|Subject: FORTILOS: PRESS RELEASE ON THE LIQUICA
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:44:34 -0400
MASSACRE IN LIQUICA, EAST TIMOR
The crisis in Liquica, beginning April 3, 1999, has shown no sign of abating. FORTILOS which consists of human rights organizations: ELSAM (Institute for Policy Studies and Advocacy), LBH Jakarta (Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation), PBHI (Association of Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights), ISJ (Jakarta Social Institute), Bindik PGI (Counseling and Education division of the Indonesian Council of Churches), JK-LPK (Network of Christian Service), POKASTIM (Working Group for the Welfare and Education of the East Timorese), Justice and Peace Secretariat of Indonesian Catholic Churches Commission, LPPS (Institute for Social Research and Development), JKB (Collective Cultural Network), and a number of individuals wish to state the following:
The crisis in Liquiça is not the result of an attack by the pro-independence group on the pro-integration/autonomy group. The crisis began when a number of Besi Merah Putih (BMP) members vandalized the house of Felisberto dos Santos (Treasurer of the Husbandry Office of Liquica) in the village of Dato around 4:00 PM on April 4, 1999. The local inhabitants challenged the BMP members, and these vandals fled and hid in the Koramil headquarters.
The next day the BMP members returned to the village, this time accompanied by a number of Indonesian army soldiers and special police (Brimob -- Mobil Brigade). In this attack the Indonesian troops shot randomly at the civilians. Three people died, eight people were injured, and ten houses were destroyed and burned down. The villagers immediately took refuge in the Liquica church. The next day the BMP gang under the leadership of Eurico Guterres, along with a number of Indonesian soldiers, surrounded the church. They forcibly dragged Fr. Rafael dos Santos and Fr. Yoseph Daslan out of the church compound and took them to the local Kodim headquarters. Once the priests were removed, the paramilitary and the Indonesian troops began to throw tear gas inside the church. When the refugees ran out, blinded, trying to save themselves, the BMP militia entered the church and began attacking the panicked civilians by throwing stones and shooting. Women and children were beaten with fists, sticks, rifle butts, shot with arrows, and hacked with machetes. Fifty-two people died and seven were injured during this brutal attack. Afterwards, the militia forced the local people to hoist Indonesian red and white flags. Moreover, the members of BMP, Aitarak and Halilintar gangs along with the ABRI troops pursued the Liquica youth who managed to run away from the village.
The massacre in Liquiça cannot be separated from the chain of terror committed by the militia groups in East Timor after President B.J. Habibie offered the "wide ranging autonomy" to East Timor. The militias, armed with automatic weapons suspected to be supplied by ABRI, commit all forms of violent acts, such as coercing people to become members of the militia, maltreating civilians, burning houses, raping women and killing. Their leaders state that the militia exist to defend East Timor's integration to Indonesia. They threaten that if the pro-independence group wins the UN-supervised ballot they will declare a war.
As part of the Indonesian nation which upholds the Preamble of the Constitution 1945 and the principles of Human Rights, Fortilos:
(1) condemns the killing and maltreatment committed by the militia groups which declare that they support integration of East Timor with Indonesia;
(2) rejects the attempt to maintain integration conducted by groups which legitimize destruction, maltreatment and murder as a means to achieve their political goals;
(3) urges the Indonesian government to immediately withdraw all ABRI troops who are still in East Timor so that there will be a conditions which make it possible to conduct a peaceful resolution to the East Timor problem in accordance with the norms of the international community;
(4) urges the Indonesian government to disband and disarm the militia groups in East Timor without exception in order to secure the peace process for the East Timor problem in accordance with the norms of the international community.
Jakarta, 9 April 1999
Ita Fatia Nadia Lefidus Malau
Head of Daily Caretaker Executive Secretary
"No Democracy in Indonesia without Freedom in East Timor
Solidarity Forum for the People of East Timor (FORTILOS) Jl. Siaga II No.31, Pejaten Barat, Jakarta 12510 Telp. (021)79192763 Fax. (021)79192519 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org