|Subject: HAK: The Report on The Registration Period
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 10:09:20 -0400
From: evokata <email@example.com>
Committee for a Free and Fair Ballot Yayasan HAK Jl Gov Serpa Rosa T-095 Farol - Dili EAST TIMOR Tel (0390) 313-323 Fax (0390) 313-324
Committee Report No. 3 The Report On The Registration Period July 26 - August 8, 1999
The registration process has recently ended, on August 8th 1999, UNAMET recorded a total of 446,256 people registered to vote, (433,576 from inside East Timor, and 12,680 from outside the territory). Although this process was conducted in an uncertain security situation and without an adequate guarantee, people were enthusiastic in registering themselves to vote in the consultation process on August 30th. Many parties, including UNAMET and other state officials, who visited East Timor, considered the high number of voters who registered as a sign that the situation in the territory has improved. However, the Committee perceives otherwise; this high number does not necessarily mean that the situation is better, and if there is no concrete and immediate action taken to handle the existing problem, it is very likely that this 'improved' situation will worsen.
Based on solid evidence, there are several reasons why we consider the situation not improved, as there were many occurrences of violence and violations against the potential voters even after they registered. From our Investigations, for the last 12 days of the registration process in East Timor, the Committee found a considerable number of violations, from tearing the registration cards of the would-be voters to manipulating information, as well as terror and intimidation. These cases did not often become public, meaning that the mass media did not report these incidents and were perceived to be 'sporadic' and have no connection with each other. Yet, if we pay close attention, these series of violations were part of a systematic attempt to influence the result of the upcoming consultation process.
The Security Situation
The security situation remains the fundamental problem. Many calls and statements from outside the country - as well as from high officials and community figures in Indonesia itself - have demanded that the Indonesian government fulfill its commitment to maintain security in East Timor. The government does not appear to have seriously responded to those demands. The armed pro-integration militias, who are obviously the source of the problem in a number of districts, are still walking around terrorizing and intimidating the public. Evidence of human rights violations is plentiful, but there has not been any serious action to address the problem of militia violence.
The Indonesian government stated that the disarmament of the pro-integration militia was prevented as the pro-independence side, in this case the Falintil, did not want to lay down their arms. The Committee believes that the laying down of arms became a reason not to take action against the violations committed by the pro-integration militia. In the month of July 1999, many parties including the UNAMET, Commission of Peace and Stability (KPS) and P3TT Task Force arranged a peaceful meeting, and arrived at an agreement that both sides (TNI and Falintil) will respect each other. On the contrary, the pro-integration militia who has also repeatedly held peaceful agreements with the Falintil continues to commit terror and intimidation toward the people, without punishment or any sanctions from the Indonesian government.
It is clear from the above description that the security situation has not improved, this is not due to the 'conflict between two parties', but due to the terror and intimidation by the pro-integration militia that the Indonesian Police (Polri) and the Indonesian Military (TNI) in East Timor allow to continue. The inability of the security officials to handle this security situation was not due to technical problems. Since May 5th 1999, Polri has added 3,100 personnel of the Mobile Brigade (BRIMOB) who were part of the Lorosae Contingent. This makes the total number of police in the area 7.000 personnel. Police Chief Col. Timbul Silaen, upon several occasions admits that such a number of personnel is enough to secure the popular consultation process. This does not include the number of TNI personnel, which approximately reaches 10,000 personnel in all East Timor.
In this kind of situation, violations continued and several cases indicated that the TNI and Polri intentionally allowed violations to occur, not taking any action to prevent the situation. For instance, until today there has not been any investigation into the Liquiça and Dili killings, which occurred last April, although officials from TNI and Polri know about these cases and the perpetrators of the violence. On the contrary, families of the victims now receive threats. On July 28 1999, the District Secretary of Liquiça coerced nine wives of the civil servants who died in the Liquiça incident, to make a statement in front of the governor that their husbands died due to illness. If they refused to do so, the District Secretary would threaten that their husband's pensions would not be processed.
Due to this impunity granted by the TNI and Polri officials to these militia groups, human rights violations continue to occur. As it is shown in the attachment to this report, in almost all districts within East Timor, the pro-integration militia committed violence, terror and intimidation, while TNI and Polri personnel did not do anything to prevent the occurrences. From various areas we also receive reports that members of TNI and Polri were involved in terror and intimidation against the population. Occasionally, these actions were conducted jointly with the pro-integration militia.
This kind of terror and intimidation obviously will influence the people's freedom to vote in the popular consultation. Mass media repeatedly released statements upon the leaders of the pro-integration militia who threatened that the situation in East Timor will be similar to 1975, if the people reject the autonomy plan. During the attack against student activists in Same on August 6, ABLAI (I Fight to Preserve the Message of Integration) militia shouted that they would have a war of 1975. The TNI displayed their force by flying low with Skyhawk A-4 and Bronco OV-10, mobilizing troops and piling up war equipment in the East Nusa Tenggara area. This has unavoidably created anxiety among the population that there will be war after the ballot. These actions will clearly affect the people's freedom to choose during the popular consultation.
Aside from the uncertain security situation, there are several violations that will become obstacles for a free and fair consultation.
As previously mentioned, since Day One of the registration process, the pro-integration militia often prevented people from registering. In Cassa village, Ainaro, where the Mahidi (Dead or Alive for Integration with Indonesia) militia is based under the leadership of Cancio Lopes de Carvalho, people were forbidden to go to the registration site. The same thing happened at the sub-district of Same Kota until the end of July 1999. ABLAI militia (Aku Berjuang Lestarikan Amanat Integrasi) were on guard at several corners of the city and threatened people who were going to register. In Maubara, Liquiça, the Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Iron Rod) militia prevented people from registering. In other cases, they manipulated information for eligible voters by saying that people with white hair do not hold the rights to register.
In several places the police were also involved in violations during the registration process. In the Aileu district for example, on July 21st personnel from Resort Police of Aileu visited people's houses to record the names of those who registered. One person who did not want to show his card was attacked by the police, and his clothes and registration card were torn apart. In Manatuto, members of Polri who were part of the Lorosae Contingent entered the registration site carrying weapons. Several local people decided not to register, as they were afraid of the fully armed police present at the site. One of the policemen was identified as Daryono.
Attempts to prevent people from registering were also systematically done by local government officials. In Aileu, the sub-district head of Remexio committed violations by rejecting the people's demand to provide letters of recommendation. The official, Cristiano Moura de Carvalho, even tore apart the affidavit belong to 16 youth, thus they were unable to register. Similar incidents occurred in other sub-districts within Aileu and appeared to be a systematic operation to prevent people from participating in the popular consultation. Meanwhile, on July 16th, the sub-district Hato-Udo, Ainaro district village head of Beikala, Jesito Neves, drove people from his area away and forced them to follow his decision not to register with the UNAMET officials.
Victims of violations are not only civilians, but also members of the TNI who are from East Timor. On July 29th 1999, during the morning roll call at Korem 164/WD, the commander ordered all members of the TNI from East Timor to submit photo copies of their registration cards and numbers of registration to the Korem Commander. The reason was the office needed to know whether TNI personnel had registered or not. Those who refused to submit their cards were threatened and received sanction. Other members of the TNI complained to the Committee that such an action would affect their freedom to choose during the consultation. This obviously is against the May 5th Agreement, which forbids government officials to use their authority to affect the choice of their subordinates.
It is of our concern that the attempt to prevent people from registering will be repeated during the consultation. Based upon several reports, terror and intimidation on the people who were already registered and manipulation of information continue to occur. In some districts, people complained about the long distance they have to go to register, with no guarantee of their security along the way. It was only their strong will to determine their fate, which finally emboldened them to go to the registration site.
While people who are eligible to vote are prevented from registering, at the border with the East Nusa Tenggara information we received indicated that there is an attempt to mobilize people who do not have the rights to vote, to register. First, the head of the Bobonaro district, Guilherme dos Santos, instructed that people should only register with ID, and if UNAMET rejected it, people do not have to register. In line with what P3TT officials stated, and Basilio Dias Araujo, member of the FPDK, Mr. Dos Santos said that the requirement for registration was too demanding for the people. This strange order only made sense when, towards the end of registration period, thousands of people from the NTT were transported to the western part of East Timor by trucks rented by the Balibo sub-district office.
Village chiefs of Kewar and Fulur in the Belu district of NTT admitted to the Committee that until August 6th 1999, there were 490 people registered for the ballot. Almost all their IDs presented during the registration stated that they were born in Saburai, the Maliana sub-district, Bobonaro, Atos, Mabelis, the Lolotoe sub-district. One civil servant working for the local government office in Maliana, Arnold, and several militia commanders, said that people who registered were born in East Timor but they moved to NTT between 1959 and 1975. Although most claimed to be Catholic, none brought their certidão da baptismo (certificate of baptism). Several monitoring observers doubted the validity of the IDs because there was no identification number accompanying the signature of the official authorizing the Ids, which is regulated in the Indonesian law.
The pro-integration militia tightly guarded places of registration at the border until the end of the period. According to one member of the militia, they were intentionally present at the registration site as the UNAMET refused to accept those who only registered with the IDs. It is known that on August 6th, the registration site at Batugade was closed down for one day because pro-integration militia threatened to attack the post. Terror and intimidation until the last day of registration remained significant, and people quietly expressed their anxiety to the observers. In Balibo, hundreds of people wearing pro-integration attributes toured the city, but when observers tried to talk with them they refused and said that they were afraid to be seen by the militia commanders.
Violations Towards Potential Voters
While the registration process appeared be conducted safely and smoothly, many violations against those who were already registered occurred. One of the most obvious incidents was the tearing of registration cards. On July 18th, five people from Urletoho, the Poetete village, Ermera, who had just returned from the registration post, were intercepted by the Darah Integrasi (Integration Blood) militia members. The militia tore all their registration cards without any clear reason. Similar reports came from other areas and generally it was the pro-integration militia.
During the registration period, in several places, people's houses were burned down, along with important documents required for the ballot. On July 25th, a house owned by Ricardo, at the Metabou village, Bazartete, Liquiça, was burned down by the BMP militia. On the same day, the Naga Merah (Red Dragon) militia burned down 81 houses, including an elderly person's, Mau Leto, 80 years old. This caused hundreds of people to lose their documents.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Based upon the above problems, it can be concluded that the violations that occurred during the registration period were not sporadic and separate from each other. On the contrary, the violations showed that there was a systematic attempt to prevent a free and fair consultation. The cases we dealt with indicated the involvement of the Indonesian government officials, TNI and Polri members, as well as the pro-integration militia.
All these actions obviously violated the May 5th Agreement in New York, between Indonesian and Portuguese governments, regarding the popular consultation. It is unfortunate that the Indonesian government, as one of the signatories of the agreement, does not take any action to prevent the violence occurring, or apply sanctions to the officials who committed violence. On the contrary, in many cases the Indonesian government appeared to lend support to the perpetrators of the violations. UNAMET, who witnessed several of the incidents, and even became victims to violence, until now has not taken any significant measures to overcome the previously mentioned problems. They should not maintain their position by taking the best out of the worst situation; they need to take firmer action.
In order to deal with the above problems, the Committee recommends the following suggestions:
1. Polri, which was supposed to be responsible for the security during the preparation and the ballot, should immediately arrest and bring to trial the pro-integration militia who commit violence. Polri also has to immediately disarm the militia without using the disarmament of the Falintil as a justification to delay the process. It was well known that the numbers of security personnel in East Timor was more than enough to prevent the Falintil from committing violence that it was not necessary to allow the pro-integration militia to maintain their weapons. 2. The Secretary General of the UN should conduct a thorough evaluation on the whole preparation process and execution of the ballot in East Timor. If before the campaign period begins, the security situation does not improve, there is no other choice for the Secretary General of the UN but to send peace keeping forces as soon as possible and extend the mandate of the UNAMET. This action should be taken as the Indonesian government has continuously violated the New York agreement since it was signed on May 5th, 1999. 3. The Indonesian government should show its true commitment to comply with the May 5th agreement by applying sanctions to the security personnel who committed violations.
Aside from the above recommendations, there are several problems, which require immediate response in order to ensure a free and fair ballot:
1. UNAMET should compile data about the people who already registered and lost their cards. In order to prevent similar incidents reoccurring in the future, all perpetrators of this kind of violations should be arrested and brought to trial. UNAMET also has to guarantee that all people who lost their cards due to violence and other forms of violations do not lose their rights during the upcoming ballot. 2. UNAMET should seriously guarantee the security of the ballot box by adding the number of officials who can take immediate action when violation occurs.
Dili, August 9th, 1999
Aniceto Guterres Lopes, SH Aderito de Jesus Soares, SH Director of Yayasan HAK Spokesperson of the Committee