Subject: Laks.Net: Feared Militia Leader Lives Happily in Yogya [Joao da Silva Tavares]

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Laksamana.Net August 21, 2003

Feared Militia Leader Lives Happily in Yogya

Joao da Silva Tavares, widely regarded as one of the most feared and hated pro-Jakarta militia leaders of East Timor, is these days enjoying retirement in Indonesia¬Āfs ancient temple city of Yogyakarta.

Tavares is the former leader of Bobonaro district¬Āfs notorious Halilintar militia and also served as supreme commander of the East Timorese Integration Fighters Legion (PPI).

The murderous militias were formed by the Indonesian military in an effort to intimidate the people of East Timor not to vote for independence in an August 1999 referendum organized by the United Nations.

Following the referendum, in which the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to secede from Indonesia, the military and its militia proxies went on orgies of killing, looting and arson.

An estimated 1,000 people were killed during the carnage, before the militias withdrew to West Timor, which is part of Indonesia¬Āfs East Nusa Tenggara province.

In July 2003, Tavares was indicted in absentia in Dili for crimes against humanity for his active leadership role in the militias in Bobonaro. The militias were accused of a series of abuses, including a massacre at the Maliana police station on September 8, 1999.

East Nusa Tenggara Military Command chief Colonel Moeswarno Moesanip on Wednesday (20/8/03) told state news agency Antara that Tavares has chosen to live in Yogyakarta because he feels free from persecution and accusations of human rights violations.

"He has been living in Yogyakarta only recently but is enjoying the rest of his life there," said Moesanip.

He said Tavares enjoys the pleasant atmosphere in Yogyakarta and is also free from economic hardship.

Earlier this month, Tavares warned that more violence would erupt in East Timor if the new nation¬Āfs government and people don¬Āft cease their efforts to take legal action against former militia leaders.

He instead called on all East Timorese people to ¬Āgcontinue the reconciliation process¬Āh to create stability.

Reconciliation would only be achieved if the East Timorese people forgive each other and don't try to take revenge on their enemies by attempting to bring them to court, he added.

He said jail is not the right place to resolve the problems faced by East Timor. The right place lies in the inner hearts of the East Timorese people, who are ready to forgive each other, forget the bitter experiences of the past and step forward to a peaceful future, he asserted.

Tavares said reconciliation would only be strong and durable if the East Timorese do not seek to take revenge for mistakes of the past.

"We should not seek legal process against those considered guilty," he was quoted as saying by Antara.

Tavares claimed he had decided to live far away from the border West Timor and East Timor in order to create peace for East Timor¬Āfs younger generation.

"Certain quarters in East Timor would consider it a constraint to create peace if I live in the border areas," he said.

Indonesia has shown zero desire to hand over soldiers and former militia leaders wanted in East Timor for crimes against humanity.

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