|Subject: ST: Timor villagers warned: Death if you
vote for independence
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:21:24 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Straits Times [Singapore] July 24 1999
Timor villagers warned: Death if you vote for independence
By MARIANNE KEARNEY IN DILI
ARMED militiamen in Maubisse, 70 km south of here, are patrolling the streets and threatening villagers with death if they vote for independence.
A local priest said militiamen in the coffee-growing mountains of the region, reportedly a stronghold of the pro-independence Falintil group, moved from house to house every night threatening to wipe out whole families if the villagers do not choose integration.
The priest said the 700-strong mostly-armed militia from the Mahidi or the Live or Die for Integration group, appeared to be backed by the local military.
He said Mahidi's third highest commander in Maubisse was also a member of the local army command, most of its members were locals and probably about half had been forced at gunpoint to join the militia.
Nine pro-independence supporters fled the area for the forest this week and at least two villagers fled to Dili following death threats the week before.
In violation of security agreements between the Indonesian police and the UN Mission in East Timor or Unamet, the priest said the police had not disarmed or arrested any of the militia routinely patrolling the streets, nor investigated any complaints about intimidation of residents.
He said the militia arrived in town yesterday morning and toured his parish buildings without any response from the police.
In this town where three people were killed by militia in April, the locals says it is hard to know whether people feel safe enough to choose freely in the referendum.
"It's difficult for people here to feel safe because there are two or three militia posts in every desa around here," said one local resident, referring to small villages.
However, enthusiasm for registration is still high -- in five days almost 1,000 people have arrived to receive identity cards from the local church.
The Unamet registration booth has had a long queue of people lining for hours everyday since it opened last Friday.