Silva (45) who was beheaded, her brother Luis Pereira (16) who was shot and Rui Nasimento (50). Five residents were wounded by the shooting and three residents disappeared. Before dawn Galitas village was empty. Thousands of people joined what rapidly became a makeshift refugee camp in Suai. Survivors reported the militias arriving on regular army trucks and being supported by TNI troops. During the week, another 11 villages were terrorised and people seeking refuge in Suai rose to 6,000. "They are afraid because the people who are supposed to be protecting them, the armed forces, are the ones organising the terror," said Father Hilario. "It was the military and the militia together. They attack villages in daylight and at night they are sheltered at an Indonesian army base at Salele, 10 km away. They use a lot of traditional weapons, knives, crossbows, spears and whatever rifles the military gives them". Fr. Hilario says that many are recruited from West Timorese border villages. Mahidi maintain a checkpoint on the road from the capital Dili, which passes through Suai to West Timor.

26 January In Maubara a soldier from Koramil 03 forced villagers to register themselves as members of RATIH. Similar actions were taken by the Besi Merah Putih gang in village Maubara Lisa.

27 January Foreign Minister Ali Alatas announced that Indonesia would consider independence for the territory should its residents reject a broad autonomy offer.

28 January Clementino Amaral (East Timorese head of the Dili delegation of Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission) said "the military are giving weapons to the civilians who support Indonesian rule, which means they can shoot supporters of independence who do not have guns".

1 February Lieutenant Colonel Supadi (second military commander of East Timor) in answer to questions about civilian deaths near Suai, denied that TNI had any involvement. He admitted, however, that TNI had been recruiting and arming militias to support the pro-integration stand and had handed out weapons to the Mahidi militia, who number about 1,200, saying that they had been given guns and rifles captured from Fretilin as well as SP1 and SP2 rifles which were, until recently, used by the Indonesian military. Col. Supadi admitted that the two-week training that had been given to the locally hired militia members might have been inadequate. "They are quick to be emotional", Supadi said.

2 February The Indonesian Armed Forces Commander and Minister for Defence, General Wiranto, denied TNI recently gave guns to civilian militias.

In Maubara about 15 members of Besi Merah Putih gang stopped a car in which a Liquiça public servant was riding and threw stones at the passengers. They managed to save themselves but their car was confiscated and is now being used by members of BMP gang for their operations.

5 February Cancio Lopes, the commander of Mahidi told the BBC that he led last month's attack near Suai using automatic weapons supplied less than four weeks previously by the army. He said that he received 20 Chinese-made SKS rifles from the local military headquarters on 30 December. ‘We used the SKS rifles together with three M-16s we had for the attack'. He said the military had already allowed him to use M-16 rifles captured earlier from anti-Indonesian rebels. Mr Lopes then described how he led an attack on 26 January near the town of Suai, killing six people, including a pregnant woman and a 15-year-old schoolboy. Two days earlier his group killed another four people suspected of working with the rebels.

7 February Major General Adam Damiri, chief of the Eastern Indonesia regional military command said the armed forces have begun handing out limited supplies of weapons to civilian recruits in East Timor because it was necessary to help maintain peace and order in areas that have been frequently attacked by the rebels. He denied allegations the weapons were handed out to enforce integration.

Colonel Tono Suratman, military commander of East Timor, said the army would recruit 1,000 East Timorese and train them as a new civil militia (Wanra) but insisted they would not be armed. He said "this is part of the policy by the central government to maintain security. The recruits are to be stationed with police in isolated villages considered security risks". Suratman said recruits would be given a one-year contract and a monthly salary of 200,000 rupiah (US$24) Another officer said "they will only be given clubs and handcuffs."

The Bishop of East Timor, Nobel Peace Laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo and Xanana Gusmao, the jailed leader of CNRT, call for the disbanding of armed civilian groups in East Timor.

The political spokesman for the CNRT in Dili, Francisco Cepeda, said that many people do not want to join militias but they were just picked up on military trucks and taken to Dili without being told what was happening.

10 February Besi Merah Putih (BMP) has been behind many of the attacks on the villages around Maubara which have resulted in the flight of the majority of the residents (especially the male youths) to Dili. The victims of their attacks have tended to be those people suspected of being pro-referendum, but many of their victims have been ordinary villagers who don't understand why they are attacked, including the head of the village of Fatuboro. Apart from attacking and raiding villages, this group loots the property owned by the victims.

A Western diplomat in Jakarta worries that "they're little more than thugs."

14 February Colonel Mudjiono admits 100 rifles were distributed to integrationists in January to even the odds between them and Fretilin guerrillas. Bishop Belo doesn't buy the self-defence line, pointing out that the larger, better-equipped Indonesian military is more than a match for Fretilin. Belo complains "what are the professional soldiers doing? What are they getting paid for? In 15 years here, I've never heard of Fretilin raiding a village and causing 6,000 people to flee".

Benendito de Jesus, vegetable vendor, 25 years old was shot in Dili. He died immediately from a gunshot wound in his head. Mahidi members were driving around in a Toyota Kijang and when they passed Bairro-Pite area, they started shooting at random. This caused the people in the area to panic, become angry and run after the Toyota. When the residents reached the Brimob (mobile police brigade) barracks, the Brimob officers and other police officers, fully armed, blocked their way. Not long after someone from inside the barracks shot into the crowd. One of the bullets struck Benendito in the head.

Xanana Gusmao demanded immediate and total disarmament of the militias saying they are simply death squadrons which intimidate, scare and kill the population.

15 February East Timor police chief Timbul Silaen announced that Benendito de Jesus was allegedly shot dead by an Indonesian policeman who is now under investigation. Other sources say that the perpetrator of the shooting was not a member of Brimob, but a Mahidi member hiding inside the barracks.

Members of Besi Merah Putih gang along with TNI (Koramil 03 Maubara and BTT 143) troops attacked Guiso village in the Maubara district and arrested a number of people including women and children. Those who were arrested were brought to the BTT 143 post and tortured.

17 February All the sub-district heads and village heads in the Bobonaro district received an order from the commander of Halilintar militia, Joao Tavares, to attend a meeting. At the meeting, Tavares said that he would fire them all if they did not mobilize the masses to attend a conference on February 19 in Balibo. The Bobonaro district TNI commander also spoke at the meeting. He said that if the military wing of the CNRT was Falintil, then the military wing of the (recently formed pro-integration group) FPDK was Halilintar, Mahidi, Naga Merah, and Besi Merah Putih.

A spokesman for the armed forces in Jakarta, General Sudjarat confirms that guns were provided to pro-Indonesian groups in East Timor. He says "we only give the weapons to those we trust. These people are supposed not to kill civilians, they are supposed to protect the civilians against Fretilin guerrillas".

18 February David Dias Ximenes, deputy of CNRT in Dili meets the Deputy District Police Chief, Colonel Muafi Sahudji, to make an appeal to end the two-month-old clashes in the Maubara district. Ximenes told the press afterwards that TNI seem to be giving a free hand to pro-integration groups to terrorize and intimidate pro-independence groups. "The police is constantly patrolling in Maubara. Why are the "red white iron" groups (allowed to) carry sharp weapons, intimidate the public, destroy homes and possessions, cut hair of young men and injure people with spears. They are not arrested or called up by the court".

The Indonesian government and TNI was urged by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to disarm the TNI-trained civilian militia in East Timor who are allegedly armed with loaded weapons. "The situation could broaden the conflict with further bloodshed and could jeopardize negotiation efforts," said ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga, in Jakarta. "From the report which was sent to us, we know many sad stories because of the existence of this paramilitary group. The paramilitary are hard to control because they don't have such a neat command chain," Sommaruga said.

19 February Militia leaders, including Cancio Lopes, have been staying at a plush hotel in Jakarta where they have met President Habibie amongst others. Critics say Cancio and his colleagues have come to Jakarta looking for guns. After a meeting with them, head of TNI, General Wiranto, stated they had asked for weapons because they felt threatened by those favouring independence. Leader Domingos Soares denied making any such request. ``We came here not to ask for weapons. It is only propaganda to defame us...nobody asked for weapons here,'' he told reporters after meeting Wiranto.

The threats two days ago by Halilintar leader, Joao Tavares, to the jobs of officials in Bobonaro pays off. About 5,000 people attend the Balibo meeting designed to mark the start of a campaign by the pro-autonomy forces.

20 February Militia groups, angry about Australia's policy shift on East Timor, (which now supports independence for East Timor if that is what the Timorese choose) faxed a signed letter from their Jakarta hotel to all foreign embassies in Jakarta, in which they threatened to kill Australian diplomats and journalists, whom they accused of having published distorted information. Eurico Guterres, leader of Aitarak militia is one of the signatories.

The spokesman of the East Timor police, Captain Widodo announces registration for a second batch of 250 civilian militiamen to assist its operations. Registration for "Keamanan Rakyat (People's Security or Kamra)" for East Timor will open on March 1. "They are not equipped with firearms but are only using equipment such as handcuffs, batons, whistles and shields," Widodo said. . 21 February Halilintar arrested and brutalized at least 6 residents of the town of Atabae. The victims are taken to the local army headquarters (Koramil) after being beaten. Halilintar, armed with automatic weapons, begin patrolling at night in Atabae and its environs.

Members of the Besi Merah Putih begin checking travellers on the roads in the Liquiça district. They are searching for anyone appearing to be a pro-independence activist.

22 February The local district civilian head opened fire on about 200 pro-independence villagers after calling them to a meeting at Guiso village in Maubara. He was backed by members of the armed paramilitary groups Besi Merah Putih and Halilintar. The residents defended themselves and three members of BMP were killed and five others seriously injured. Soldiers of the 143rd Battalion intervened in the conflict to defend the BMP squad, injured 4 villagers and then burnt down 39 houses.

In an attack on the village of Fatuvou, near Maubara in the Liquiça district, not only did the Besi Merah Putih and Rajawali militias take part, but also Indonesian soldiers from the Maubara Koramil (military command) and from Battalion 143. Four civilians were shot and wounded and 18 were arrested. Soldiers prevented a Caritas ambulance from Dili from reaching Fatuvou to help. The ambulance was only allowed through after some days.

23 February A militia squad killed a liurai (traditional chief) named Mendes in Balibo. He had reportedly refused to attend a meeting organized by the group.

Four civilians in Loes are wounded by Mahidi.

24 February Militiamen fire on dozens of pro-independence supporters in Dili, killing three people and injuring several others, One of the dead is Francisco da Conceicao Hornai, 23. Their bodies are taken to the ICRC office. The confrontation broke out during a funeral near an army barracks at Becora on the outskirts of Dili. A witness said the gunmen belonged to a local para-military group that has received weapons from the Indonesian military. The group was led by Domingos Berek who is a member of the army. Two Portuguese journalists, Jose Maria and Jose Alberto Carvalho of SIC, a private television news station, were beaten by assailants during the shooting incident.

UN envoy Tamrat Samuel met pro-independence supporters in Dili in an effort to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

25 February Armed civilians supporting integration within Indonesia will be welcome to stay in East Timor once the territory becomes independent, a delegation of East Timor traditional chiefs guaranteed during a reception at the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon.

27 February Basilio Araujo of the FPDK tells journalists while in Jakarta that the militias have 10,000 weapons. "They are paramilitaries and we are a non-government organisation. But we are all pro-integration and they will protect us," he said.

1 March At a gathering, the chief commander of East Timor's pro-integration paramilitary groups, Joao Tavares, repeated his threat that the life of at least one Australian diplomat would have to be sacrificed to prevent the deaths of East Timorese in a civil war being caused by Australia. Mr Tavares, claims to speak only for his 2,400 men in Atabae, an area with a population of 87,000. Also present is Eurico Guterres. Atabae has recently been the scene of roadblocks and harassment of pro-independence supporters, some of whom have been attacked with knives and beaten.

In Dili independence supporter, Jose Luis Varaderas, said "these paramilitaries have no popular support. The Indonesians bribe people and give them guns. Life here is hard. If you have a starving family you do it, but the people here just want peace."

It has been reported that Indonesian government had already invested 26 billion rupiahs (US$3 million) in arming the paramilitaries to contrive "civil war" in East Timor. Also that for months the Indonesian military had been landing large numbers of troops in West Timor and trucking them East with weapons. When they return, they no longer had weapons.

The UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, called the recent flow of arms into East Timor "very disquieting", but said he felt a war could be avoided.

2 March Xanana Gusmao condemned a group of pro-Indonesian East Timorese currently staying in Jakarta and accused them of being paid by "an unknown party" to wage war against pro-independence East Timorese. "They have been staying in a five-star hotel for one month" Gusmao said of the group. Gusmao blamed clashes between pro- and anti-Indonesian East Timorese, which have claimed several lives in the past month, on a "third party", the SGI. He called for the SGI to be withdrawn from East Timor.

3 March Basilio Araujo of FPDK says the United Nations should oversee the disarmament of all armed groups in the territory as soon as possible. "The pro-independence groups are saying the whole of the East Timorese people want independence. And the paramilitary groups just want to show that that is not true, some [parts of the] population still want to be part of Indonesia. "

8 March 1,160 refugees trapped in the village of Sare near Haitola, Ermera district, fear for their lives as Indonesian army units and allied local militia groups move closer to their camp. The refugees fled into the mountains two weeks ago after shooting in the town of Guiso, near Maubara. A resident of nearby Hatolia said two men who tried to return to Guiso last Wednesday to find food were shot by Indonesian soldiers. One man died instantly and another was taken to Dili for treatment. The Catholic relief agency Caritas is trying to get food to the refugees.

Shootings have been reported in the eastern towns of Los Palos and Baucau and along the waterfront in Dili. Near the southwestern town of Suai, renewed paramilitary attacks in the village of Tilomar injured eight and forced 950 villagers to seek refuge in a church and a school.

9 March Besi Merah Putih, under the command of Manuel de Sousa controls Maubara. Men armed with rifles, spearguns and knives patrol the streets. In the nearby town of Liquiça thousands of people from Maubara are staying in dozens of houses, school buildings and offices. Food is short. "I left because of the intimidation and the terror," says a stall owner. Asked who drove him out, he said: "Besi Merah Putih." A nun in a centre providing food says more than 2,000 people have come. "They believe if they return, they will die,'" said Sister Pascalia.

Amnesty International issued a report saying the Indonesian armed forces and paramilitary units were continuing to be responsible for arbitrary detention, torture, disappearances and unlawful killings.

Three soldiers and a government official are abducted and later killed by Falintil near Baucau.

11 March UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that Indonesia and Portugal had agreed on a "direct" ballot for the people of East Timor to decide whether they want autonomy or independence.

Xanana Gusmao and Joao Tavares said they had agreed to discuss East Timor's future peacefully. Xanana agrees to simultaneous disarmament of resistance and Indonesia's armed forces, including the "tim" paramilitaries trained by TNI to fight the guerrillas, but insisted on the immediate disarming of the militias that are attacking the civilian population..

15 March Australian current affairs TV show Four Corners broadcasts "A Licence to Kill" which examines the activities of the militias in East Timor. (Copies of the show and the transcript are available from . Some comments from the show: Col. Tono Suratman, East Timor TNI Commander says "it's not true that the Mahidi and other groups like Halilintar are intimidating the people. As the commander there, I guarantee they're not the ones responsible"; Militia member Januario Pereiro revealed "the promise is if you get everybody to support Indonesia, you will get four cows and a house. A brick house"; Interviewer Mark Davis talks to a group of pro-integrationists who are in Jakarta. The group's spokesman, Basilio Araujo is unabashed in declaring that they've come to Jakarta to ask for both money and guns and militia leader Eurico Guterres says "I was given guns not just to protect myself and other integrationists but to protect opponents of integration as well - the East Timorese generally".

16 March Besi Merah Putih surround a Carmelite convent in Maubara, some 60 kms west of Dili yesterday and remain in place today. The militia threatened "to kill any nun leaving the convent" because they were allegedly working for the resistance. A priest denied the charge, saying the nuns were providing aid to anyone in need "regardless of colour, ideology or religion."

A visiting Portuguese diplomat said in Dili that separate sources had told her the intelligence service (SGI) was disseminating instructions about how to produce bombs. A spokesman for military intelligence in Dili denied there was a plot to train anyone in terrorist techniques. He said the SGI forces were sent home from East Timor last year.

18 March Eight truckloads of soldiers and militiamen went to the suburb of Becora in Dili and began firing into the air, injuring two civilians. They had opened fire in apparent revenge for last week's kidnapping deaths of four Indonesians in Baucau. The missing corpses of two of the soldiers were transported to Dili today. A military escort reportedly sprayed houses with gunfire over the entire course of the 110 kms separating Baucau from Dili.

19 March A group of about 20 armed and masked men raided the village of Ritabou, in the Maliana area 90 miles from Dili and opened fire on civilians. Pedro Assamali (30), Domingos Manomau (25), Joao Ruben Barros (11) and Fonseca Gomes (11) were killed. 5 were wounded. Witnesses reported that the Halilintar militia is responsible for these murders in a joint operation with the Indonesian military and SGI. A priest said the group targeted the village to punish some of its residents for their pro-independence beliefs. Joint Kodim, Police and Halilintar forces have isolated the Maliana area. Roadblocks have been set up and no one is being allowed in or out of Maliana and surrounding villages and hamlets.

20 March Two people were shot dead at Lacluta in the Viqueque district. They are Jeronimo Amaral, 18, and Jose de Andrade dos Santos. They were shot by a group of Makikit militia.

In the village of Dilor in the Viqueque district at least five people were wounded and 68 detained by 50 heavily armed militiamen and Indonesian military. The operation carried on into the nearby villages of Ahic and Laline.

Saka militiamen in Baucau took a ritual oath to remain loyal to Indonesia.

21 March A new paramilitary death squad has been formed. It is called Darah Merah (Red Blood) under the control of elements of SGI. It has announced it will launch "Operasi Sapu Bersih" (Cleaning Sweep Operation) in Dili on May 2 to "wipe out" pro-independence activists. Sources of the movement said they have enough weapons to "smash a number of cities in a matter of seconds." The new militia made the announcement in a letter signed by "commander-in-chief" Lafaek Saburai. The letter contains direct threats against CNRT and FALINTIL.

In Suai at least eight East Timorese were detained near the village of Zumalai by Mahidi militia. Their current whereabouts are unknown.

Getting Away with Murder Part 3

Contact: ETISC, PO Box 651 Nightcliff Darwin NT Australia 0814 tel:+61 8 8948 4458, fax:+61 8 8948 4498, e-mail:, web-site:

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