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Subject: ABRI in East Timor
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998 17:29:01 +0000
From: "ETISC" <>

East Timor International Support Center PO Box 651 Nightcliff Australia Ph 61 8 89484458

ABRI in East Timor. Will they ever leave?

The answer to this is:

ABRI will never leave East Timor - until East Timor is independent

1. Troop numbers in East Timor since 1975 Actual troop numbers in East Timor since 1975 are not known, but two patterns are apparent a) Indonesia has always claimed to have fewer troops in East Timor than actually are there. b) Indonesia has regularly said that it is reducing troop numbers in East Timor - for the sake of suggesting that there is no military problem - but at the same time has actually maintained troop numbers, or in fact increased them.

2. Troop numbers in East Timor now There are 30,000 to 40,000 Indonesian armed forces personnel in East Timor at the moment. This includes the army, police, airforce and a small number of naval personnel. It has been independently verified that there are 15,000 armed forces personnel in Dili alone (Dili population: 110,000). If the figure of 40,000 military is correct, and the total East Timor population of 800,000 is correct, then there is one military person for every 20 civilians!

Do not believe the often quoted figure of 12,000 total ABRI in East Timor.

3. Current troop reductions a) It is said that 1,000 troops have left East Timor recently. We saw pictures of them on television, boarding troop carriers. However troops are leaving and arriving in East Timor every 3 months as part of the army's rotation of troops policy, so it is impossible to tell whether this is an actual reduction or whether fresh troops will replace them, as has been the case for years. ABRI never tell the truth about troop numbers (see point 1 above), so there is every reason to disbelieve this current claim. It is likely that ABRI will also give false figures to President Habibie and Ali Alatas. Who can ever know the actual numbers - except ABRI?

b) Supposing there IS an actual reduction of 1,000 troops, this still only amounts to 1,000 out of 40,000 (or to be kind, 30,000). It must be stressed that the figure of 12,000 (probably promulgated by ABRI) is totally false.

c) Simultaneously with the departure of 1,000 troops came the arrival in East Timor of 263 new army and police personnel. Is this in accord with the troop reduction claim? These personnel are said to consist of:

1) 155 army officers with specialities in health and mental counselling. Being positive, these officers may be treating people in Dili public hospital. If this is true ABRI will probably advertise this altruistic act. Being realistic the officers are probably going to treat ABRI' s own personnel in Dili military hospital. (Why not take the troops home and treat them in Java?). 2) 108 personnel from the police's special mobile brigade. These men are the SAS of the Indonesian police, the macho men who play it tough on the streets of Dili and Baucau.

4. Will Indonesia reduce ABRI troop numbers in the near future The following quote from the 5 August 1998 Press Conference of UN Secretary General at UN Headquarters will answer this question. Those parts which are italicised (by me) give the clue.

Question: The withdrawal of troops has begun in East Timor. At what point do you think you will be able to say that all the forces will be withdrawn?

Mr Alatas: Well, we have been talking in Indonesia about reduction of forces because, to a certain extent - like in all other regions of Indonesia - there may always be a residue of forces there, but in a much reduced form. This is what is happening now. The first reductions have taken place. They will continue gradually in stages and, of course, always taking into account the security conditions and the security needs of the region.

Clearly Indonesia intends that ABRI will remain firmly entrenched in East Timor during this current period of negotiations, AND, during all elections in East Timor. If East Timor is granted autonomy, as a special case - which is Indonesia's aim - ABRI will be there as the controlling force. Why? Because, as Ali Alatas said above, they need to "take into account the security conditions (in East Timor) and the security needs of the region". It is ABRI who will be the force behind any future elections; it is ABRI who will safeguard the future security of the autonomous province of East Timor! ABRI's two main weapons - force and bribery - will become entrenched in East Timor for all time.

One of East Timor's prime demands must be the TOTAL withdrawal of ABRI as a pre-condition for progress in negotiations.

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