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Subject: 1st half 1998 human rights violations in East Timor
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 03:11:33 -0600
From: john roosa <>

Two important reports about human rights violations in East Timor for the first half of 1998 were issued in August. One was issued by the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission (run by the Catholic church in East Timor) and the other by Yayasan Hak (a legal aid NGO in Dili). Since I don't recall any previous description of their contents on this internet conference, I would like to ensure that solidarity activists are aware of the data they contain.

Each report, in Indonesian, is about 25 pages long. Both reports cover the same period: January 1 to June 30, 1998. The Diocesan Commission receives information from church officials throughout East Timor and has a staff of investigators in Dili. Yayasan Hak, as a legal aid office, receives reports from victims and eye-witnesses and represents the victims before the police and the courts. Both organizations have developed sound, professional methods for data collection so the information is reliable -- under current conditions the most reliable. I'll simply highlight the basic statistics concerning the violations.

Extra-Judicial Killings The Diocesan Commission documented 25 extra-judicial killings by the Indonesian security forces. Yayasan Hak documented 23 killings. The reports covered some of the same cases. If one puts the information from the two reports together one finds that there were 36 individuals in 20 separate incidents killed by the security forces over this six month period. The victims were all unarmed civilians. (The reports do not cover incidents of fighting between the guerrillas and the Indonesian military.) Thus, on average, ABRI killed one East Timorese civilian every five days.

There is no guarantee that there were no more than 36 extra-judicial killings. This figure only represents the cases that the two organizations were able to investigate and document.

Eighteen individuals were killed out of suspicion for helping the guerrillas. Typically, they were killed as the security forces were raiding their homes or accosting them on a road or in the hills. In some cases, the circumstances were unknown or unclear.

The ABRI units most involved in the killings were: Rajawali (seven incidents), the para-military teams under Kopassus -- Alfa Team, Saka Team, etc. (six), and Kopassus (five). In many cases, the units were acting together, in various combinations.

[Note: According to the ABRI documents leaked from the Korem office in Dili, dated August 1998, there are 403 Kopassus men in East Timor -- a relatively small number out of a total of 18,000 soldiers. But they are a crucial unit for tracking down those suspected of helping the guerrillas. There are 1200 youths in the paramilitary gangs and they appear in the documents to be listed as the "Civil Defense" militia (Wanra) of Kopassus. Rajawali troops, the "hunter" squads usually operating in the hills, appear nowhere in the listing of ABRI troops, suggesting that their personnel is drawn from units that are listed. These three units -- Kopassus, the paramilitary gangs, and Rajawali -- represent the hardcore terrorist units of ABRI and should be the first to be investigated by any future U.N. monitors and the first to be withdrawn, or in the case of the paramilitaries, disbanded.]

Disappearances The Diocesan Commission documented ten cases of disappearances. Eight of these occurred in the eastern third of East Timor. In seven cases, the victim was known to have been taken by the military. Yayasan Hak documented seventeen cases of disappearances, only one of which was also reported by the Diocesan Commission. Altogether, then, there were 26 cases of disappearances.

Thirteen of the cases documented by Yayasan Hak were connected with an attack by the security forces in the Atabae sub-district (Bobonaro district) on January 4. In the same attack, four individuals were killed by the security forces and seven were wounded. Yayasan Hak stated that the perpetrators of the attack were Rajawali troops and a para-military gang called Halilintar Team led by Joao Tavares (a former bupati of Bobonaro). [The leaked ABRI documents list the Halilintar Team as based in Atabae and containing 122 members, one of whom died in combat sometime in 1997-98.]

Arbitrary Arrest and Torture The Diocesan Commission documented 93 cases of arbitrary arrest and 25 cases of torture. Yayasan Hak combined these categories of arbitrary arrest and torture (penangkapan dan penyiksaan sewenang-wenang) and documented 88 cases.

The Yayasan Hak report explained the context for torture: "Generally, every arrest of a civilian in East Timor is accompanied by torture or mistreatment (penyiksaan). And the arrest and torture are not only done by the police, the agency empowered to arrest [under the Indonesian government's criminal code], but by agencies that are not empowered to arrest, such as the military (Kodims, Battalions, Rajawali, and the Intelligence Agency) and groups of civilians armed by ABRI (Halilintar, Makikit, Alfa, Saka, and others). And generally, those civilians arrested and tortured are those presumed to be behind political activities -- clandestine activities such as a secret meeting, organizing resistance against the government, providing logistical support or materially supplying the guerrillas in the forest. ...Generally, it only takes a suspicion or a report from an intelligence agent for the security forces to go and directly arrest a person. In the majority of cases, the arrest is not based on an arrest warrant. ...The form of the torture generally inflicted on the victim involves kicking, stomping, hitting with an iron rod, removing the fingernails or smashing them under table legs, electric shock on all parts of the body (including the genitals), burning with cigarettes, dunking in dirty water, among other tortures."

The single largest case was the arrest of 15 men, ages 22-30, in Lospalos on February 9. They were detained and tortured at the police station.

Rape The Diocesan Commission documented six cases of rape by security forces. Yayasan Hak documented two. Altogether, there were eight separate cases. Again, these only represent reported cases. Three of the cases occurred in the sub-district Hatolia, district Ermera, on April 22. One of the victims was 12 years old. The perpetrators were the security forces assigned to the Hatolia Post.

Given the current emergency in the Manufahi district, ABRI appears determined to compile a record for the second half of 1998 that is just as miserable, horrific and heart wrenching as its record for the first half.

Titles of the reports: Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission (Komisi Keadilan dan Perdamaian Keuskupan Dili), "Laporan Perkembangan Situasi HAM di Timor Timur, Semester 1, Tahun 1998."

Yayasan HAK, "Laporan Pelanggaran Hak Asasi Manusia di Timor Timur, Periode 1 Januari - 30 Juni 1998." END

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