Subject: ETO: Assessment of compliance with the 5 May Agreement - 5/22 May
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:45:32 -0400
From: Comissão para os Direitos do Povo Maubere <>

East Timor Observatory / Observatório Timor Leste / Observatoire Timor-Oriental

All peoples have the right to self-determination... all armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence. (Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples - UN Gen.Ass. Resolution 1514, 14/12/1960)

Ref.: SE02–1999/05/29eng

Subject : Assessment of compliance with the 5 May Agreement From 5 to 22 May 1999

Note: The 5 May 1999 Agreement does not mean that legality has been restored, but rather that just one step has been taken in the process to restore legality. It is surprising that, under the terms of the Agreement, the invader has been entrusted with responsibility for maintaining law and order during the run-up to the popular consultation. The only possible explanation for this paradoxical side to the Agreement is that Indonesia has bluntly refused give in on this point, and Portugal and the United Nations (UN) must have concluded that it was better to have an agreement without an international military force than to have no agreement at all. Indonesia’s obstinacy also highlights the lack of international determination. The international community is said to be willing to contribute to the resolution of the problem in East Timor but, above all, it is concerned with developments in Indonesia, the country with the world’s fourth largest population.

The 5 May 1999 Agreement: Portugal, East Timor’s "de jure" administering power, and Indonesia, the territory’s "de facto" administering power since the 1975 invasion, requested the UN SG to organise and conduct a consultation in East Timor to determine what political status the East Timorese people themselves want for the territory (self-determination). The UN Secretary General (SG), with the agreement of the two State parties, was explicit about the essential preconditions for the consultation: "through a direct, secret and universal ballot … in an atmosphere free of intimidation, violence or interference from any side" (5 May 1999 Agreement). The procedures and provisional schedule for the consultation proposed by the SG were consigned to an Appendix to the Agreement. However, in view of the violence that had escalated in the territory ever since Jakarta gave signs that it would accept a negotiated settlement, the security issue has become the main focus of attention. In addition to the references to security already contained in the Agreement and Appendix I, it was felt there was a need for a further Appendix to deal exclusively with security matters. This Appendix too was signed by the three parties (UN, Indonesia and Portugal). The SG went further, and included a Memorandum in which he pinpointed "the main elements that will need to be in place" for the consultation to proceed. The terms of the Memorandum were also agreed to by Indonesia. (Texts of the Agreement, Appendices and Memorandum are available in English at

The Appendix on Security contains four points: 1. A secure environment devoid of violence and intimidation is a prerequisite for the holding of a free and fair ballot. Law and order must be maintained, and the "absolute neutrality" of Indonesia’s Armed forces and Police is essential. 2. The Commission on Peace and Stability established on 21 April 1999 (composed of representatives from the pro-independence and pro-integration sides, local authorities, local police commands, and armed forces) should become operational without delay and, in co-operation with the UN, elaborate a code of conduct, by which all parties should abide, ensure the laying down of arms, and take the necessary steps to achieve disarmament. 3. Prior to the start of registration, the SG shall ascertain that the necessary security situation exists for the peaceful implementation of the consultation process. 4. The SG will make available a number of UN police officers to act as advisers to the Indonesian Police in the discharge of their duties.

The 8-point Memorandum by the SG appears to be the best tool with which to assess compliance with the Agreement on security matters. Below, each numbered point taken from the Memorandum is followed by extracts taken from the SG’s first report to the Security Council (S/1999/595) and other relevant information.

1. "as an urgent first step, the bringing of armed civilian groups under strict control and discipline";

1.1. "I regret to inform the Security Council that credible reports continue to be received of political violence, including intimidation and killings, by armed militias against unarmed pro-independence civilians. I am deeply concerned to learn from the (UN) assessment team that, as a result, the situation in East Timor remains extremely tense and volatile. While the team was in Dili, several shootings occurred on the outskirts of the city, the house of the head of a local human rights organisation was vandalised, and a clash took place between pro-integration and pro-independence militias, resulting in the deaths of at least three people." … "the militias" … "have not only in recent weeks begun to attack pro-independence groups, but are beginning to threaten moderate pro-integration supporters as well. Truckloads of pro-integration militia are able to roam about freely in the towns and to set up checkpoints along the roads without any intervention from the army or the police" (UN SG Report to the Security Council, 22 May 1999, S/1999/595) 1.2. In the attack in Dili, referred to by the SG as a clash between pro- and anti- independence militias, all the victims were pro-independence (news agencies, newspapers, etc.) 1.3. Given that roadblocks set up by pro-integration militias have prevented reporters and members of the UN team from freely travelling around the territory, confirmation of violations reported outside Dili is difficult to obtain. Most of them occur in the area by the border with Indonesia, which is dominated by the pro-Indonesia militias. UNAMET (UN Assistance Mission in East Timor) spokesman, David Wimhurst, condemned one such attack that led to the death of at least six people: "the excess of Atara is the latest example" (UNAMET, 17.5.99). 1.4. The SG’s report refers to threats and violations perpetrated against the head of a human rights organisation, but other humanitarian organisations, such as Caritas in Dili, and foreign physicians working in the Motael Clinic in Dili, have also been threatened. (AFP, 10.5.99) 1.5. The SG makes no reference to the refugees who have had to flee their villages to escape attacks from pro-Indonesia militias, and who have been herded into camps. The first pictures of the refugee camps were taken by foreign reporters accompanying a group of pro-integration militias (the only way to get through the militia roadblocks). The reporters discovered the camps, guarded by militiamen, Indonesian police and soldiers, in which the refugees are forced to attend a daily Indonesian flag-hoisting ceremony and to sing the Indonesian national anthem. A US doctor working in Dili described these places as "concentration camps". An Indonesian organisation, the "National Commission Against Violence Against Women", which visited some camps between 1 and 9 May, estimated the number of refugees as 35,000, of which 98% were women and children (Indonesian Observer, 18.5.99). The whereabouts of all the men are unknown. 1.6 Neither does the SG’s report mention the army’s operations. Timorese guerrilla sources say that six Indonesian battalions are operating in the Ermera-Hatolia area, trying to capture 200 guerrillas and Ular, their commander (John Martinkus, The Australian, 19.5.99). The Indonesian army stated it had lost three men and two weapons in a guerrilla ambush (Lusa, 18.5.99). As the militias and army refuse access to these areas, it is not possible to obtain confirmation of these reports. 1.7 Soli Sorabjee, representative in Indonesia and East Timor of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated during a visit to Dili: "all reports I receive are not very encouraging" and said he was "concerned" about the statements made by pro-integration groups: "these statements are highly provocative, almost threatening the people who vote in favour of independence that they will suffer consequences" (Australian quoted by Publico, 23.5.99). 2 "An immediate ban on all rallies by armed groups while ensuring the freedom of all political groups and tendencies, including both pro-integration elements and also the CNRT and other pro-independence forces, to organise and conduct peaceful political activities."

2.1 "Most of the pro-independence leaders have fled from Dili or gone into hiding. Only one leader from the Timor National Resistance Council, Leandro Isaac, who had taken refuge at the police headquarters in Dili, was available to meet some members of the team during their stay in East Timor." (S/1999/595) 2.2 Pro-Indonesian forces continued to organise rallies in which they announced the support for the autonomy package by (pro-independence) CNRT leaders and members. Foreign reporters present in Dili were invited to attend these rallies in which thousands of people, brought in by the truckload from neighbouring villages, took part. For the journalists, these invitations were practically their only opportunity to travel outside the capital. All those attending in the rallies wore red and white headbands or carried red and white flags, but some whispered to the reporters that they had been forced to do so (AP, 8.5.99). Militiamen are also present at the rallies carrying their weapons (AFP, 8.5.99) 2.3 After a long interval, due to the presence of militias in the capital, students from the University of Dili once again staged demonstrations. The demonstrations were peaceful, although some trucks carrying armed militiamen had passed by very closely. On the third day, Indonesian police forced the students back into the University, claiming that they were obstructing the traffic (AFP, 6.5.99). On 10 May, militias, that had been circling the area, fired their weapons at the University’s walls, even though there was no one inside (AFP, 10.5.99) 2.4 At the time of the SG’s report, in addition to Leandro Isaac who had taken refuge in a police station, all the leading members of the Dili CNRT had been forced either into hiding or had fled: David Ximenes, hiding in Dili; Manuel Carrascalao, sought safety in Jakarta; Mario Carrascalao, exiled. The house of Duarte Viana was set ablaze on 8 May. In other districts, CNRT leaders were killed, others fled to the mountains, while others were forced into declaring that they supported integration. 3. "The prompt arrest and prosecution of those who incite or threaten to use violence against others. In this connection, it has been noted with concern that public threats have already been issued to the UN by certain individuals." 3.1 "Despite repeated assurances that measures would be taken by the Indonesian authorities to ensure security in East Timor and curtail the illegal activities of the armed militias, I regret… (S/1999/595) 3.2 Even though Eurico Guterres, leader of the Aitarak militia, openly admitted responsibility for the killings in Dili that were referred to by the SG, and stated: "if we open fire it is because we have been attacked", he is still free, and even has the support of senior Indonesian military officials: when wanted to go to Viqueque but was unable to get past Baucau, which is controlled by rival pro-Indonesian paramilitaries groups, Eurico Guterres was transported in a military helicopter (Sydney Morning Herald, 26.5.99) 3.3 Even some pro-Indonesian leaders are beginning to feel embarrassed by Eurico Guterres, and fear that they could justify a stronger UN presence. Francisco Lopes da Cruz, former adviser to Suharto, called for the imprisonment of Eurico Guterres (Publico, 13.5.99) 3.4 "If, under Indonesian law, anyone going around with a weapon is breaking the law, I do not see any problem in arresting those who are breaking the law, even in front of the police and the military" said Soli Sorabjee (Publico, 23.5.99).

4. "Assumption by the Indonesian Police of sole responsibility for he maintenance of law and order" (Memorandum), "absolute neutrality" (appendix on security, p.1)

4.1 "Truckloads of pro-integration militia are able to roam about freely in the towns and to set up checkpoints along the roads without any intervention from the army or the police" (S/1999/595) 4.2 As well as setting up roadblocks, militias carry out arrests. The fact that people who have been taken off by militias have ended up in police jails or posts, is evidence that the armed militias are in connivance with the Police. Further proof of police acquiescence to the militias is that they jointly guard the camps in which the displaced people are now kept against their will. 4.3 While on his way to gather information about the Atara massacre, UNAMET’s spokesman witnessed civilians receiving military training at an Indonesian Armed Forces camp in Atsabe (CNN, 20.5.99) 4.4 Police Commander, General Rusmanhadi, announced the sending of Indonesian Police officers who had previously taken part in UN missions in Namibia and Cambodia (Lusa, Jakarta, 20.5.99).

5. "Redeployment of Indonesian Armed Forces" - and their "absolute neutrality"

5.1 "… there are indications that the militias, believed by many observers to be operating with the acquiescence of elements of the army…(S/1999/595) 5.2 A detailed description, elaborated by the Yayasan Hak human rights organisation, of the militia attack in Dili on 10 May, confirms that there was close collaboration between the militias and Indonesian Police and Armed Forces. On the day of the attack, Police and soldiers escorted the militias from the time they left the Hotel Tropikal where they were staying. According to the report, at first, Police Mobile Brigade vehicles drove at the head of the militia convoy. Later on, the Police inverted the order, and escorted the militias from behind. Meanwhile, soldiers blocked the side streets leading on to the roads being used that day by the militias. (HAK Report, 13.5.99). 5.3 Official statements clearly illustrate the different treatment being given to pro-integration and pro-independence: Col. Suratman, Military Commander of East Timor, complained of the coverage given by foreign journalists to the pro-independence students’ demonstration in front of the University: "The foreign reporters must not be used to serve the interests of a few, and to sacrifice the majority of thousands of Timorese" (Antara, 6.5.99). 5.4 Col. Suratman criticised the statements made by UN Spokesman David Wimhurst, concerning the killing of civilians by militias in Atara, and the burning down of 10 houses in Dili: "any public statement by the UN spokesman should first be clarified with the head of security forces in Dili, to avoid misunderstandings" (Kompas and Antara, 18.5.99, Sydney Morning Herald, 25.5.99). 5.5 General Wiranto condemned David Wimhurst’s statements regarding the training of militias by Indonesian military: "they (the UN) can only make suggestions to the Indonesian Police, because responsibility for peace and order during the ballot is in the hands of the Indonesian security personnel" (Jakarta Post, quoted by AFP, 20.5.99) 5.6 The Timorese population feels that the military "are still favouring pro-integration groups and supporting just one viewpoint", said Soli Sorabjee (Publico, 23.5.99).

6. "Free access to the mass media for the United Nations as well as both sides of the political divide in East Timor" (S/1999/595)

6.1 The representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed surprise at the different way in which pro-independence and pro-integration sides were being treated on the streets of Dili: it is "strange" that there are posters and billboards in favour of autonomy in various parts of Dili, but not one in support of independence, said Soli Sorabjee (Publico, 23.5.99)

7. "Full participation of the UN in the Commission on Peace and Stability, which should provide a forum for all parties to address and resolve effectively issues relating to compliance with the Agreement during the consultative process and for resolving disputes and frictions on the ground"

7.1 "The Commission on Peace and Stability, established on 21 April has yet to become operational, despite the call in the Agreements of 5 May for it to become operational without delay. This is largely attributable to the inability of the pro-independence representatives to participate freely owing to the physical threats posed by the armed militias." (S/1999/595)

8. "The immediate institution of a process of laying down of arms by all armed groups, to be completed well in advance of the holding of the ballot."

8.1 The UN SG just refers to the need for disarmament in the Conclusions and Recommendations of his Report, but without any detail or explanation as to how this should be undertaken. 8.2 The surrender of weapons by pro-Indonesian militias is most urgent because it is mainly these weapons that are now the causing of the killings in East Timor, and is a matter of respect for "law and order", committed to the police in the terms contained in points 1 to 4. Some old weapons have handed over to the military by the militias, namely in Liquica (AFP, 8.5.99), but without being overseen by UN specialists, the surrender of weapons is meaningless. 8.3 The surrender of weapons by combatant forces is more complicated process. One step in this direction was taken after the fall of President Suharto in May 1998, when a non-declared cease-fire came into effect that was respected by both the Falintil and Indonesian regular forces. 8.4 The next step, "disarmament" of the Falintil, is directly linked to "redeployment", or the ‘withdrawal’ of Indonesian Armed Forces. Both of these processes should take place simultaneously because these are the two forces that have been in confrontation since 1975.


"The Agreements of 5 May constitute an historic opportunity to resolve the question of East Timor." Its implementation depends on "three essential conditions": "first, it must at all times have the full confidence and backing of the Security Council. Secondly, it must function with the full co-operation of the Indonesian authorities. Thirdly, it must have the resources necessary to carry out its tasks." (S/1999/595).

Observatory for the monitoring of East Timor’s transition process a programme by the ‘Comissão para os Direitos do Povo Maubere’ and the ecumenical group ‘A Paz é Possível em Timor Leste’ Coordinator: Cristina Cruz

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