site menu spacer ETAN Press Release: For Immediate Release October 30, 1998
Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668

Documents Reveal Troop Levels Unchanged Despite Indonesian Claims
Rights Groups Call for International Monitoring and Genuine Withdrawal 

The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) and Justice for All today called for international observers to be sent to East Timor to verify the true extent of Indonesian military personnel in East Timor and to monitor any claimed withdrawals.

"Their own confidential military documents show that Indonesia cannot be trusted to keep its word about the true number of troops or the status of troop withdrawals from East Timor," said John M. Miller of the East Timor Action Network. "Clearly, international verification is needed. This would be a long overdue first step toward Indonesia finally complying with U.N. resolutions calling for their withdrawal from the territory."

Leaked Indonesian documents obtained by ETAN show that troop levels remained unchanged in August, after the Indonesia military (ABRI) staged for the international media what it said was a withdrawal of 1000 troops from the territory.

The documents contain personnel data which reveal that 7938 combat troops were still stationed in East Timor in August, unchanged from the level a month earlier when troop cuts were supposed to have occurred. According to the documents, the total number of ABRI troops and Indonesian-trained militias was 21,620. The documents show that this is anearly 2000 more troops than the previous November.

The documents also show that units of the Kopassus red berets, are also attached to the Dili command. The Australian newspaper reported that "sources said at least one Kopassus company of some 140 troops had been withdrawn. But this leaves one Kopassus company and a Kopassus intelligence and headquarters unit still in the territory." Indonesia claims that all special forces have been withdrawn.

Reports of ongoing U.S. military training Kopassus, notorious for committing human rights violations in both East Timor and Indonesia, led to a Congressional ban on the training of foreign military units with a history of violating human rights. ETAN and Justice for All revealed details of this training earlier this year.

The documents contradict the claim by Indonesia that paramilitary groups are not under ABRI's control. These groups have been accused of being frequent and severe violators of human rights. An analysis of the documents by the East Timor International Support Center, which released the documents in Australia, says that "these forces are perceived by ABRI administration to be part of their operational structure." Indonesia has always claimed that "they are more like civilian vigilante groups and are not the responsibility of the Indonesian army."

Recently, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas admitted there were a few combat troops in East Timor and that territorial battalions numbered only about 6,000.

On December 7, 1975, Indonesia brutally invaded East Timor. The following July East Timor was illegally but formally "integrated" into Indonesia as its "27th province." The U.N. and most of the world's countries do not recognize this act, and the East Timorese reject it. According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church more than 200,000 -- one-third of the population – have been killed by the Indonesian occupation forces.

The East Timor Action Network/US supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor and democracy in Indonesia. Justice for All is a grassroots group working for human rights and economic justice.

Detailed analysis of documents.

Check out the story on the CNN or BBC sites, or the Reuters, AAP and AFP accounts on Timor Postings.