Subject: SMH: Raped girl's plight to go before UN Rights Commission

Saturday, March 17, 2001 Raped girl's plight to go before UN

By Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Dili

Kirsty Gusmao, the Australian wife of East Timor independence leader Xanana Gusmao, plans to raise the case of an East Timorese teenage girl abducted by a notorious militia leader before the UN's International Commission of Human Rights in Geneva.

In one of the worst individual cases of militia violence that followed the 1999 independence vote, Juliana dos Santos, of Suai, was 15 when she was abducted as a "war prize" by Igidio Mnanek, the deputy commander of the Laksaur militia. She was taken across the border into West Timor to live a life of virtual sexual slavery.

On September 6, 1999, hours before her abduction, she emerged a survivor from the bloody carnage of the Suai cathedral massacre that left as many as 200 people killed, including her younger brother Carlos, her only sibling.

Repeated attempts to persuade Indonesian authorities in West Timor to allow a family reunion with Juliana's distraught parents have fallen on deaf ears, and attempts by aid agencies to secure her release have so far failed.

Ms Sword Gusmao said she had the full support of Juliana's family, including her parents and aunt and uncle, who flew to Dili on Thursday to help prepare a statement to be read before the Human Rights Commission, which is meeting at the end of the month.

Two letters received from Juliana showed all the signs of having been dictated by her captor Mnanek, with whom she had now started to form a type of psychological dependency known as Stockholm syndrome, Ms Sword Gusmao said.

According to human rights officials, Juliana was raped by Mnanek at the Suai district military headquarters before being taken across the border. In December she gave birth to a son, probably fathered by Mnanek.


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