Subject: Australian Forces Accused of Torture in East Timor

Also: Army orders investigation into claims Australian soldiers mistreated Timorese militia
 

The Age [Melbourne]
Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Australian Forces Accused of Torture in East Timor

By Deborah Snow

Fresh allegations of torture by Australian troops in East Timor will be made
in tonight's SBS Dateline program, with former militia members claiming they
were beaten, kicked, and had their heads forced down excrement-filled toilet
bowls during interrogation.

Two of the men also say they were forced into cubicles where wasps' nests
were present, with their Australian interrogators allegedly stirring up the nests
so the detainees would be stung.

The group further claims that one of their number, Yani Ndun, is missing,
having last been seen alive in the custody of InterFET, the Australian
intervention force in East Timor.

The program says the group of six men were picked up by the Australian army
around September 22, 1999, just days after Australian forces landed in the
strife-racked province.

The six were all members or suspected associates of the Aitarak militia, one
of the most feared of the anti-independence groups, which went on a rampage
after East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in an August 30
referendum.

Three members of the group interviewed by SBS say they were taken by their
Australian captors to an empty football stadium where they were forced into
wasp-infested toilets and had their heads pushed down toilet bowls.

Jao Ximenes, one of the interviewees, said:"They put our faces in fresh shit
in the toilet and they made us sleep there."

Once it got dark, the group say they were taken to a high school and told to
sleep on outdoor tennis courts. There they say some members of the group were
beaten and kicked, and one hit with a rifle butt.

The army has made no detailed response to the allegations but confirmed it
had held two of the men, Jao Ximenes and Caitano Da Silva, in custody. The army
denied having any information on the missing man, Yani Ndun, and said that the
"interrogation techniques used by Australian InterFET soldiers in East Timor
were in accordance with the Geneva conventions".


Army orders investigation into claims Australian soldiers mistreated Timorese militia

November 5, 2003 10:34pm

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) ? The army Thursday ordered an investigation into allegations that Australian peacekeepers stuffed the heads of pro-Jakarta militiamen down toilets in East Timor.

The government-funded Special Broadcasting Service television network reported Wednesday night that six captured pro-Indonesian fighters were humiliated and had their heads pushed into toilets by Australian troops in Dili on Sept. 20, 1999.

The latest claims follow 19 earlier allegations of misconduct and mistreatment in the past three years, including allegations Australian troops kicked the dead bodies of militiamen.

The defense force has investigated those allegations and not filed any charges.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Peter Leahey said in a statement he had ordered an investigation into the latest claims. Defense Minister Robert Hill refused comment while the latest allegations were still under investigation.

Leahey said based on the ``limited information' provided by the Dateline program, the army had found that three of the six men had been detained and then released in ``late September 1999,' but had no records of the other three men named in the program.

Australia won praise from around the world for marshaling and leading an international force that poured into East Timor in September 1999 to quell a violent rampage by pro-Indonesian militia groups after the half-island state voted for independence from Jakarta.

Canberra's leadership of the force severely damaged relations with Indonesia.
 


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