Subject: SCMP: Timor's Guterres Forms Papua Militia

Also: AP - Indonesian Rts Groups Slam Papua Police Chief Appointment

South China Morning Post Tuesday, December 2, 2003


Timor's Guterres forms Papua militia

Rights activists fear the group may try to spark a conflict


A notorious East Timorese militia leader has formed a militia group in the mining town of Timika, a Papuan rights group reported yesterday.

Feared militia leader Eurico Guterres was sentenced to 10 years' jail in November last year for instigating attacks on pro-independence leaders during East Timor's bloody referendum in August 1999. He was released pending an appeal - which could take years - and formed the Laskar Merah Putih, or Red and White Warriors militia, last month, the Papuan rights group Elsham said.

"He has 200 members and they consist of refugees from Maluku, Timor and Sulawesi," said Elsham's head, Aloysius Renwarin.

"The Papuan community is afraid this group will be used to create a conflict," she added.

The 29-year-old militia leader was continuing to sign up members and had asked the local government in Timika to provide the group with an office, Ms Renwarin said.

The report came as a national police spokesman in Jakarta said yesterday that a former Indonesian head of police in East Timor, who has been acquitted of charges of gross rights violations, would head the force in the troubled province of Papua.

Inspector-General Timbul Silaen would replace Inspector-General Budi Utomo, who was taking the top police slot in East Kalimantan province, deputy police spokesman Sunarko Danu Ardanto said.

Inspector-General Silaen, 55, headed the Indonesian police in East Timor from June 1998 until September 1999, when unrest broke out after the pro-independence results of a UN-held poll were announced. He was acquitted of all charges of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999 by an ad-hoc Indonesian human rights court in August last year.

Guterres was given the harshest sentence ever handed out by the court for leading at least two violent attacks on pro-independence Timorese supporters in 1999.

The Red and White Warriors militia group, reportedly now led by Guterres, was formed by joining forces with Muslim militia groups, which consisted mainly of non-Papuan migrants who live in Papua, said Ms Renwarin.

Reports of Guterres' move to Papua and his training of militia had appeared in the Timika Post newspaper, according to Elsham. The organisation said it suspected Guterres might have the support of either the central government in Jakarta or local militias to intimidate Papuans who oppose their province being split into two or three.

"Most Papuans oppose the division of the province, so maybe he [Guterres] can influence the Papuan community not to oppose the division," said Ms Renwarin, who pointed out that Guterres had strong ties to President Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, and was appointed head of one of her civilian security groups in 2000.

Jakarta has supported the division of the province because it is seen as a way of diluting the Papuan independence movement, analysts say. "People with a security-minded approach are very concerned about separatism and believe, mistakenly, that this is a way to combat it," said political analyst Kevin O'Rourke.

Papuans yesterday marked the 42nd anniversary of their failed declaration of independence. Since 1961, the armed Free Papua Movement has fought a sporadic guerilla war against the Indonesian military, which annexed Papua in 1962.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse


Indonesian Rts Groups Slam Papua Police Chief Appointment

JAKARTA, Dec. 1 (AP)--Indonesian rights groups Tuesday criticized the appointment of a police officer accused in the 1999 East Timor violence as the new chief in restive Papua province, saying it showed that security forces cared little about human rights or justice.

Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen was named Monday as the new head of police in Papua, where a small band of separatist guerrillas is battling Jakarta rule. He headed the police in East Timor when it voted overwhelmingly for independence in 1999 after 24 years of brutal Jakarta rule.

After the vote, police and soldiers backed by militia proxies waged a bloody campaign of vengeance, killing more than 1,000 people and destroying much of the territory.

Silaen was acquitted by an Indonesian court in 2002 on charges he failed to prevent the violence. The tribunal, which convicted just six of 18 Indonesian officials accused in the bloodshed, has been widely dismissed as a sham.

Since then, a U.N.-led team of prosecutors in East Timor has indicted Silaen, and several other Indonesian officials, over their alleged role in the violence.

Hendardi, who heads Indonesia's Human Rights and Legal Aid Association, said the appointment sends a message to police and military critics that senior officers would never be punished for alleged rights abuses in East Timor.

"This is to show the public that the military did nothing wrong in East Timor. It means they do not care about justice," said Hendardi, who goes by a single name. "The perpetrators (of the violence) are being rewarded," he said.

All the six Indonesian officials convicted by the Jakarta tribunal remain free on appeal, and most continue to hold high-ranking positions in the police and army.

Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri, the highest ranking officer convicted in the violence, has played a key role in Jakarta's latest bloody offensive against separatists in Aceh province

Indicted By East Timor Prosecutors

Police in Jakarta defended Silaen's appointment.

"The Indonesian police has put its full trust in him to carry out his duties in Papua," said spokesman Brig. Gen. Soenarko. "The charges of human rights abuses in East Timor have been dropped by the Indonesian court. We are satisfied with that."

He declined to comment on the indictment by East Timorese prosecutors.

East Timorese courts don't have the power to convict people in absentia. Indonesia has said that it won't extradite anyone to East Timor who has been charged for the 1999 violence.

East Timor's leaders, keen to maintain good relations with their giant neighbor and former occupier, have also said they don't intend to aggressively pursue demands the Indonesians allegedly behind the violence be brought to justice.

Silaen is expected to arrive in Papua in the coming weeks, said Soenarko. His appointment to Indonesia's easternmost province was part of a regular rotation, he said.

Papua has been home to a small guerrilla movement since 1963, when Indonesia seized the region after the Dutch pulled out. The province was formally annexed in 1969 after a U.N.-sanctioned ballot of tribal leaders that has since been condemned as a sham by Papuans and several U.N. officials who organized the vote.

-Edited By Kevin Lim

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