Subject: STT: Father Rafael on Liquica killings
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:39:27 -0400

Translation from Voice of East Timor (Suara Timor Timur), April 8, 1999 courtesy Sidney Jones, HRW/Asia

[Editor’s note: After receiving visits from Bishop Belo, the military commander of Korem 164, Col. Tono Suratman and the provincial police chief GM Timbul, the priest of Liquica parish, Rafael dos Santos, agreed to give a press conference. The conference took place at Bishop Belo’s residence in Licidere, East Dili as follows:]

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First, let me say that the two of us [Pastor Rafael dos Santos and Jose Daslan] were on the scene from Monday, April 5 to Tuesday, April 6. The pro-independence people from Liquica subdistrict did not want to be harassed by the the pro-integration people from subdistrict Maubara. It’s fine if the people of Maubara district want to be the base of Besi Merah Putih [BMP, the militia known as the Iron Rod for the Red-and-White] but just don’t try to mobilize in Liquica. Because the BMP moved on Liquica on Monday, April 5, the people of Liquica made an effort to prevent them. On Monday, the people of Liquica manned the border [with Maubara] armed with traditional weapons such as arrows, swords, and spears.

At that time, members of BMP appeared in the middle of the main road near the border linking the towns of Maubara and Liquica. But members of the Koramil [subdistrict military command] from Maubara also appeared from every direction on the main road. They were under the command of Asep Kuswanto, the commander of KODIM [district military command] 1638, Liquica. As a result [of their actions] six people were shot. Youths from Liquica town wanted resist with arrows and spears but from all sides gunfire rang out, hitting seven youths. At that time, the youths ran toward the town of Liquica. But all over the town, beginning at 13:00, the sounds of gunshots could be heard. It was the Liquica KODIM and the police command [polres] doing the shooting.

The shooting by police and soldiers went on for about one hour. People were terrified and ran into the church. After the shooting, the BMP entered Liquica, shouting as they did so. They all entered the compound of the Liquica KODIM. How was that possible? Who is behind them? I don’t know about other places, but I know for a fact that in Liquica it was the members of KODIM who were backing them.

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Yesterday, April 6, the person who took me from my house was a man with a pistol. We tried to make contact with the head (commander) of BMP, Manuel Sousa, as well as the bupati of Liquica Leoneto Martanis, and Eurico Gutteres as a middleman, but it didn’t work. Leoneto and Manuel Sousa are said to be still very emotional, so they don’t want to conduct a dialogue with me to look for a way out and help the thousands of people now staying around the church to go back to their homes. At the time, Brimob [the riot police] came and surrounded the church fence. They said they wanted to make things safe for the pastor or the people. I don’t know about this. But about 13:00, members of Besi Merah Putih wanted to attack the people who were in the parish houses around the church. At first, the police shot tear gas into the church. Then, they periodically fired shots in the air. Members of Brimob shot into the air while members of BMP shot at the people in the church. The shooting of Brimob into the air gave a chance for BMP to enter the church grounds, then BMP began to massacre the people with arrows and spears. The people hit by the tear gas ran outside with their eyes closed, then the BMP members hacked them. The name of this is murder. The aim of the BMP was to kill all the people in the area of the church, while those who had hidden on the upper floor of the parish house were shot by the army and Brimob while I was brought outside. Those who were hiding upstairs and in my bathroom were murdered. They were Kades Dato, Jacinto da Costa Conceicao Pereira, Agustinhu, Victor, Leovigildo (a junior high school student) and Lucio. Before this, Laurindo, head of the government fisheries office for Liquica, and Herminio were killed by members of the Maubara subdistrict command (Koramil) in their homes. The mastermind of these murders did not use Javanese soldiers but rather East Timorese native sons, members of the Maubara Koramil. Only certain soldiers were given arms and joined with the BMP to kill the people. I and Pastor Jose were also targeted for killing, but the traditional weapons of the BMP didn’t go off. ABRI claims that there were two firearms in the house. I told two policemen that Jacinto and his son were only carrying knives when they entered the church grounds. ABRI said the two guns were the reason that the BMP and the army killed all those people. The intention of the BMP in coming to Liquica was to kill all the leaders of the pro-independence movement in Liquica.

The people taking shelter in the church compound numbered more than 2,000. I saw myself that there were seven victims killed in the parish house. After the two of us were brought to the KODIM, the killing got even more brutal and sadistic. If the area commander Col. Tono is saying only five were killed, then what about the youths and old people killed in the parish house? The problem is we don’t know where the corpses are. I have no idea. At night I heard the sounds of a Hino vehicle in the church. We have to know where the bodies area. I came home from the KODIM about 19:00, but when I got home, the bodies weren’t there. All that was left was blood all over, including in my bedroom.

At the same time, about Rp.8 million belonging to the Liquica Catholic school that Pastor Jose was saving have disappeared. Money for alms was also looted. The BMP took the motorcycle belonging to Pastor Jose and several other cars and took them to Maubara. Church documents in a cupboard were also damaged and the contents of the house were destroyed. The military and the government must take responsibility for the killing and for the looting in Liquica church and in private homes in Liquica.

Three Eyewitnesses
An eyewitness, one of 18 [sic, see below] people hidden in the church at the time the massacre was taking place, told STT yesterday that around 18:45, they saw six Hino trucks taking bodies away from the church. The bodies were thrown on top of the trucks and taken to a destination that remains unknown. The witness, who was reluctant to give his name, added that the massacre was carried out by members of the BMP, army, regular police, and Brimob.

They shot and hacked at people as though they were killing animals. Even when people were raising their arms to surrender, they were still shot and hacked. We could only watch and weep from the church, he said. Je said that there were 16 witnesses hiding in the hruch, 8 women and 8 men. But about 1:00 Wendesday (April 7, 1999) 12 people left the church. Of the other 2,000, some went back home and others fled into the forest, especially the young people who were able to escape from the threat of being killed by the BMP and ABRI troops.

Priest’s house wrecked
From the observation of STT at the site of the incident, it appears that the house of Rafael dos Santos that is located only 15 meters from the Liquica church, was completely destroyed. The windows, the roof are shattered, while the contents of the house were destroyed or looted by the BMP. There was blood in the bathroom and bedroom. Liquica is in a state of paralysis. All along the main road of Tibar village up to the town of Liquica, you see the Indonesian flag [the Red-and-White] displayed. According to one villager, anyone who didn’t hang a flag ran the risk of being hacked to death by the army or BMP. Those against the Red-and-White were forced to flee to the forest or outside of Liquica.

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