Subject: AFP: Dili gripped by terror of pro-Indon militias
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:54:27 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

East Timor capital gripped by the terror of the militias

DILI, East Timor, April 16 (AFP) - Armed pro-Indonesian militias are enforcing a reign of fear in the East Timorese capital Dili where terrified residents increasingly feel abandoned to their fate.

In the past 48 hours the militias, who oppose any attempt by the former Portuguese colony to break away from Indonesian rule, have distributed threatening leaflets aimed at intimidating independence activists.

The text calls on all houses in the city to fly the Indonesian flag. It demands that all local officials who do not favour the continued integration of East Timor with Indonesia be sacked and stripped of all benefits.

The leaflet also calls on the population to denounce anyone showing any sympathy for the independence movement so that the "current unfavourable situation can be rectified".

Other more threatening leaflets have also appeared.

One trumpets a military-style plan dubbed "Operation Total Clean-up" which carries a list of people to be beaten up and outlines a series of steps to be taken before mid-May to crush pro-independence sentiment.

It opens with the words "Greetings Red and White" -- a reference to the colour of the Indonesian flag and the name of the militia blamed for a massacre outside a church in the town of Liquisa last week.

Many prominent pro-independence figures in the city have received death threats from the militias, but have nonetheless refused to hide or flee Dili for the safety of the mountains.

"All we can do is put our trust in God," said one, echoing the grim mood here.

Leandro Issac, a senior official with the East Timor National Resistance Council, called on the international community and the United Nations to take urgent action to end the campaign of intimidation.

The militiamen, trained and supported by the Indonesian army, on Friday rehearsed for a major show of force set for Saturday.

Local authorities have abandoned all pretensions of neutrality which is the Jakarta government's official position in what it terms an "inter-Timorese conflict".

The parade was staged on the esplanade in front of the governor's palace and tents and chairs were provided for those invited.

A curfew comes into force at nightfall, with no one able to enjoy a stroll along a seafront bordered with giant mangroves.

The beach restaurants have disappeared. Even by day only half the stores or market stalls operate amid soaring prices.

The headquarters of the resistance council, opened less than three months ago in a residential area, have been shut for three days.

They opened amid a wave of optimism after President B.J. Habibie declared that Indonesia could offer East Timor independence if its people refuse autonomy within the country.

People should be asked to give their views and the process should be finished before the end of the year, he added. Now that timetable seems to be been totally overtaken by events.

"There have been more deaths here than in Kosovo," said Issac, who urged the international comunity to pile the pressure on Indonesia.

"At least the international community should have representatives here to witness what is happening," he added.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it a year later in a move not recognized by the United Nations. Some 200,000 East Timorese are estimated to have been killed by conflict and famine since then.

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