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Subject: Trouw on situation in Alas and Timor
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 21:17:31 GMT


This title heads a Page One article in the Dutch newspaper, Trouw, today by journalist Minka Nyhuis. This is a short summary, dictated by phone this afternoon. No time to make a full translation:

To get to Alas takes eight hours from Dili along a road through very rough terrain. The area is now totally sealed off.

A Timorese, 34-year old Arende managed to escape, reaching Dili and told me about conditions there. His eyes were bloodshot with fear of what he had experienced.

He said that the area has been in a state of mounting tension since October. This was at a time when the students were still holding political meetings to discuss the country's future. Then rumours began to circulate that ABRI troops were planning to kill all young people over the age of 15 to prevent them from supporting the armed resistance, Falintil.

Soon after, masked men dressed in black in the style of ninjas started to appear, frightening the population. These ninjas have also been appearing in other parts of East Timor. They have been threatening the local villagers.

As the tensions mounted, Falintil launched an attack on the military post, Koramil on 9 November which led to retaliation by troops. Arende was lucky to have been able to escape. He told me he wants the UN to come to East Timor fast in order to put a stop to all the bloodshed. He stressed that the greatest problem in East Timor today is the huge presence of Indonesian troops. The sub-district of Alas is now full of troops and more have been brought in over land and from the sea. Some of the soldiers cannot be identified as they are not wearing their insignia.

Arende also said that troops from Battalion 315 have set up a new command post on a hill-top to keep control over all vehicles coming in and out of the area.

Bishop Belo has appeal for humanitarian assistance to the people in the area where water supplies have been cut off and food supplies are running low.

As she wrote, Nyhuis was sitting in the tiny office of the Students Solidarity Council in Dili and as she sat there, refugees were streaming in from various parts of the country, fear showing clearly on their faces and reporting that many people have been arrested, especially the youth.

Until recently, there had been an atmosphere of openness in East Timor with mass meetings discussing East Timor's future. 'Now we are paying with our lives for this openness,' one student leader told her.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

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