Vol. 5, No. 2
Humanitarian Team in Liquiça
U.S. "Deeply Disturbed" by Militia Attacks
ET Observer Project Needs Support
ETAN-NY Dedicates "East Timor Way"
|Excerpts From the First Weekly Bulletin from East Timor issued by
the International Federation for East Timor Observer Project
The following is taken from a weekly bulletin published by IFET-OP in Dili, available by email from firstname.lastname@example.org or at the IFET website [http://www.etan.org/ifet]. For paper subscriptions, contact the U.S. IFET-OP office at 831-728-4190.
Following an official inauguration on June 22nd, 1999 the IFET-OP Dili office and compound is in full operation. There are currently several full-time staff members from the United States, Germany and Canada living in the compound, with more soon to follow.
In the last few weeks our staff has met with many church officials, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and student organizations. The well-known East Timorese human rights NGO Yayasan HAK has agreed to work closely with IFET-OP. Yayasan HAK has formed its own "Committee for a Free and Independent Ballot". The Indonesian NGO Volunteer Team for Humanity will also work with IFET-OP to station observers throughout East Timor.
Not much has changed in the political arena in the last few months. The military and police still have an overwhelming presence and continue to back the pro-integration militia reign of terror. Whenever a request for intervention or protection is made, either by Timorese or UNAMET, the police drag their feet or, more often than not, simply refuse to provide any assistance.
During our numerous interviews with Timorese, church officials and NGOs, we ascertained that the civil government has been conducting a program to "socialize the offer of wide-ranging autonomy." Though according to UNAMET's schedule the campaign period has not begun, the provincial government of East Timor actively campaigned for autonomy from the moment the agreement was signed.
From the governor to the village head, the bureaucracy has been organized to promote autonomy. While the military, police, and militias are terrorizing pro-independence civilians into silence, the civil bureaucracy has been openly campaigning for autonomy.
The governor has funneled funds down the chain of command: the bupati, camat, and kepala desa have all been allotted money for the explicit purpose of "socializing autonomy." In the villages, the government has a "door-to-door" system. Four people in each village are paid to persuade or coerce other villagers into supporting autonomy. The campaigners never mention that the rejection of autonomy will lead to independence; they instead describe the result of such a vote as "civil war." They tend to clarify the meaning of such "civil war" by threatening to kill people if they reject autonomy. The campaigners tell people that the vote will not be secret and that the government will know how each individual voted.
Government sources in Dili report major budgetary cuts in many departments, from which funds are diverted for promoting autonomy. This is confirmed by Yayasan HAK's Committee for a Free and Independent Ballot, which accuses East Timor's Jakarta-appointed governor of approving three billion rupiah (US$461,000) for each district to spend on autonomy promotion.
An illegal voter registration form obtained by AFP news service shows a space for the sub-district and columns for name, gender, age and address. The column for voting preference offers two choices: "Accept Autonomy" or "Reject Autonomy".
At night in Liquica and other areas, drunken militia and Indonesian military personnel violate women and girls. Women are removed from their families and raped - gang raped in many cases. On Tuesday June 29, a delegation of women from the Asia Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) held a press conference in Dili to report on their seven-day investigation. Among examples the delegation cited was the case of a 22-year old woman, six months pregnant, who was "taken from her home on May 15, 1999, beaten and gang-raped by 10 members of the Besi Merah Putih militia and five Indonesian soldiers, including the commander named C. Lucas."
They also cited the case of a "woman raped in front of her husband while her husband was beaten." The woman had not received a medical exam because only Indonesian doctors, whom she does not trust, were available (though the widely respected U.S. doctor Dan Murphy continues to practice in Dili, Australian and Philippine doctors recently attempting to enter East Timor were turned back).
The APCET delegation submitted to UNAMET documentation of extreme violence against women. The UN mission promised to present the findings to the Indonesian authorities. Patricia Kelly, an Irish attorney accompanying the APCET delegation, clarified how unlikely the prosecution of the perpetrators is by noting that there are no Timorese in the judiciary, and only two Timorese prosecutors, both forbidden to work on any cases involving Timorese.