Subject: SOLIDAMOR: Deception on a grand scale
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 22:19:47 +0100 (BST)
From: (TAPOL)

PRESS RELEASE SOLIDAMOR - Indonesian Solidarity for Peace in East Timor 11 September 1998

The Indonesian government recently succeeded in deceiving Indonesian and foreign journalists on a grand scale when it invited the press to Dili to cover the 'withdrawal of troops' on 28 July 1998. Few if any journalists realised that on the very same day, two companies of the police force's BriMob arrived in East Timor. A few days later, on 6 August, another BriMob company arrived together with 94 army personnel attached to the 'Special Task-Force for Mental Guidance' and 61 more attached to the 'Health Task-Force'. The climax was reached on 2 August when a major re-deployment of regular troops occurred in East Timor. The facts are that:

- The 443 Infantry Battalion (Kostrad) and troops from the Navy and Kopassus arrived in the District of Lautem through Com harbour, - Battalions 744, 745 and 406 (also from Kostrad) conducted combat operations in the District of Manatuto, about five kilometers from Laleia.

Besides bringing in more regular troop reinforcements, the government have also retained the para-military troops, even bringing in yet more of these irregulars:

- The Alpha Team consisting of about 200 persons which operates in Lautem District, - The Saka Team consisting of about 200 persons which operates in Viqueque District, - The Makikit Team whose operational region stretches from Manatuto District to Ambeno District, excluding Bobonaro District, with a strength equivalent to a battalion, - The Garuda Team, the newly-created para-military group, which entered the territory from Kupang (West Timor) at the same time as the other regular troops arrived. This force consists of 3,000 troops and they began by conducting operations in Bobonaro District.

The striking thing about the para-military troops that operate in East Timor is that their style of operations is similar to the operations conducted in Jakarta and Aceh. It is not unlikely therefore that these were the groups responsible for instigating the May riots in Jakarta.

The general public in Indonesia should also realise is that pro-independence guerrillas in East Timor which are branded as 'security disruptor groups' (GPK) or 'wild disruptor groups' (GPL) are members of FALINTIL, the East Timor National Liberation Army. They are not security disruptors but are fighting in the bush for the independence of their country and are very clear about the aims of their struggle.

People should remember that a guerrilla struggle cannot possibly survive without support from society, and the fact is that FALINTIL has continued its struggle for independence for nearly a quarter of a century.

Indonesians should take a look at who it is who benefits from the occupation of East Timor. One thing is clear: the Indonesian people have nothing to gain from the military operations conducted there because our taxes are squandered on paying for all this military activity. These costs include:

Operational costs for helicopters which cost US$2,000 an hour to fly not including the cost of overhauls; the cost of war equipment, wages for all the regular and para-military personnel; the cost of the maintenance of motorised vehicles and of constructing military barracks; payment for phones, electricity and water, and a great deal more. It would be far better for us if this money were used to subsidise the nine basic commodities or at the very least to alleviate the economic burdens from which we are all now suffering.

Nor does any of this benefit the people of East Timor. In fact, it's even more burdensome for them. They have lost their loved ones. They live constantly in a climate of fear. And lower-ranking officers and other ranks in the Indonesian army who are located in East Timor have nothing to gain either. They are just cannon fodder, who may lose their lives for a useless cause, so as to advance the career prospects of their commanding officers.

The only ones to benefit are the high-ranking officers. East Timor is being used as a training ground for the armed forces and a stepping stone for quicker promotion. East Timor is also fertile soil for the business interests of serving and retired generals as well as for people with close links to the political elite.

In conclusion, we call on the Indonesian government to resolve the question of East Timor honestly and seriously in the interests of the common people and not for those in power, whether civilian or military.

Depok, 11 September 1998

Four SOLIDAMOR activists, Yenni Rosa Damayanti, Anas Alamudi, Deddy Syahputra and Robert Parulian who held the press conference, recently visited East Timor where they visited a number of regions, met young and old East Timorese people and also visited guerrillas who are fighting with FALINTIL.

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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