etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer Fears of Bloodbath Around Time of August 30 Ballot

International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP)

CONTACT in DILI Tel: 62-390-321969 Fax: 62-390-321264
Contacts: Sabine Hammer or Russell Anderson

MEDIA RELEASE - August 25, 1999

Fears of Bloodbath Around Time of August 30 Ballot International observers ask UN Secretary-General Annan to upgrade security

Dili, East Timor -
Elements of the Indonesian security apparatus and pro-integration militias are intimidating East Timorese voters to such an extent as to throw into question the legitimacy of the ballot next week, the International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP) states in a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Furthermore, there are pervasive and credible fears that elements of the Indonesian security apparatus and the paramilitary groups with which they are allied will launch a wave of terror around the time of the vote in an effort to derail the UN ballot. For this reason, IFET-OP requests that the United Nations quickly "provide the security resources needed to facilitate a free and fair vote".

"The United Nations should demand that the Indonesian police immediately disarm and disband all paramilitary groups," says Saskia Kouwenberg, Co-Coordinator of IFET-OP. "Secretary-General Annan ought to call publicly for a withdrawal of all Indonesian military personnel and facilitate the deployment of more international security personnel before the announcement of the results of the August 30 ballot." The full text of this letter and its appended report are available on the IFET-OP website at

IFET-OP has 14 observer teams stationed throughout East Timor. Evidence gathered by the teams indicates continuing complicity by the Indonesian authorities with ongoing violence by militia groups against East Timorese in favor of independence.

In the town of Maubisse, for example, IFET-OP observers witnessed the Indonesian riot police (BRIMOB) distributing automatic weapons to militia members traveling to a pro-autonomy rally.

In Maliana, Indonesian military personnel are among the leaders of the local militias. Militia terror and intimidation have caused an estimated 2000 people to flee the area in the last two weeks. On August 20, the Indonesian police found the body of a well-known pro-independence activist kidnapped by militia members two days earlier. His left hand and four fingers on the right hand had been cut off. His forehead and jaw were fractured, his throat slashed. On the same day of the kidnapping, armed members of the Besi Merah Putih militia destroyed 15 houses in the village of Manapa (near Maliana) and all property inside, including the voter registration cards for next Mondayís ballot.

Over the last week, militia members and/or Indonesian police have intimidated IFET-OP observers on three separate occasions. On August 23, armed militia members stopped IFET-OP observers at a roadblock near the town of Aileu. One of the militia members, the local village head (a government official) threatened to kill the IFET-OP members.