Subject: UN finds proof of joint operations with militia
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 02:06:43 EDT
From: Joyo@aol.com

Excerpt: The real nature of the links between the armed forces and police and the militia remains a delicate area for public discussion in Jakarta. It has been ignored in recent days in the Indonesian press, though the violence has been covered fully and correctly attributed to the pro-integrationatist militias

Foreign witness accounts that the army and police have stood by and watched the violence have not been reported. "This is a very delicate issue," says one observer, "because it is related to patriotism and national pride."

The Guardian [UK] Tuesday September 7, 1999

Revealed: how army directed violence

Secret report: UN finds proof of joint operations with militia

John Gittings in Jakarta

Direct evidence of complicity by the Indonesian military in the East Timor killings has been compiled by the United Nations, according to leaked internal documents.

The documents prepared by the UN mission to East Timor (Unamet) say that there have been "joint operations" between army, police and militia, including burning of houses and attacks on civilians. The revelations - published in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald - came as the armed forces chief, General Wiranto, said Indonesia may put the territory under military rule.

The documents conclude that there has been "a deliberate strategy to force Unamet to withdraw from certain regions back to Dili".

They accuse the military of instigating the weekend shooting of an American UN police officer in Liquisa by the militias. The UN says that in another incident militia were ordered by a group of Indonesian officers to shoot at trucks carrying UN staff and journalists.

Local police and their families are said to have been threatened themselves by the army if they sought to prevent the violence.

General Wiranto's hint of martial law adds to speculation in Jakarta about the real motives of the Indonesian army. Observers differ as to whether it is a last-ditch protest against "losing East Timor", or could mean a serious effort to frustrate the territory's independence.

"In the short term", General Wiranto said yesterday, "we will bring in (more) forces. Certainly we are going to evaluate the status of this area, whether it will continue to be under civilian orders or whether there is going to be a change."

He claimed that violence was not allowed in East Timor: "We will not tolerate any brutal acts, whatever the reason." He also continued to urge all Indonesians to accept the result.

Deeply upset

But Indonesian analysts say that senior army officers are deeply upset by the loss of East Timor, and that what is now happening was to a large extent predictable.

"Everyone knows that the militia received a lot of support long before the ballot," says a military affairs academic. "The armed forces are not happy: by letting what is happen go unimpeded, they send a very strong message.

"This could be a conscious act to let the violence turn into chaos. When the situation is completely chaotic the military may push for martial law. They can then use this as a pretext and try to postpone ratification of the vote."

Another specialist says a "psychological affinity" between the army and the militia grew up when fighting the pro-independence guerrillas in East Timor.

Salim Said of the University of Indonesia says: "I have talked to generals who say 'we have sacrificed too much. Some of our subordinates became casualties; we built churches, streets and universities'."

But Salim, who also lectures at an army staff college, does not believe the army will in the end frustrate independence.

"This is an irrational situation," he says. "The army's position is very low in society because it was a tool of the Suharto government."

There is widespread agreement that the chaos in East Timor is being used by factions in the ruling elite to weaken B J Habibie ahead of November when a new president will be chosen.

Many Indonesians take exception to international pressure for a quick solution to which Habibie yielded when he announced that East Timor would gain independence if it rejected autonomy within the Republic of Indonesia.

A slower process, it is argued, would have avoided giving political ammunition to the military and allowed time to reconcile the factions.

Yesterday's English-language Jakarta Post published a long summary of criticisms with the headline "Habibie under fire". Political figures across the country were said to be demanding that he is "held accountable for the likely separation of Indonesia's 27th province."

The real nature of the links between the armed forces and police and the militia remains a delicate area for public discussion in Jakarta. It has been ignored in recent days in the Indonesian press, though the violence has been covered fully and correctly attributed to the pro-integrationatist militias

Foreign witness accounts that the army and police have stood by and watched the violence have not been reported. "This is a very delicate issue," says one observer, "because it is related to patriotism and national pride."

The UN documents are specific in accusing the armed forces of fomenting violence. They cite specific examples in towns outside Dili, including a threat to burn down a UN compound by a militia leader who said he was acting on instructions from an Indonesian major.

In Liquisa, Indonesian police and military personnel were not only assisting the militias in an attack but also shooting at UN vehicles, according to the report.

Back to September Menu
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu