Subject: West TimorNews, 23 January 2001

Newspaper key: NTT X ­ NTT Ekspres; RT ­ Radar Timor;

Also: NTT X ­ “Fake Special Troop [Kopassus] soldier wanted to have power over E. Timor refugees”; NTT X ­ “TNI border posts and hopes for UNHCR’s return”

Tuesday, 23 January 2001 RT ­ “Atambua disturbed, local residents threatened with murder ­ Belu military commander: Those who triggered it have been identified!”

ATAMBUA ­ Dangerous! A disturbance has broken out once again in New Market (Pasar Baru), Atambua yesterday afternoon at about 3 p.m. Local residents were threatened with murder by former E. Timor refugees living there. It’s been suggested this action was to block the arrival of the UN humanitarian team to W. Timor.

The Radar Timor reporter reported from Atambua last night that hundreds of refugees from the Tulamalae camp chased local residents with knives, clubs, and machetes which the refugees grabbed from Sabunese who were selling them in New Market. It is suspected the conflict was triggered by two local youth ­ ST (22) and HK (24) who beat up 3 middle school students from E. Timor ­ Joanito Baros, Fernando dos Santos, and Joni. The three had gashes on their faces (cheek, forehead, below one eye) where they were stoned. The three were rushed to the Atambua hospital.

According to a number of residents, the three students had just left school and were waiting for a truck to take them home. They were suddenly attacked by ST and HK and beaten. The incident was immediately reported by other friends who witnessed the incident to the refugees at Tumalae camp. Without trying to hide their crime, hundreds of refugees, including former PPI members used a truck and went to the New Market complex in Atambua to search for the youth who beat the students. When they weren’t found, local residents became the target of the rage unleashed by the E. Timor refugee masses as they ran around stoning houses and beating up residents they found, including local youth who knew nothing of what had happened. Laurensius Manek, an Atambua resident was at the location at the time of the incident. He was beaten until he sustained wounds to his upper lip, head, and his entire body. Manek is now being treated at the local hospital.

Small traders along the road spontaneously dispersed seeking protection under storefront awnings and shop keepers closed their stores.

Residents were panicked and afraid and many of them ran from their homes. TNI intelligence from Belu district military 1605 who arrived at the scene wearing hood/gang attire were forced to be actively involved in trying to stop the refugee mass that was brutal, chasing anyone suspected of beating their friends. Former PPI Aitarak Commander, Domingos Pereira, after hearing about the incident immediately went to the location to stop the masses, which in the end he managed to do. He urged his men to restrain themselves and not engage in destructive actions that created a loss for everyone. He said the same thing to local residents. “Turn the problem over to security personnel,” he said. Domingos also regretted the attitude of the two local youth suspected of triggering the conflict. “All this time refugees are the ones accused of destructive actions, but this incident was triggered precisely by local residents. We ask the police to immediately finish this case transparently,” he said. Although Domingos said the perpetrators had been caught, police say they are still being chased.

At the same time, 1605/Belu Military District Commander, Lt. Col. Djoko Subandrio, went directly to the Atambua hospital to see the boys who were hit. He warned the masses on both sides not to be baited by the incident. “This problem is being handled by the police. Those who triggered it have been identified,” he said.

The incident began at around 3 p.m. and by 5 p.m. it appeared things were calm at Pasar Baru but very quiet since no one was out shopping. Fernando dos Santos, one of the boys who was hit, said he didn’t know why he and his friends were attacked while they were waiting for public transport to go home, but he suspected one of those who hit them had a problem with youth in the Pasar Baru district. He said that before they were attacked, several schoolmates had been drinking alcohol in one of their family’s houses until they were hit.

NTT X ­ “Fake Special Troop [Kopassus] soldier wanted to have power over E. Timor refugees”

ATAMBUA ­ The TNI soldier who posed as [Kopassus] in Belu on the border with E. Timor admitted he did this so that E. Timor refugees would obey him, so that if they were doing something brutal he would be able to handle them. He said that a lot of “militia” in the area obeyed him. “I was wrong to say I was a Kopassus Lt. Col., but my purpose was a good one, namely I wanted to be a person honored by E. Timor refugees, especially pro-integrationists in this territory,” he told reporters at the Belu police headquarters on Sat. (20/1). This former member of Baucau 1628 military district in E. Timor, with a rank of Second Sergeant and who was often involved in several Kopassus intelligence activities when he was in Dili, was caught by intelligence on 19/1. He also admitted his fake identity besmirched the good name of TNI, especially the elite Kopassus force and that he had falsified the license plate on the care he often uses. Nevertheless, he denied the accusation of extortion. He said that while he has been in Belu he has continued to help or invite E. Timor refugees to return home to their E. Timor villages, especially pro-integration “militia.” “I’ll be honest, I invited former ‘militia’ members to return to E. Timor first so that we could form a political party there and win the election. So I called myself a Kopassus Lt. Col. for a good purpose and you can check the truth of this.” He was once praised and got a 8.5 million rupiah bonus from Kopassus when he succeeded in finding a bomb that had been planted in a doll on the Tatamailau ship at the end of 1997. With the bonus he bought the red hard top. After seeking refuge in W. Timor he has worked privately on development projects, but he still wanted E. Timor refugees to bow to him. He claims to have intervened to settle arguments in which militia have been violent because they know and listen to him. “That the reason I said I was Kopassus.” He said he was ready to be tried in any manner at all.

NTT X ­ “TNI border posts and hopes for UNHCR’s return”

The presence of TNI at the border during the first two weeks of January has been under the people’s spotlight. The people of Silawan Village, E. Tasifeto Sub-regency have asked that the TNI Kostrad [Strategic Forces] posts on the road from Atambua be disbanded because an investigation of items carried occurs at every single post. “The local people feel their way is full of obstacles on the road from Silawan to Atambua and in the other direction. WE can understand examining items if the post is at the Mota’ain border crossing because that is the last post before entering Batugade, E. Timor territory,” said social leader David Manek. The people feel the posts are inefficient and everyone’s belongings are searched, not just those of people going into E. Timor.

The people of Lamaknen have also asked that the Kostrad posts headed towards Lamaknen be moved since the search of items of people returning home from Atambua to Lamaknen is felt not to be proportional. Another Belu social leader, Ose Luan, said, “This kind of search needs to be reviewed but at the same time we ask all components of society to really guard the good name of TNI Kostrad.”

There have also been requests for the return of UNHCR and IOM. Untas has asked for their return and has offered a guarantee of security. The same request has been made by former PPI leaders “We former PPI leaders request the return of international humanitarian agencies to help E. Timor refugees,” they wrote in a statement which among others was signed by PPI Aitarak Vice Commander, Domingos Perreira. They also say they will give a guarantee of security to each staff member of humanitarian agencies and are ready to accompany aid workers into the emergency tents. The bishops throughout Timor in their meeting on 5/1 also said they really realize how much refugees still in tents are suffering and urged international bodies to return to work in W. Timor to relieve such suffering as quickly as possible. They also hope the people of E. Timor still in W. Timor will freely choose to return to E. Timor and that no other groups will create problems for those who want to return to Timor Lorosae.

Willem da Costa has said that if there are refugees or E. Timorese who try to do anything to humanitarian aid workers in NTT, then TNI will not hesitate to take very strict actions against them. Without a guarantee of security, the E. Timor refugee problem will continue and be a very heavy burden for the govt. Lt. Col. Djoko Subandrio of Belu resort command 1605, said before people who went to the Belu House of Reps. to ask that the TNI posts be moved said their position had been determined based on several considerations. “Several security posts have been disbanded, but not all of them because the posts are very strategic for cross-border security and handling of local residents as well as refugees,” he stressed. Because of the addition of residents from E. Timor following the referendum in 1999, the placement of TNI posts is greatly needed for the security of the people and the confiscation of weapons from refugees based on UN Resolution 1319/2000.

According to Blasius Manek, Vice Speaker of the Belu House of Reps., the people in that territory have actually just asked that certain security personnel on duty there stop extorting money all along the highway from Atambua heading toward the border.

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