Subject: Age: Indon military `purges' militia to cover up atrocities

The Age Monday 11 October 1999

Indons `purge' militia



Australian intelligence agencies have new evidence that Indonesian military officials are systematically covering up their East Timor atrocities, with a program to intimidate and kill pro-integration militiamen who carried out much of the carnage.

Defence and diplomatic sources have told The Age that Australia has received detailed signals intelligence about the Indonesian military's plans to cover its tracks before a proposed United Nations human rights investigations.

Senior Federal Government figures have been made aware of the evidence, which has been analysed by other intelligence agencies after collection by Australia's Defence Signals Directorate, the sources said.

The intelligence is believed to detail conversations between senior Indonesian Army (TNI) figures in Bali, West Timor and possibly Jakarta about silencing senior and middle-ranking militiamen who may be persuaded to assist the UN with inquiries.

The intercepted conversations add to a growing body of evidence that senior TNI figures were arming and organising the militias before encouraging them to kill pro-independence supporters after the 30August East Timor autonomy vote.

"The (intelligence) indicates a very deep concern by senior people in TNI about the possibility of war crimes and human rights inquiries, and shows that they will go to great lengths - any length - to cover their tracks ahead of such inquiries," a source told The Age. "The information is on the lines that if any militia guys show signs of splitting from the (TNI) program ... or show signs of talking to UN investigators, then the militia members will be taken out, liquidated.

"There are suggestions that deaths have already occurred there (in West Timor)."

The sources said Australian intelligence agencies also had photographs and other satellite imagery showing large numbers of East Timorese refugees being killed at sea.

"There are images of Indonesian boats leaving port filled with people and arriving at another port ... with hardly anybody on board," a source said. "There are more specific images which ... show people, believed to be East Timorese, being dumped at sea."

The Defence Minister, Mr John Moore, yesterday refused to discuss the material, telling The Age: "I can't comment on intelligence." A spokeswoman for the Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, also declined to comment.

The existence of the material could heighten pressure on the Government to disclose information held by Australian intelligence agencies to the UN's commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in East Timor.

While Australia co-sponsored the UN resolution calling for the inquiry and expressed willingness to cooperate, the Government has not yet specified what form its assistance will take.

On Friday the Australian branch of Amnesty International wrote to the Prime Minister urging the Government to demonstrate its "commitment to justice" by supplying the commission with "all intelligence and other information" about violations of human rights in East Timor.

Australia's relationship with Indonesia could be further strained if the Government agrees to provide the UN with its intelligence about Indonesian military abuses.

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