Subject: XANANA: Statement to UN Commission on Human Rights
Date: Fri, 02 Apr 1999 07:59:35 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

[Portuguese version follows the English]

xanana gusmão CNRT Timor-Leste


Over the past 23 years of Indonesian military occupation of our homeland, the East Timorese people have suffered countless violations of their most fundamental human rights. These violations have been extensively documented by international human rights organisations, and our recent history can be traced through the pages of these organisations’ reports and the bloody tale of ceaseless physical and mental repression which they contain.

Today, as a political solution to the East Timor problem draws closer, the repression and human rights abuses to which we have been subjected for so long are being stepped up by the occupying forces in an effort to rob us of our most fundamental and inalienable right: the right to self-determination.

The situation inside East Timor today is characterised by an increasing level of violence provoked by ABRI as it orchestrates the intimidation campaign carried out by the civilian militia groups it recently set up and armed. This escalation jeopardises all efforts towards reconciliation between the East Timorese, which we deem possible.

The reconciliation process has faced obstacles because, behind the acts of violence, are the Indonesian Armed Forces which are inciting the pro-integrationists to respond to our appeals for Peace with war-cries.

We question the sincerity of the Indonesian government in offering the Timorese people two options on their future, as rather than assisting in the promotion of a situation of stability in the territory, Jakarta has demonstrated nothing but ill-faith through its pursuit of a systematic policy of terror, of threats and murder of defenceless citizens.

The propaganda surrounding the threat of “civil war” now becomes a real threat, not of “civil war” in the sense of a war involving confrontation between two armed groups, but rather in the sense of the threat to the civilian population of a blood bath planned by ABRI and implemented by armed civilian militia groups.

The argument that the pro-integrationists require arms to defend themselves is without foundation as for the past 23 years the Falintil guerrillas have confronted dozens of Indonesian battallions, year after year and without respite, and never did the pro-integrationists feel the need then to defend themselves against anyone.

I wish to draw attention to the fact that only in October 1998 were civilian militia groups such as Mahidi (Dili), Aitarak (Ainaro), Besi Merah Putih (Liquiça) and Halilintar (Maliana) formed. More recently, other groups have been set up in Same, Aileu, Viqueque and Los Palos and ABRI is planning to form an armed front consisting of all armed groups to defend integration. The Commanders of these militias recently convened a meeting in Bali at which General Adam Damiri (Bali Territorial Commander) was present. The formation of this armed front which would consist of 2,000 armed men deployed throughout the entire territory was discussed.

The objective is to keep tight control over the population, forcing the people to opt for autonomy. The terror, intimidation and murder to which the people are already being subjected will be intensified. In order to increase the appearance of “chaos” in the territory, the civilian militas have forced people living close to the border to flee into West Timor in order to give the impression that they are being threatened by supporters of independence.

We have made serious efforts to quell the dissatisfaction, the anger and impatience of the people in various parts of the country who have come to make regular appeals for us to allow them to physically confront the armed groups. We have also kept the Falintil forces under our control, committing them to the process of Peace and reconciliation in East Timor.

The people of East Timor have endured two decades of criminal repression by the occupying forces, resulting in the death of more than 250,000 Timorese. The indifference of the international community has allowed this holocaust to take place.

Jakarta responds to our appeals for disarmament of the civilian militias with intensified campaigns of terror, intimidation and arbitrary killings. And as if the crimes committed by the militias were not bad enough, Indonesian soldiers are also confronting civilians in such a way that they are desperate to retaliate but are being forced to accept their death and destruction as the price demanded by the international community for their freedom.

I appeal to the international community to hold General Wiranto accountable for the violence and for the murders perpetrated by the Indonesian Armed Forces in East Timor. I find myself compelled to inform the international community that if strong and effective pressure is not brought to bear on Indonesia to immediately disarm the civilian militas, the people of East Timor are liable to lose their patience, and in the blood bath that would ensue, the only humanitarian assistance required will be help to bury our dead.

The situation outlined above compels me to call for an urgent UN presence in the territory to enforce Peace, and I urge the governments of the world and the United Nations to support the establishment of such a presence.

No diplomatic initiatives to bring Peace to East Timor can be effective if the cycle of violence is not broken, nor is a democratic and fair consultation process possible whilst Indonesian military-sponsored campaigns of terror and destabilisation continue.

Again and again we have stated our commitment to attainment of a solution through dialogue and accommodation of the views, experiences, fears and preoccupations of all. To this end we have appealed to our two esteemed Bishops to revive the reconciliation talks initiated in Dare late last year. It is our fervent hope and belief that one of the outcomes of the next round of reconciliation talks, scheduled for April 1999, will be a rejection on the part of all Timorese of violence and retaliation, both now and in the future, and a commitment to respecting the right of all citizens of East Timor to equal rights and opportunities.

In annex are the most recent reports of violations which we have compiled based on information reaching us from inside East Timor.

Salemba, 30 March 1999

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão
President of the CNRT

Back to April Menu
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu
June '98 through February '99