Subject: SMH: Indonesian forces plotted Timor destruction

Sydney Morning Herald April 20, 2001

UN lays blame for Timor wave of terror

Photo: Boys play in the ruins of the polytechnic in Hatolea, east of Dili. Almost every building in East Timor was torched after the independence vote. Photo: Jason South

By Lindsay Murdoch, Herald Correspondent in Dili

A United Nations investigation has found that senior Indonesian military officers planned mass destruction, deportations and killings in East Timor two months before a 1999 vote on the territory's future.

The investigation by a former Australian diplomat, Mr James Dunn, identifies a group of still-serving officers who secretly planned and supervised a campaign of violence to counter a surge of support for independence and then to punish East Timorese for rejecting Indonesia's rule.

* Indonesian officers began planning to destroy E Timor two months before the independence vote 
* 250,000 E Timorese were deported to Indonesian W Timor 
* More than 70 per cent of buildings were damaged or destroyed

The operation was code-named Wiradharma and was commanded from July 1999 by officers of elite Kopassus units, the investigation found.

Mr Dunn's explosive 60-page report on his five-month investigation is still secret and presents the UN with a test of its willingness to push for those responsible for the bloody events in East Timor at the time of the independence vote to be brought to justice.

The report's account of the detailed planning by military leaders before the independence vote also poses a challenge to denials by the Australian Government that it had any forewarning of the violence and intimidation that followed the vote. Given the high level at which the operation was planned, the lack of knowledge by the Australian Government suggests either a massive failure in intelligence gathering or in the processing of intelligence material.

The Dunn report names two army officers as playing key roles: Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim and the former Bali-based commander of East Timor, Major-General Adam Damiri.

"According to informed sources in Jakarta, it was planned to deport most of East Timor's population to West Timor, from where they would later be dispersed to other parts of the archipelago," it says.

"The planners seemed to believe that the violence would persuade the MPR [Indonesia's top legislature] to reject the outcome of the ballot.

"The operation began in the immediate aftermath of the announcing of the results of the plebiscite and was focused on the deportation of a large part of the population of East Timor, the destruction of most houses and buildings and on a campaign of terror against the staff of the UN, foreign journalists and other foreigners present in East Timor at the time."

The report urges the UN to step up its efforts to bring those responsible to justice.

It names the former armed forces chief, General Wiranto, who has so far eluded prosecution in Jakarta. Mr Dunn says it is inconceivable that General Wiranto, as head of the armed forces, was unaware of a massive campaign conducted by his subordinates that needed a large amount of military resources.

"No military commander can shirk responsibility for the behaviour of men under his command," he says.

Mr Dunn says the ultimate responsibility for what he calls crimes against humanity committed in East Timor must rest with those who planned, organised, trained and equipped militia who actually carried out the violence.

"The militia leaders, the most conspicuous subjects for prosecution ... are not really the most important subjects for investigation in relation to these serious human rights violations," he says.

The report, which has been obtained by Herald, casts doubt on Indonesia's promises to prosecute the officers behind the violence.

It urges the immediate establishment of an international tribunal to put officers on trial unless Indonesia fulfils its promises.

But the UN, apparently worried the report will disrupt negotiations with Indonesia, has refused to make it public.

Mr Dunn, a former Australian consul in Dili, rejects repeated Indonesian claims that the violence was a spontaneous response by pro-Jakarta East Timorese to the vote for independence.

"Several of the senior TNI [military] officers mentioned in this report not only sponsored the setting up of the militia, provided training, arms, money and in some cases drugs, they also encouraged its campaign of violence and organised the wave of destruction and deportation that occurred between 5 and 20 September," Mr Dunn says.

He identifies five senior officers as the "leading actors" in what was in effect a conspiracy to implement a campaign of violence against the unarmed supporters of independence.

"The reality behind the scenes suggests that at least some military commanders were exhorting the militia to kill," he says.

Mr Dunn says the number of people killed in East Timor may be greatly in excess of 1,000.

Many killings, especially in the interior, have not been investigated, he says.

Mr Dunn says the continued forced detention of tens of thousands of East Timorese in camps in Indonesian West Timor is one of the most serious crimes against humanity that he investigated.

It is still being perpetrated, he says.

Mr Dunn says the crimes he investigated will set back East Timor for a generation.

"The wave of violence led to very serious crimes against humanity.

"They include killings, including mass murder, torture, abduction, sexual assault and assault against children, as well as mass deportation and forced dislocation.

"The crimes against humanity also include the massive destruction of shelter and of services essential to the upholding of the basic rights of the East Timorese to health care and education." 

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