Subject: SMH: Caught red-handed: Jakarta's assassins
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 10:23:13 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald Friday, May 21, 1999

Caught red-handed: Jakarta's assassins

Their master's voice ... pro-Jakarta militiamen are instructed by a man in Indonesian Army-style camouflage uniform in a barracks in East Timor. Photo by JASON SOUTH

By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Atsabe, East Timor

United Nations investigators have seen Indonesian Army personnel training loyalist civilian militia in this East Timor town, throwing doubt on Jakarta's promise to ensure the neutrality of its military before the territory's independence vote.

During the training session, held in an army barracks, 33 militiamen armed with wooden clubs were instructed by a man dressed in Indonesian Army-style camouflage uniform. The session was photographed by a Herald photographer, Jason South.

The UN spokesman in East Timor, Mr David Wimhurst, said the training of the militia - accused of killing at least six independence supporters at nearby Atara village on Sunday - violated UN accords signed on May 5 by Indonesia and Portugal, the former colonial ruler.

"Under the accords all militia activity has to cease," he said yesterday. "There has to be a secure and safe environment for everybody to campaign. The active training of militia is in breach of the accord."

Mr Wimhurst believes his UN team stumbled on preparations at Atsabe, about 80 kilometres from Dili, for another attack by pro-Indonesia paramilitaries against suspected independence supporters.

The UN team was unable to reach Atara village because of militia roadblocks and a warning by police escorts that it would be unsafe to travel late in the day because of threats by militias against "foreigners", including the United Nations.

On Monday, the UN had demanded that Jakarta honour its pledge to stem the violence in the territory.

"Words by the Indonesian Government are not enough," it said. "Determined action must be taken by the appropriate Indonesian security authorities to curtail the activities of the armed militias, whose members roam the streets of Dili and other towns ... at will, shooting citizens and burning homes."

Last Sunday, about 60 members of the Tim-Pancasila militia attacked Atara village and shot dead at least six people who were preparing to attend Mass. Local human rights groups say the actual death toll could be as high as 32.

Asked what action the UN would take against continuing militia activities, Mr Wimhurst said: "Obviously everything we've seen here we report directly to New York. We will take it up here with the authorities and New York will also take it up in an appropriate way with Jakarta."

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Downer, meanwhile, called on the Indonesian Ambassador, Mr Wiryono, to pass on Australia's "strong feeling" that the military must show restraint in East Timor.

A spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry in Jakarta last night attacked the UN report, saying it "takes sides with one group".

He called on UN officials in East Timor to "make more of a contribution" in helping to end clashes between rival groups.

The spokesman said that four days ago Indonesian soldiers were killed in an ambush "but the UN did not make a report on that".

East Timorese will vote in a UN-organised ballot on August 8 to choose between autonomy under continuing Indonesian rule, or independence.

Back to May Menu
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu
June '98 through February '99