Subject: Message from East Timor
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 11:22:42 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

A message from a nun in East Timor received by a friend here in New York.

Dear _____,

I'm sorry I didn't respond right away. I noticed you wrote a message about the agreement to lay down arms - news about East Timor that you had heard. I also noticed that you wrote that message on April 29. Strange, I received that message only two days ago.

Anyway, sorry to say that since the "hand-shaking ceremony", over 100 persons (confirmed) have been killed. Quite a number have been kidnapped. Last Sunday afternoon, one of our youth animators was unfortunately caught in the middle of their shooting spree and was killed. He is our first youth animator killed. The following day, seven more youths were killed. One of our youth group members was shot, but not fatally. Since last Sunday afternoon, there has been daily shooting here in Dili. Yesterday, the Sisters attended the burial of a youth. He was running from the shooting. They shot him in the leg so that he wouldn't be able to run. Then they hacked at his head with a machete. His forehead and his chin were gone.

We still have people coming to sleep over at night, mostly women and children and elderly who are just too terrified to sleep in their homes. These pro-integration fanatics do house-to-house "clean-up jobs". The men and youth are on the run and on the hide. They move from house to house each night.

In short, the people are TERRORIZED. The religious are relatively safe so far, although there have been a few incidents when these fanatics have entered into religious houses to steal the food for the refugees or to scare. Some have outwardly been warned that they respect neither man, woman, old, young, nun, or priest. These para-militer, as many sources have informed me, are drugged so that they kill "without a conscience". They kill sadistically, and drugging them explains that. As I am writing to you now, I can hear gunshots.

I know the UN representatives that are already here to prepare for the votation are having a difficult time trying to figure out how to instruct the people on the upcoming votation. The suggestion has come up to instruct from the pulpit since the majority are Catholics and since the people trust only the priests and nuns. Unfortunately and justifiably so, they don't trust anyone else. I don't know if this suggestion will actually be applied or not, though. Will we be asked to be observers? I don't know. I'll tell you, though, what people are saying on the streets:

"Let's go ahead and sign for integration. Maybe that way the killing will stop." (The pro-integration terrists are entering the houses and forcing the people to sign petions for pro-integration. To refuse to sign would be risking your life.)

"By the time the votation takes place in August, every person who is pro-independence will be dead."

"By the time the UN police troops come, many will be dead already."

Sorry this news isn't exactly bright, but it's the reality in which we're living now.

There are so many stories I could recount to you. Too many. Too many deaths. Too many disappearances. Too many cruel injustices. If they kill, it's already bad enough. But they kill and then take away the bodies so that here is no evidence of any killing. The families cannot even bury their dead in peace.

Thank you. Thank all of you for your solidarity.

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