Subject: AFP: (Analysis) Campaign to liquidate the resistance in E Timor
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 10:26:47 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

(Analysis) A campaign to liquidate the resistance in East Timor

DILI, East Timor, April 19 (AFP) - A campaign of systematic liquidation of the resistance is under way in East Timor, forcing thousands of people to flee into the jungles of the former Portuguese colony.

The campaign is playing havoc with agriculture and destroying what is left of the territory's fragile social fabric after 24 years of resistance to the Indonesian occupation, observers say.

The operations are backed by at least a section of the Indonesian armed forces and intelligence service, notably the elite "Kopassus" special forces, discredited for the role some of its members played in killings during unrest last May in Jakarta.

Several pro-Indonesian militia chiefs boast of their ties with the elite unit, which was headed by ousted leader Suharto's son-in-law General Prabowo Subianto before he was discarged from the army.

Contrary to what some believe, the main aim of the campaign, according to an East Timor analyst, is not to disrupt talks between Indonesia and Portugal at the United Nations scheduled to resume Wednesday, but to skew a planned vote on autonomy or independence for the territory.

According to the analyst, who asked not to be named, the "total cleansing" campaign publicly announced by pro-Indonesian leaders is meant to ensure that autonomy rather than separation is chosen in the vote.

If the New York negotiations are successful the referendum will take place shortly.

All sides agree that those seeking autonomy under Indonesian rule are far outnumbered by the pro-independence majority. But this does not bother Basilio Araujo, an intellectual in East Timor's pro-Indonesian movement.

"Actually 10 percent of the population are politically aware, 90 percent are just peasants or fishermen and they do not want to think politics," he told reporters here.

Asked how his people could identify separatists, his reply was simple.

"During the reformasi period (following Suharto's fall last May), they made it clear what they were thinking. Now we have lists."

According to speeches delivered by miltia chiefs, civil servants are among the targets: all those not in favor of rule by Jakarta must resign and have their benefits cut off.

In recent days the militia have begun confiscating the cars of civil servants seen as unsympathetic, but their fate has not been as grave as those who have lost their lives in violence since the Indonesian government made its surprise offer of autonomy or independence in January.

In the countryside, village chiefs in favor of independence are being systematically liquidated, and even villages considered not enthusiastic enough for autonomy are being destroyed, say military specialists here.

The operations in the countryside began even before the government's autonomy offer. Attacks in December in the Alas region triggered the exodus of some 6,000 refugees.

The assaults gathered pace after the offer along the length of the border region with Indonesian West Timor, notably in the towns of Maliana, Balibo and Maubara.

Hundreds of refugees fled to the mountains, where they are scratching a tenuous existence in remote places where it is hard to provide humanitarian aid.

The bloody attack this month on a churchyard packed with refugees in Liquisa, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the capital Dili, marked the start of a new phase.

Leandro Issac, the political coordinator for the pro-independence Timorese National Resistance Council, described it as "the conquest of urban centers" after the attacks on rural areas.

The cleansing of Dili, to use the militia expression, started on Saturday.

Bacau, East Timor's second largest city, is next on the list.

"Less and less space is left to the resistance," said a western expert. "They have just the mountains left, and that is not the way to win elections."

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