Subject: SMH: Indonesian forces cheer militia on their rampage
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 11:15:43 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald 11/05/99

East Timor

Indonesian forces cheer militia on their rampage

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Dili

Indonesian security forces cheered pro-Jakarta militiamen yesterday after they had gone on a rampage in a second day of violence in Dili.

Several hundred militiamen, packed into nine utilities and five trucks, left Dili late in the afternoon waving in jubilation and firing shots in the air after a five-hour reign of terror through the town's streets.

Indonesian police and soldiers, who had done nothing to stop the rampage, cheered and waved the convoy past as it headed back to bases at Liquica, 40 kilometres west of the town.

Shooting indiscriminately, the militias - many of them displaying red and white ribbons, the colours of Indonesia's flag - killed or wounded up to six people in Dili after opening fire on students outside the University of East Timor. Witnesses said an unknown number of other people had been attacked in a pro-independence stronghold in a town near the Santa Cruz cemetery, where hundreds of mourners were shot by Indonesian security forces in 1991.

One man in his 20s was brought to a Catholic clinic after being shot dead near Dili's central market.

Most of the militiamen were from an Indonesian military-backed militia called Besi Merah Putih, or Red and White Iron, the same men who attacked a church and priest's house in Liquica last month, killing up to 60 unarmed villagers.

Indonesian authorities have taken no action against the militia group over that massacre, which shocked the Catholic Church and sabotaged peace talks being organised by the Nobel laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo. Human rights activists in Dili believe the militias have embarked on a campaign of violence to coincide with the arrival in East Timor of advance parties of United Nations personnel supposed to assist Indonesian armed forces supervise a ballot in August to decide East Timor's future.

The militias, some of them carrying M16 rifles, went on their rampage as Australia's Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr John McCarthy, held talks in the town with Indonesian officials, aid workers and at least one pro-independence leader who has been in hiding.

Asked about the two days of violence, Mr McCarthy said: "Our views are already well known to the authorities here in Dili ... as much as anything else we need to discuss ways in which the violence may be reduced. Continued protest isn't necessarily the answer.

Militia leader Mr Eurico Guterres admitted to journalists yesterday that his men had caused the violence in Dili on Monday which left one man dead and four others injured.

Surrounded by 100 of his militia with Indonesian military personnel standing by, he said the violence was in response to an attack by independence supporters on one of his men's posts in a Dili suburb.

In Lisbon, the East Timorese Nobel laureate Mr Jose Ramos-Horta said the resistance movement could boycott the vote on the province's future unless resistance leader Xanana Gusmao is freed immediately.

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