Subject: SMH: A bloody road to independence in E. Timor
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:39:51 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

Sydney Morning Herald 07/04/99

A bloody road to independence

By Lindsay Murdoch

Dili: Not many people in Dili had by last night heard of Xanana Gusmao's call to arms in faraway Jakarta.

But the bloodshed predicted by the former guerilla leader under house arrest had already begun.

Mansyur Syah, an Indonesian-educated Muslim Timorese, huddled in fear of his life in the corner of a bare room in a two-storey bungalow on the outskirts of the former Portuguese colony's capital.

Blood was streaming down his face, swollen and blackened from beatings. Gusmao's supporters, some of them former guerillas of the anti-Indonesian Fretlin, were shoving him and accusing him of being a member of a shadowy Indonesian military-backed force.

The men showed money they claim Mr Syah had been given to pay agitators to stir up trouble in Dili and a knife tied with red and white ribbons, the colours of Indonesia's flag.

Gusmao's men were angry. They promised to let Syah go free after interrogation but the look on the man's face showed he didn't believe them.

Overnight, their dreams of a peaceful move to independence have been shattered. Gusmao, their supreme commander, has called on them to launch a popular insurrection. Nobody was challenging him because terrible things were happening again in East Timor.

Paulina De Jesus, a 22-year-old mother of three, went to her mother's grave in a cemetery near the village of Liquica, 40 kilometres west of Dili on Monday morning, carrying her three-month-old son.

The paid thugs of an Indonesian militia group called Red and White Iron suddenly appeared in the centre of her village of 400 people. Most of the intruders carried crude weapons like swords and clubs, but according to witnesses others had high-powered weapons supplied by the Indonesian armed forces. The thugs started attacking everyone in sight, witnesses say.

Mrs De Jesus ran for her life clutching her baby. She was separated from her husband, Augusto and was too slow and fell or was pushed to the ground. Members of the militia started slashing her back with a sword as she crouched over her baby, desperate to protect him.

American volunteer doctor Dan Murphy said Mrs De Jesus fainted from lack of blood when Catholic nuns brought her to the crudely equipped clinic in Dili where he treats victims of attacks outside the capital almost daily.

Dr Murphy, the only foreign doctor working in East Timor, said it took two hours to sew up Mrs De Jesus's five deep gashes along the length of her back.

"They just hacked her to threads," he said. "It makes you wonder who would attack a mother and a small baby ... do they feel that strongly about pro integration?"

There are other horror stories in his clinic every day. "Where do I start?" Dr Murphy said. "The other day an 11-year-old girl saw her brother executed at point-blank range."

The official death toll from the militia's attack on Monday at Liquica is four, but Gusmao's supporters in Dili say up to 20 people were slaughtered.

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