|Subject: SMH: Photos reveal violent history
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 11:40:11 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald 26/05/99
EAST TIMOR Photos reveal violent history
By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili
Ilidio Gusmao's photograph album is not your normal fare of happy snaps. Mr Gusmao is chairman of the Baucau branch of the Catholic Peace and Justice Commission.
The identity of one man in his album is proving particularly problematic - the man in question has no face. Under torture his face was physically removed before his agonising death in March this year. He is thought to be a pro-independence supporter but the identity of his interrogators is unknown.
Case Two. On May 19, four men believed to be members of the elite Kopassus special forces unit entered a house in Baucau and began beating a man later identified as Sergeant Louis Da Costa, formerly of Battalion 745.
His wife ran to get help but not before her husband was dragged outside and fatally shot with a semi-automatic pistol, execution-style to the back of the neck. Da Costa may have been linked to an earlier violent incident involving members of his old battalion who engaged in a shootout with Kopassus soldiers in Baucau on May 13.
Inter-service rivalry and allegations of mistreatment by a Kopassus informer who tried to order a group of Battalion 745 soldiers off the roof of a minibus are believed to have triggered that incident.
Violence, whether politically inspired or simply criminal, is commonplace in East Timor - arguably one of the most lawless territories in South-East Asia.
While pro-Indonesia militia violence has been increasing in recent months, two pro-Indonesia paramilitary groups in Baucau have successfully prevented incursions by the hardline Dili-based Aitarak (Thorn) militia, according to Mr Gusmao.
Tim-Serah, which comprised former pro-independence defectors, and Tim-Saka, which worked closely with Kopassus special forces, had physically intervened to prevent Aitarak militia activity, forcing Aitarak leader Mr Eurico Guterres to travel by army helicopter on visits to nearby Viqueque district.
Both groups trace their roots back to two 1970s political parties, the pro-Indonesia Apodeti and Timorese Democratic Union (UDT).
Apparently Mr Guterres' creed of radical firebrand politics is not welcomed by more moderate autonomy supporters in Baucau, said Mr Gusmao.
One respected Dili-based human rights group, Yayasan Hak, estimates more than 100 people, mostly pro-independence supporters have been killed in political violence since January.
"The human rights situation is not satisfactory because it seems to be an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Who causes it and why does not count, it just exists," said Mr Soli Sorabjee, a UN Commission for Human Rights envoy and former Indian attorney-general who arrived at the weekend.
An Indonesian initiative for a Commission for Peace and Stability comprising pro-independence and pro-autonomy supporters, government officials, police and army officers, has failed to get up and running.
The reason - there are no pro-independence supporters confident enough to come out of hiding. So violence and killings continue. On Tuesday the Voice of East Timor newspaper reported the discovery of a headless and legless body of a police sergeant at a beach near Liquica, 30 kilometres west of Dili.
Police identified the man as Second Sergeant Alberto Oliveira. He had been returning to Liquica by motorbike accompanied by his 13-year-old nephew who remains missing.
Pro-independence fighters have been blamed for the assassination of a 65-year-old coffee farmer and staunch pro-autonomy activist, Mr Boaventura Dos Santos, killed on Monday.
At midday yesterday, mourners gathered in the Dos Santos house, a small concrete cottage with a rust-streaked corrugated iron roof.
Inside the dark, unlit room women in black cried and children stared in silence. A large wooden crucifix lay next to the bedside table. Outside the house the silence was suddenly broken with the arrival of five schoolgirl mourners chatting, innocently unaware of the solemnity of the occasion. They were carrying sprigs of purple bougainvillea.