Subject: Indonesian military admits 'routine meetings' with militias

Jakarta Post December 28, 1999

Military admits 'routine meetings' with militias

JAKARTA (JP): An army general admitted on Monday that military officers in East Timor regularly met with prointegration militias accused of violence and destruction in the territory following the Aug. 30 self-determination ballot.

Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, former chief of the Udayana Military Command, said, however, that the meetings were aimed only "to maintain peace and order" in the territory.

East Timor was under the supervision of the Udayana Military Command when the ballot on East Timor's future was held.

"There were routine meetings between district military chiefs and the people to maintain security (in East Timor), but these were not uncommon practices for territorial units," Adam told reporters after being questioned by the government-sanctioned Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) in East Timor.

Apart from Adam, former East Timor military commander Brig. Gen. Tono Suratman appeared before the commission on Monday.

Violence erupted in the former Indonesian province following the ballot that resulted in an overwhelming vote against Jakarta's wide ranging autonomy proposal.

Both Adam and Tono insisted that there were no militias in East Timor, except self-initiated civilian guards.

The commission, in its midterm report, claimed that based on preliminary investigations and witnesses accounts, the Indonesian Military (TNI) was directly or indirectly involved in the violence perpetrated by militias.

Former TNI chief Gen. Wiranto denied the allegations during his questioning last week, saying that the violence was an emotional outburst which was neither premeditated nor controllable.

Wiranto, who is now coordinating minister for political affairs and security, Adam and Tono are among a number of top military officers being targeted in the inquiry.

Other officers to be questioned this week include Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Syamsuddin, Brig. Gen. Glen Kairupan and former East Timor Police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen.

Commission member Todung Mulya Lubis said later in the day that the leader of the prointegration forces, Joao da Silva Tavares, was scheduled to be questioned on Tuesday.

Tavares and a number of militia leaders failed to turn up for questioning last week, claiming that they were never summoned by the inquiry team. (byg)

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