Subject: Fwd: Dili's Traitor Risks Return to His Own

The Australian 6 Nov 99

Dili's traitor risks return to his own


WHEN former enemies gather in East Timor, chairs are grabbed, cigarettes passed around and coffee is served.

Paolo P. Araujo is a 43-year-old East Timorese who was, until recently, a TNI (army) chief-sergeant intelligence officer selling his own people up the river to his Indonesian bosses.

On September 8, he took his service pistol and hand-radio and surrendered to Falintil.

In choosing not to leave East Timor with his army comrades, Mr Araujo has gambled dangerously. He has put himself at the mercy of people who remember him as a mean-mannered soldier and spy who loitered on his motorbike in public places, making lists of names and conducting street-side inquisitions.

In recent days, the wide-smiling Mr Araujo has been receiving small delegations of curious East Timorese men who just want to hear him explain himself.

"Look how nice he is," said my translator, Jules. "As an activist, I remember how scared I was of him."

Mr Araujo said he had stayed behind because he felt he "must be here, with the East Timorese".

Mr Araujo's guests quietly disagreed with him, suggesting the truth was more likely that, as an East Timorese who spied on East Timorese, Mr Araujo had served out his usefulness to the Indonesians.

And as a chief-sergeant who had earned only Rp 1,200,000 (approximately $40), he knew his pay was never likely to improve outside East Timor.

Besides, did he not own this, his own house in Dili? Would he ever get the chance to own another home in some other part of Indonesia? But most crucially of all, he had a step- brother in Falintil who he hoped could argue for lenience on his behalf. Correct?

Mr Araujo nods. "As a Timorese, I worked for the TNI to fulfil my life," said Mr Araujo, "but I never did bad things to people."

Mr Araujo said he had been with the TNI since 1978. "My specific job was as an intelligence officer," he said. "We mainly had to get information about Falintil. If they were found to be activating against the Government, I would report it."

Mr Araujo agreed he was well-known to the East Timorese as a TNI yes-man. "Probably I'm famous in a bad way," he said. "But now I will give myself back to the population to evaluate my work with the TNI. I will be ready to receive any punishment. If one day we establish our nation and I am assessed as a criminal, so be it."

He said the TNI tortured people "always", but such scenes were withheld from Timorese-born TNI such as himself. "My guns never killed anyone," Mr Araujo said.

With the last of the TNI now gone from East Timor, Mr Araujo feels confident enough of his own conscience ­ or perhaps the influence of his stepbrother ­ to remain visible in Dili.

"Falintil knows him, he's not going anywhere," said one of the men.

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