Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:52:14 -0400

The statement below was delivered to the deputy minister of foreign affairs of the UK during his visit to Yayasan HAK:


(Kontras, Yayasan HAK, Caritas East Timor, Gertak, Fokupers, DSMPTT, GFFTL, Emergency Aid Post for Internal Refugees)


Democratization in Indonesia has forced president Suharto to end his 32 years of rule. International pressure, specifically by donor countries, have forced the Indonesian government to take steps which reflect its commitment to democracy. This concession to international pressure included an opening of democratic space in East Timor.

In the first months of reform in Indonesia, this political opening allowed for peaceful demonstrations which involved tens of thousands of East Timorese expressing our aspiration for independence and freedom. On the other hand, a number of counter demonstrations were staged by the Indonesian government and military to show the support of some East Timorese to continue integration with Indonesia.

In order to show the world how committed Indonesia is to human rights, the Indonesian government announced the possibility for independence, if an autonomy plan is rejected by the people of East Timor.

However, there still exists some factions who wish to maintain the status quo in East Timor. Popular support for independence in East Timor clearly threatened their interest.

In this effort to preserve the status quo, a concerted campaign to exacerbate the security situation in East Timor was launched. In November 1998, the unofficial cease fire between ABRI and Falintil which has been observed since May 1998 was disrupted by the killings of civilians in sub-district of Alas by the Indonesian military. Following this, new militia groups were formed since December 1998.

Since the forming of these militia groups, human rights condition in East Timor has deteriorated. Militia groups have conducted forced recruitment of civilians and campaigns of torture and intimidation throughout East Timor. The killings of unarmed civilians, including women and children, have forced many to flee their homes. Data gathered by Emergency Aid Post for Internal Refugees show that since November 1998 to March 31 1999, there have been a total of 18,091 internally displaced peoples (IDP's). These IDP's have become a target for killings by militia groups, as clearly demonstrated in the attacks of the Liquiça Church on April 6 1999 and of the home of Manuel Carrascalão on April 17 1999.

Violence in East Timor

Contrary to statements of the Indonesian government which assure a peaceful solution to the East Timor problem, incidents of violence is on the rise. Particularly concerning is the targeting of civilians. Data gathered by Yayasan HAK on attacks towards civilians in Alas (November 1998), documents 15 dead and 95 detained out of which only 15 have received due process of law, and the other 80 disappeared. Also during this same incident, 30 people lost their homes to arson.

In the first 3 months of 1999, Yayasan HAK has documented at least 40 dead, 22 wounded, 8 illegal detention, 2 women raped by militia. Among those victims dead and wounded, included also are women and children.

Despite statements of concern from various parties, officials in East Timor have remained passive in controlling the action of militia groups. In many occasions, Indonesian officials claim that Indonesia is the sovereign power in East Timor. This is ironic given the fact that none of the acts of violence conducted by the militia receive legal sanctions. In fact, Indonesian officials are clearly involved in these incidents.

According to eyewitness statements, Indonesian security forces were actively involved in the attack towards internally displaced people seeking refuge in the Liquiça church (5 April 1999). The Indonesian mobile police brigade (BRIMOB) threw tear gas at the refugees before the attack by the militia. During a rally before the attack of the home of Manuel Carrascalão (17 April 1999), Eurico Guterres, leader of one militia group, openly named and threatened the lives of a number of people. However, Indonesian officials at the rally took no action to prevent attacks by the militia towards these known targets. In the sub-district of Cailaco, regency of Bobonaro, as an act of revenge to the killing of 3 militia members and 2 Indonesian soldiers allegedly conducted by Falintil, the District Commander of Bobonaro (Kodim), Lieut. Col. Cavalry Burhanudin Siagian, commanded the execution of 5 civilians in public on April 12 1999. He also ordered the capture and killing of community leaders thought to be pro-independence which led to a hunting down of civilians and attacks on homes.

Indonesian officials' involvement in the formation of militia groups and their brutal actions is clearly seen in their participation during the inauguration ceremonies. Also, Forum Persatuan Demokrasi dan Keadilan (FPDK or Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice) which controls the activities of the militia is headed by a regent (Bupati). Forum members are made up of local Indonesian officials.

These acts of violence is engineered to prove a thesis held by the Indonesian government-that a referendum will bring East Timor to civil war. Ironically, despite the publicly known fact of military involvement in these incidents of violence, the Indonesian Minister of Defence, General Wiranto, brokered a "peace agreement" between pro-independence and pro-integration groups in Dili on April 21 1999. Given its 23 year reputation in East Timor, we cannot trust that the Indonesian military can play a neutral role. Facts have shown that even after the so-called "peace agreement", acts of violence and killing still continue. According to reports from the parish priest, Fr.Hilario Madeira, in the regency of Suai, around a hundred of young men have been kidnapped by the militia at night. At least 8 bodies have been found in the Tavara river, and there are indications that many more have been killed. The same situation is found in other regencies. Militia groups and the military continue to intimidate, detain and kill civilians even after the peace agreement. It is proven once more that the peace agreement was nothing more than window dressing to allay the concern of the international community.


Killings, terror and intimidation by the militia in East Timor has had a great effect on the people of East Timor. Hundreds have been killed and wounded. Many have been treated in the Motael clinic in Dili. Many people have lost their homes as they were attacked and/ or burned by militias. In Viqueque, at least 500 people have left their homes to unknown location to seek refuge. Similar situation can also be found in Bobonaro, Ermera and Suai.

Psychologically, there is an atmosphere of fear leading to a paralysis in economic activities. In the countryside, farmers have stopped their agricultural activities because the militia have prohibited them from leaving a restricted area. The intense feeling of fear has caused a large number of residence to take refuge in various places. In Dili, there are at least 1200 internally displaced refugees. A number of these refugees were killed during the militia attack at Manuel Carrascalão' s house on 17 April 1999.

Terror and intimidation are also directed towards civil servants. They have been forced to sign documents showing their allegiance to the Indonesian Republic otherwise they will lose their job. Threatened with dismissal, in some areas civil servants are being forced to become members of FPDK. Such terror and intimidation does not give them much choice; if they stand up for their principle, they will lose their jobs at a time when the economy is at a complete standstill. They could even become target of assassination if they decide to leave their jobs.

Threats and terror are also directed towards humanitarian workers in East Timor. These humanitarian organizations are not granted access to provide necessary medicine and food for internally displaced people. These organizations have been targeted for attack, and their workers have received threats on their lives.


Based upon the above facts, we, humanitarian NGOs in East Timor, demand:

1. A presence of UN peacekeeping forces in East Timor. 2. Disarmament of militia. 3. The UN pressure Indonesia to withdraw troops from East Timor, to be followed by the disarmament of Falintil. 4. Guarantee for the safety and free access to the refugees for humanitarian workers in East Timor to conduct their activities. 5. International human rights organizations and humanitarian agencies have access to East Timor.

Dili, 28 April 1999

1.Committee for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras)

Rui Lorenco

2. Foundation for Law, Human Rights and Justice (Yayasan HAK)

Aniceto Guterres Lopes

3. Timor Lorosae Anti Violence Women Movement (Gertak)

Saozinha de Jesus Alves

4. Communication Forum for Loro Sae Women (Fokupers)

Maria Domingas F. Alves

5. East Timor Student Solidarity Council (DSMTT)

Joao Sarmento da Silva

6. Grupo Feto Foin Sae Timor Lorosae (GFFT)

Atanasia Pires

7. Emergency Aid Post for Internal Refugees

Jose Luis de Oliveira

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