Subject: Evidence of Collusion Between Militias and Military
Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 07:05:23 EDT

The Irish Times [Dublin] Saturday, September 4, 1999

Bloody events since polling evidence of collusion

Police collusion with militia is a mockery, writes Conor O'Clery from Dili The wide avenue through Dili's eastern suburb of Bacora looks deceptively middle-class, with bougainvillaea and frangipani hanging over the walls of roadside buildings in blazing colours. Hidden in the tropical foliage behind them are the modest, tin-roofed homes of thousands of inhabitants, who live down leafy alleyways teeming with life.

In one such lane yesterday morning, leading to a sub-district known as Kamea, we met a long line of frightened people carrying babies and with carrier bags on their heads. There were children struck dumb by their parents' terror.

Behind them the pro-Indonesia militia had begun shooting the place up and had burned the home of an independence sympathiser. "Aitarak are coming to attack us," cried a tearful woman running by with a suitcase carrying a few belongings. "They have already burned one house."

Though the Aitarak militia, led by Mr Eurico Gutterres, has been systematically attacking Bacora all week, burning houses and driving thousands of pro-independence people into refugee centres, there was not a single member of the Indonesian police force present.

Even more extraordinary was the scene at the police station on the nearby avenue where several journalists took refuge after militia members, armed with knives and home-made guns under their T-shirts, had pushed them around. The under-sized thugs followed the reporters and continued to harass them with impunity as the police stood around.

Such open collusion makes a mockery of the peace agreement which the local UN chief, Mr Ian Martin, presented at the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) with a theatrical flourish on the eve of Monday's referendum on autonomy or independence.

On that occasion, Dili's militia leader, Mr Gutterres, publicly embraced Mr Falor Rete Laek, a commander of the Falantil resistance movement, and solemnly promised that his followers would not carry arms in the streets and could be arrested if they did so.

The local police chief, Col Timbul Silaen, said: "We will take strong action to arrest any who bring out arms."

Army commander Col Noer Murs, with an equally straight face, called God's blessing on the agreement.

Yet the bloody events since polling day made self-evident what Bishop Belo told the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrews, on Sunday evening in Dili. "These people are not sincere."

Immediately after the referendum, the militia came out on the streets, openly brandishing machetes and guns. On Wednesday, outside UNAMET headquarters in Dili, they fired weapons with impunity for an hour. No arrests were made when police arrived.

In the past four days, four of the 4,000 locally-hired UN polling staff have been murdered and six are missing. No arrests have been made.

The militia, sometimes with automatic weapons, have erected makeshift checkpoints of stones and oil barrels on main roads. One morning they took control of the departure lounge at Dili's airport and prevented six East Timorese leaving. All week a bunch of scowling men has been stopping traffic on the last stretch of road before the airport and questioning passengers. In all these cases the police stood by.

UNAMET officials are furious that Jakarta has refused to assume its security role under the international agreement with the UN and the former colonial power, Portugal, under which the popular consultation was held. It gave UNAMET a badly flawed mandate, though UNAMET spokesman Mr David Wimhurst said yesterday, "if we had not agreed, there would not be a popular consultation".

Many observers here believe that UNAMET is reluctant to say just how bad the situation is and, indeed, Mr Wimhurst did not disclose yesterday that five UNAMET staff were missing in Mariana until asked a direct question.

The future of the process designed to end the violence in the former Portuguese colony, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed by Indonesia the following year, an action not recognised by the UN, is now overshadowed by the threat of civil war. This is what elements of the Indonesian military may want.

UN officials are in no doubt that the Indonesian army (TNI) has set up, organised, armed, paid and controlled the militias, and that it is responsible for putting UNAMET in a position where it is unable to maintain its own security, let alone that of its local staff.

This is a matter of deep shame for frustrated members of UNAMET's unarmed civilian police. It has also convinced UN officials that the political leaders in Jakarta are unable to totally take control of East Timor from army intelligence, Korpassus, which has run it as a military fiefdom since 1975.

The militia activity has not only undermined the UN operation, it has forced many of the world's press to leave in a hurry as the situation turned ugly, including all Indonesian reporters on Thursday and 70 international journalists in a plane chartered by the BBC yesterday.

"This is the wrong time to be leaving," Mr Wimhurst scolded them yesterday morning. "Your presence in the process has been absolutely crucial. No one can guarantee your security, particularly the United Nations, but I would urge you to see this through." The militia rampage has more importantly put enormous pressure on Falantil commanders in the mountains to take up their guns to defend the people, but their leader, Mr Xanana Gusmao, has ordered that no military retaliation be taken against the militias, knowing that this would play into the hands of their puppet-masters.

The most popular conspiracy theory is that with Falantil in the fight, the Indonesian army would come in as peacekeepers, and finish the process of securing control of a future independent East Timor for its militia allies after TNI had withdrawn.

The danger of war is now real. "Falantil is much more disciplined but they are really pissed off and they are running out of food supplies because of road blocks," said a senior UN official.

On the eve of their greatest triumph, the most prominent independence supporters in the umbrella CNRT organisation, as well as student leaders, have gone into hiding. Some UNAMET officials suggest hopefully that all this activity is the militias' "last hurrah" and that they will quickly become demoralised by a proindependence vote. They point to the disintegration of the militia leadership in the town of Suai.

Yet this is an unlikely scenario. A spokesman for the political wing of the militias, Mr Basilio Dias Araujo, a fluent English speaker educated at Manchester Metropolitan University, made it clear yesterday that pro-Indonesia forces were preparing to discredit the outcome of the vote.

Mr Araujo brought complaints about the conduct of the poll to the three poll commissioners appointed by UN Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan: Mr Pat Bradley, from Northern Ireland, Mr Johann Kriegler, from South Africa, and Ms Bong-Scuk Sohn, from South Korea. He was not satisfied, but no one expected that he would be. "We have been excluded from the process," he claimed at a press conference to which he produced villagers with complaints about local UNAMET staff directing people how to vote.

Typical was that of a toothless old man with skeletal cheeks called Mr Renaldo Mirana, from the district of Casa. He told us: "A woman called Georgina took my ballot paper and marked it for me." Whatever the merit of such complaints, they seem designed more to give the losing side some justification for whatever action it plans next. And for the people of East Timor, like the "internally displaced persons (IDPs)" in UNAMET-speak who fled from their homes in Bacora and other regions ravaged by the militias his week, it is likely to get much worse before it gets better.

Subject: The Examiner on Brit Weapons
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 10:23:42 +0000
From: "East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign" <> Organization: ETISC

The Examiner Sept 1st 1999

Pressure to stop UK arms sales to Indonesia

THE BRITISH government came under increasing pressure last night to halt arms exports to Indonesia and cancel an invitation to attend Britain's biggest arms fair. Labour backbenchers and Liberal Democrats joined forces to call on the government to change its mind after it defended the invitation, saying it did not necessarily mean further export licences would be granted. Details of the move emerged the day after Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said that Hawk jets, made by British Aerospace, had been used over the troubled island of East Timor, in breach of Indonesia's export licence. Donald Anderson, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee and fellow Labour MP Ann Clwyd, a veteran campaigner against arms exports, both said there should be no more arms sales to Indonesia for the moment. Speaking from East Timor, where the Labour parliamentary human rights group has been observing the conduct of Monday's independence referendum, Ms Clwyd said the truth was that it was not possible for Britain to stop arms it exported being used for repression or aggression. And she said that arms sales to the Far Eastern nation - which has been going through an economic downturn - have been underwritten by the British taxpayer to the tune of more than £800 million. ''We should not be footing the bill for repression even as the World Bank and the IMF have had to bail them out,'' she said. Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said in a letter to Mr Cook that it was wholly unjustified and inappropriate to invite the Indonesian military to an arms fair after it had admitted breaking the terms of a previous contract. He said he had little faith in the Indonesian government's assurances that such a breach would not happen again and said the contract to supply more Hawks should be revoked as part of an wholesale review of government policy on Indonesia. Mr Campbell added there was now an overwhelming case for allowing MPs to scrutinise all future arms exports via a special select committee, after the arms to Iraq and Sierra Leone affairs, and the troubles in East Timor. Earlier, Defence Procurement Minister, Baroness Symons sought to play down the significance of inviting Indonesia to attend the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition, due to be held next month. She said the invitation was a recognition of the country's right to defend itself, as guaranteed by the United Nations Charter. And she repeated Mr Cook's insistence that the Indonesian regime had given absolutely specific assurances that Hawk jets, made by British Aerospace, would not be used again over East Timor. ''The assurances we have had are sufficient to say you have the right under the UN Charter ... to come and look at the equipment that you may be able to get for that self defence and we have the right to decide whether or not to grant you the licence,'' she said. Baroness Symons said the licence under which the Hawks were sold was granted by the previous Conservative government headed by John Major. She also said that Indonesia was now a country in transition since it held democratic elections earlier in the year following the deposition of former dictator President Suharto.

East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign Suite 16, Dame House 24-26 Dame Street Dublin 2 Telephone 00 353 1 671 9207/ 677 0253 /623 3148 Mobile 087 286 0122 Fax 00 353 1 671 9207 Timorese Community in Ireland 00 353 1 453 1462 web Offices in: Dublin Belfast Laois Galway Claremorris

Back to September Menu
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu