Subject: SMH: Nun: 'Blood of victims seeped out of church'
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1999 15:58:14 EDT

Sydney Morning aHerald Monday, September 13, 1999

'Blood of victims seeped out of church'

By NINGRUM WIDYASTUTY in Kupang, West Timor and agencies

The nun has tears in her eyes as she tells of her last view of Suai.

"We were waiting to die. All of a sudden soldiers banged on the door.

"They said they wanted to rescue us, but that we were not to look at the Church.

"I tried to see it and I saw blood seeping in front of the church's door."

The blood was that of women, children and priests massacred at the church by pro-Indonesian militias last Monday. According to another nun, Sister Mary Barudero, who witnessed the massacre, Father Dewanto was the first to die.

The militiamen lined up outside the wooden church filled with refugees and the young Indonesian Jesuit priest stepped out bravely, dressed in his clerical robes to meet the trouble.

A burst of gunfire cut him down. Father Francisco followed. The blood soaked his white robes. The militiamen waited for the senior parish priest, Father Hilario. When he did not emerge, they kicked down the door to his study and sprayed him with automatic fire.

A nun watched from the window of her nearby house as a massacre followed, said Sister Barudero, who was nearby at the time. The militia men entered the church and began firing long bursts. Then they threw hand grenades into the huddled victims. One, two, three grenades. As they left, blood flowed down the doorstep.

Inside, there had been only young children and women, babies at their mothers' breasts, and pregnant women, Sister Barudero said. The men had fled days earlier.

"They went to the church because that's where they felt safe. They felt being near the priests was protection," said the 64-year-old nun.

The nuns' accounts of the massacre are one of the first descriptions of what happened in Suai. Sister Barudero agreed to talk because "I have lived my life. I am not afraid to die."

The other nun is now hiding in Kupang, the capital of Indonesian West Timor. She told the Herald that virtually all the adult males of Suai had fled to surrounding mountains before the massacre.

Most refugees in West Timor are in large camps, access to which is controlled by militias, police and the military.

Temporary housing at three camps around Kupang is mostly constructed from plywood and dry palm leaves.

"We've prepared for 100,000 refugees," said the Indonesian Social Affairs Minister, Mrs Justika Baharsjah, at the weekend.

Mr Pake Pani, the deputy Governor of West Timor, told the Herald that tens of thousands of refugees could be absorbed as part of Indonesia's transmigration program.

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