|Subject: KY: E. Timor militiaman says he has been
told to make guns
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 09:35:14 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
E. Timor militiaman says he has been told to make guns
07/17/1999 Japan Economic Newswire Kyodo News
By Sugianto Tandra
BALIBO, East Timor , July 17 --
A leader of a pro-Indonesia East Timor militia unit said Saturday he has been ordered to make guns in case East Timorese reject autonomy within Indonesia in a late-August U.N.-sponsored referendum.
The 33-year-old was among some 6,000 people attending a pro-Indonesia rally in Balibo, a hotbed of Indonesian support about 80 kilometers southwest of the East Timor capital Dili, to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the territory's annexation by Jakarta.
Organizers said the residents arrived for the celebrations voluntarily, but the unit leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said members of gangs of local militias had threatened many of his fellow villagers with punishment if they did not attend.
And he said he knew that firsthand because he is a militia company commander in his own village about 10 km from Balibo.
"If I didn't do what I do, I'd be punished," he told Kyodo News after attending the ceremony.
"I was forced to join the militia, although I resisted until (other militia men) almost killed me and burned my house.
"But what concerns me most now is that we are told to make guns, to get ready for a war should autonomy be defeated. My friends and I in my company, however, have determined that we would just as well flee to Dili after the poll," he said.
Militia leaders have told them to prepare weapons, he said.
The company leader, who claimed to have 270 men under his command, said members of an Indonesian army unit led by a second sergeant in his area have forced them to commit violence.
Money for making guns, he added, is being generated through gambling dens organized by militia members.
"I have reported this all to UNAMET (the U.N. Mission in East Timor)," the man added.
While not commenting on the man's allegation, UNAMET has already expressed concern that the referendum scheduled for either Aug. 21 or 22, in which voters will choose between independence or autonomy underIndonesia, could be marred or delayed by violence.
The beginning of voter registration was delayed until last Friday for fear of violence and the referendum itself has been put back from early August because of security concerns.
Balibo is "historic" because the "Balibo Declaration" calling for integration with Indonesia is believed to have been signed there Nov. 30, 1975, an act that led to Indonesia invading the former Portuguese colony in December of the same year and annexing it a year later.