rights group calls on Jakarta to disband E Timor militia
Indonesian rights group calls on Jakarta to disband East Timor militia
JAKARTA, Nov 1 (AFP) - An Indonesian rights body said Monday it had found evidence of organized human rights abuses by pro-Jakarta militia in West Timor, and urged Jakarta to protect the remaining 230,000 refugees East Timorese there.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said at a press conference here that approximately 21 militia groups in Indonesian-held West Timor had committed "systematic and organized human rights violations."
"Forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and violence against women have occured there. The freedom with which they can operate has created a deep and widespread fear among the refugees.
"Neglecting the militia operation shows a significant relationship between (Indonesia's) security forces and the militia," Komnas HAM said.
That relationship had "hampered the work of the commission team of inquiry and that of international human rights groups," said Albert Hasibuan, head of the inquiry team.
Hasibuan said the vicious Aitarak (Thorn) and Red and White Iron groups had been intimidating refugees in several camps in Kupang, the capital of West Timor.
Therefore, the government had to increase "security guarantees" for the refugees to return to East Timor and to put "an immediate stop to" and "disband the militia groups," said Hasibuan.
"Testimonies from witnesses revealed that militia have arrested, threatened and terrorized the refugees ... one militiamen supervises 10 to 15 people. The militia often threatened the refugees if they said they wanted to repatriate.
"Other witnesses have also reported that militiamen have kidnapped East Timorese girls from the camps -- and the lack of security have made these girls susceptible to sexual violence," Hasibuan added.
The United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) has been assisting refugees to return by land, sea and air to East Timor from West Timor, where more than a quarter of a million East Timorese were pushed or fled during the wave of militia violence that greeted the August 30 independence vote.
A total of 16,938 refugees had returned to East Timor under UNHCR auspices as of last Monday, 10,867 by air and 5,955 by boat.
An estimated 4,000 other people had returned unaccompanied on foot, and additional 116 crossed the border last Friday in trucks and on foot.
The UNHCR and other relief groups, as well as journalists, have reported terrified refugees telling them of disappearances, especially of young East Timorese men from the camps..
There have also been unconfirmed reports of killings by the militias of those wanting to return.
The refugees have said they feared the young men were being drafted into guerrilla style militia armies to fight United Nations troops in East Timor, with the threat that their families in the camps will be killed if they don't.
Subject: JP: Militias control refugee camps in West Timor: Report
Jakarta Post November 02, 1999
Militias control refugee camps in West Timor: Report
JAKARTA (JP): Armed prointegration militias are in control of a number of refugee camps on the western half of Timor island and operating under the eyes of the Indonesian Military, a national commission of inquiry on East Timor said in its preliminary report here on Monday.
The commission, which visited refugee camps in East Nusa Tenggara last week, quoted witnesses as saying refugees were being intimidated not to return to East Timor.
"Witnesses spoke of arbitrary detention, threats and terror against the refugees, and said each militia member was in charge of monitoring 10 to 15 refugees," commission member Asmara Nababan said at a media conference.
The three-page report said one or two members of refugee families sometimes were held hostage by the militias to prevent other family members from returning to East Timor.
It also said armed militias searched refugee camps and local churches for proindependence supporters, including university students.
"These militia operations were conducted openly. Security personnel were present but they let these things continue," commission member and leading rights activist Munir said.
He said more than 20 militias were seen operating in East Nusa Tenggara.
The report said the Aitarak, Red-and-White Iron and Do-or-Die Integration militias were present in Kupang, while the Sakunar and Laksaur militias were present in Kefamenanu and Atambua, respectively.
The report said at least two students were still missing following an ambush by the militias on a convoy of refugees in Kefamenanu regency in mid-October.
It also said witnesses described the abduction and sexual assault of East Timorese women in the refugee camps.
"We still cannot disclose how many people have allegedly been sexually assaulted, but the commission managed to speak to one of the victims to verify the reports," Munir said.
The commission report said that as of Oct. 29, some 220,000 East Timorese refugees were seeking shelter at camps in Kupang, Kefamenanu and Atambua Belu regencies.
Humanitarian workers said the presence of militias in the refugee camps hampered the repatriation of refugees to East Timor.
The commission, which was established in early October, is scheduled to complete its work by the end of the year.
Violence erupted in East Timor following the announcement of the results of the Aug. 30 self-determination referendum, which saw an overwhelming majority vote against wide-ranging autonomy under Indonesia.
Hundreds of people are feared to have been killed in the violence and some 250,000 East Timorese allegedly have been driven from their homes to East Nusa Tenggara.
Rights groups claim pro-Jakarta militias and elements of the Indonesian Military were involved in the violence.
The commission said earlier it would focus its investigation on alleged human rights abuses which took place in the wake of the historic ballot.
Meanwhile, Asmara said commission member Albert Hasibuan had replaced National Commission on Human Rights chairman Marzuki Darusman as the head of the commission of inquiry. Marzuki recently was appointed attorney general.
Commission members said if the team found evidence of rights abuses an ad hoc committee would be established to prosecute the perpetrators in a national human rights tribunal.
The commission concluded in its report that there had been systematic and organized human rights abuses -- in the form of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and violence against women -- by proindependence militias in East Nusa Tenggara. (byg)
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