|ETAN Press Release: For Immediate Release October 30, 1998
Contact: John M. Miller (718) 596-7668
Documents Reveal Troop Levels Unchanged
Despite Indonesian Claims
Rights Groups Call for International Monitoring and Genuine Withdrawal
The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) and Justice for All today called for international
observers to be sent to East Timor to verify the true extent of Indonesian military
personnel in East Timor and to monitor any claimed withdrawals.
"Their own confidential military documents show that Indonesia cannot be trusted
to keep its word about the true number of troops or the status of troop withdrawals from
East Timor," said John M. Miller of the East Timor Action Network. "Clearly,
international verification is needed. This would be a long overdue first step toward
Indonesia finally complying with U.N. resolutions calling for their withdrawal from the
Leaked Indonesian documents obtained by ETAN show that troop levels remained unchanged
in August, after the Indonesia military (ABRI) staged for the international media what it
said was a withdrawal of 1000 troops from the territory.
The documents contain personnel data which reveal that 7938 combat troops were still
stationed in East Timor in August, unchanged from the level a month earlier when troop
cuts were supposed to have occurred. According to the documents, the total number of ABRI
troops and Indonesian-trained militias was 21,620. The documents show that this is anearly
2000 more troops than the previous November.
The documents also show that units of the Kopassus red berets, are also attached to the
Dili command. The Australian newspaper reported that "sources said at least one
Kopassus company of some 140 troops had been withdrawn. But this leaves one Kopassus
company and a Kopassus intelligence and headquarters unit still in the territory."
Indonesia claims that all special forces have been withdrawn.
Reports of ongoing U.S. military training Kopassus, notorious for committing human
rights violations in both East Timor and Indonesia, led to a Congressional ban on the
training of foreign military units with a history of violating human rights. ETAN and
Justice for All revealed details of this training earlier this year.
The documents contradict the claim by Indonesia that paramilitary groups are not under
ABRI's control. These groups have been accused of being frequent and severe violators of
human rights. An analysis of the documents by the East Timor International Support Center,
which released the documents in Australia, says that "these forces are perceived by
ABRI administration to be part of their operational structure." Indonesia has always
claimed that "they are more like civilian vigilante groups and are not the
responsibility of the Indonesian army."
Recently, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas admitted there were a few combat
troops in East Timor and that territorial battalions numbered only about 6,000.
On December 7, 1975, Indonesia brutally invaded East Timor. The following July East
Timor was illegally but formally "integrated" into Indonesia as its "27th
province." The U.N. and most of the world's countries do not recognize this act, and
the East Timorese reject it. According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church more
than 200,000 -- one-third of the population have been killed by the Indonesian
The East Timor Action Network/US supports genuine self-determination and human rights
for the people of East Timor and democracy in Indonesia. Justice for All is a grassroots
group working for human rights and economic justice.
Detailed analysis of
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sites, or the Reuters, AAP and AFP accounts on Timor