Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 21:54:30 EDT

South China Morning Post Thursday, September 16, 1999

Revealed: the plot to crush Timor


The political cleansing of East Timor was planned as early as February, one of the militia leaders present at a meeting which hatched the deadly plot has revealed. Tomas Goncalves, 54, the former head of the 400-strong PPPI (Peace Force and Defender of Integration) militia said the killings had been agreed at a meeting on February 16 in the East Timorese capital, Dili. He said the talks were organised by the head of the SGI, the secret intelligence organisation of the military's Kopassus special forces.

The head, Lieutenant-Colonel Yahyat Sudrajad, called for the killing of pro-independence movement leaders, their children and even their grandchildren, Mr Goncalves said. Not a single member of their families was to be left alive, the colonel told the meeting.

Mr Goncalves said that also present were the heads of other militias covering the 12 regions of East Timor, including Eurico Guterres, of the Aitarak militia, and Joao Tavares of Besi Merah Putih.

According to Mr Goncalves, the colonel said many soldiers had died in East Timor and that it would be difficult for troops to leave the enclave because if they did, they would lose face. They were determined not to abandon their supporters in the territory.

The meeting came after President Bacharuddin Habibie announced on January 27 that he might consider independence for East Timor.

On February 11, a day after resistance leader Xanana Gusmao was moved from jail to house arrest, Mr Habibie said East Timor's future could be decided by the end of the year. Mr Goncalves said: "The agenda for the meeting included funding and arming of the militias, food and other supplies."

His revelations leave no doubt about the connection between Jakarta and the militias, or about the direct line of command.

Mr Goncalves said Colonel Sudrajad had received orders before the meeting from regional military commander Colonel Tono Suratman, who was answerable to General Adam Daimiri in command of Bali, East Timor and West Timor. General Daimiri in turn answered to General Zacky Anwar in Jakarta, himself the former head of Kabia, Indonesia's national intelligence body.

The meeting set the hour for the start of the political cleansing as midnight on May 1. However, on February 17, the following day, the militias began to kill throughout East Timor, launching attacks in Maliana, Atabai, Kailako and elsewhere. The survivors fled to churches and priests' houses for protection.

On March 26, Governor of East Timor Abilio Soares gave orders at a meeting, again attended by Mr Goncalves, that the priests and nuns should be killed.

Mr Goncalves said: "I could not stand it. I told them I have no problem fighting the [pro-independence] guerillas, but as a Catholic I could not kill priests and nuns and attack the Church."

Because of his stand, Mr Goncalves came under suspicion. He fled Jakarta on April 18 and is now in Macau.

Violence worsened dramatically in East Timor after the result of the UN-organised ballot was announced on September 4, showing support for independence.

Hundreds, possibly thousands of people were killed by the militias, encouraged or helped by troops.

Government and military spokesmen were unavailable for comment last night.

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