Subject: SMH: Military takes blood oaths for Jakarta
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:33:51 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald [and The Age] 31/05/99


Military takes blood oaths for Jakarta Unregistered voters 'harassed'

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Dili

Pro-Jakarta militia groups are harassing and sometimes kidnapping East Timorese who have not registered to vote in Indonesia's national elections next week, aid workers and a pro-independence leaders said yesterday. They said the groups, accused of killing up to 100 people in recent months, were treating everyone not registered for the elections as being opposed to East Timor remaining part of Indonesia.

A United Nations-supervised ballot on East Timorese autonomy is due to be held in August. Aid workers have been told militiamen plan a sweep of homes in Dili this week, looking for people without registration cards for the election next Monday, which the Indonesian Government has promised will be free and fair.

The militia campaign coincides with an increasing number of pro-Jakarta rallies being held in villages outside Dili, at which people drink a mixture of blood and alcohol in front of Indonesian police and military officers to swear allegiance to Indonesia's red and white flag.

Under centuries-old Timorese tradition, a blood oath can never be broken.

The Herald attended one the ceremonies at the weekend, witnessing the violation of the terms of a UN agreement signed by Indonesia, including the use of government facilities for campaigning ahead of the August autonomy ballot.

A pro-independence leader, Mr Leandro Isaac, who is under armed guard in Dili after leaving a police compound where he had sheltered for three weeks, said pro-Jakarta militiamen "are investigating everyone to see if they registered" for the elections.

"People not registered are considered anti-integration," he said. "Often people are taken away and indoctrinated to be pro-integration."

Only 43 per cent of voters eligible for the national poll have registered in East Timor, the lowest number in any of Indonesia's proclaimed provinces.

Church officials say privately that most East Timorese are refusing to register because they do not consider the territory, which Indonesia invaded in 1975, to be legitimately part of Indonesia.

The leaders of three pro-Jakarta militia groups accused of going on killing rampages in Dili and the coastal town of Liquica in recent weeks are among candidates put forward by the ruling Golkar party for the East Timor provincial parliament, the vote for which is being held at the same time as the national poll.

Asked about them standing for election, Mr Isaac said: "That's Golkar's problem - they have only become known since guns were put in their hands."

Under the UN agreement signed in New York in May, campaigning for the August ballot to decide East Timor's future is banned until late July, when all of the UN personnel, including almost 300 civilian police, will have arrived.

But on Saturday military and Jakarta-appointed officials warned villagers at Cotolau, 12 kilometres south of Dili, to vote to keep the territory part of Indonesia or face a civil war during which many of them would be killed.

Major Suprapto Tarman, the head of the district, told about 200 villagers who attended the blood-swearing ceremony that nobody would be able to protect them if people voted for independence.

A small group of about 40 UN officials in Dili, the first of a 600-strong contingent, have complained about pro-Jakarta banners and Indonesian flags being raised in the town and rural villages.

But groups opposed to the territory breaking away refuse to remove them.

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