Lieutenant Colonel Supadi (second
military commander of East Timor) in answer to questions
about civilian deaths near Suai, denied that TNI had any
involvement. He admitted, however, that TNI had been
recruiting and arming militias to support the
pro-integration stand and had handed out weapons to the
Mahidi militia, who number about 1,200, saying that they had
been given guns and rifles captured from Fretilin as well as
SP1 and SP2 rifles which were, until recently, used by the
Indonesian military. Col. Supadi admitted that the two-week
training that had been given to the locally hired militia
members might have been inadequate. "They are quick to
be emotional", Supadi said.
The Indonesian Armed Forces Commander and
Minister for Defence, General Wiranto, denied TNI recently
gave guns to civilian militias.
In Maubara about 15 members of Besi Merah
Putih gang stopped a car in which a Liquiça public servant
was riding and threw stones at the passengers. They managed
to save themselves but their car was confiscated and is now
being used by members of BMP gang for their operations.
Cancio Lopes, the commander of Mahidi
told the BBC that he led last month's attack near Suai using
automatic weapons supplied less than four weeks previously
by the army. He said that he received 20 Chinese-made SKS
rifles from the local military headquarters on 30 December.
‘We used the SKS rifles together with three M-16s we had
for the attack’. He said the military had already allowed
him to use M-16 rifles captured earlier from anti-Indonesian
rebels. Mr Lopes then described how he led an attack on 26
January near the town of Suai, killing six people, including
a pregnant woman and a 15-year-old schoolboy. Two days
earlier his group killed another four people suspected of
working with the rebels.
Major General Adam Damiri, chief of the
Eastern Indonesia regional military command said the armed
forces have begun handing out limited supplies of weapons to
civilian recruits in East Timor because it was necessary to
help maintain peace and order in areas that have been
frequently attacked by the rebels. He denied allegations the
weapons were handed out to enforce integration.
Colonel Tono Suratman, military commander
of East Timor, said the army would recruit 1,000 East
Timorese and train them as a new civil militia (Wanra) but
insisted they would not be armed. He said "this is part
of the policy by the central government to maintain
security. The recruits are to be stationed with police in
isolated villages considered security risks". Suratman
said recruits would be given a one-year contract and a
monthly salary of 200,000 rupiah (US$24) Another officer
said "they will only be given clubs and
The Bishop of East Timor, Nobel Peace
Laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo and Xanana Gusmao, the jailed
leader of CNRT, call for the disbanding of armed civilian
groups in East Timor.
The political spokesman for the CNRT in
Dili, Francisco Cepeda, said that many people do not want to
join militias but they were just picked up on military
trucks and taken to Dili without being told what was
Besi Merah Putih (BMP) has been behind
many of the attacks on the villages around Maubara which
have resulted in the flight of the majority of the residents
(especially the male youths) to Dili. The victims of their
attacks have tended to be those people suspected of being
pro-referendum, but many of their victims have been ordinary
villagers who don't understand why they are attacked,
including the head of the village of Fatuboro. Apart from
attacking and raiding villages, this group loots the
property owned by the victims.
A Western diplomat in Jakarta worries
that "they're little more than thugs."
Colonel Mudjiono admits 100 rifles were
distributed to integrationists in January to even the odds
between them and Fretilin guerrillas. Bishop Belo doesn't
buy the self-defence line, pointing out that the larger,
better-equipped Indonesian military is more than a match for
Fretilin. Belo complains "what are the professional
soldiers doing? What are they getting paid for? In 15 years
here, I've never heard of Fretilin raiding a village and
causing 6,000 people to flee".
Benendito de Jesus, vegetable vendor, 25
years old was shot in Dili. He died immediately from a
gunshot wound in his head. Mahidi members were driving
around in a Toyota Kijang and when they passed Bairro-Pite
area, they started shooting at random. This caused the
people in the area to panic, become angry and run after the
Toyota. When the residents reached the Brimob (mobile police
brigade) barracks, the Brimob officers and other police
officers, fully armed, blocked their way. Not long after
someone from inside the barracks shot into the crowd. One of
the bullets struck Benendito in the head.
Xanana Gusmao demanded immediate and
total disarmament of the militias saying they are simply
death squadrons which intimidate, scare and kill the
East Timor police chief Timbul Silaen
announced that Benendito de Jesus was allegedly shot dead by
an Indonesian policeman who is now under investigation.
Other sources say that the perpetrator of the shooting was
not a member of Brimob, but a Mahidi member hiding inside
Members of Besi Merah Putih gang along
with TNI (Koramil 03 Maubara and BTT 143) troops attacked
Guiso village in the Maubara district and arrested a number
of people including women and children. Those who were
arrested were brought to the BTT 143 post and
All the sub-district heads and village
heads in the Bobonaro district received an order from the
commander of Halilintar militia, Joao Tavares, to attend a
meeting. At the meeting, Tavares said that he would fire
them all if they did not mobilize the masses to attend a
conference on February 19 in Balibo. The Bobonaro district
TNI commander also spoke at the meeting. He said that if the
military wing of the CNRT was Falintil, then the military
wing of the (recently formed pro-integration group) FPDK was
Halilintar, Mahidi, Naga Merah, and Besi Merah Putih.
A spokesman for the armed forces in
Jakarta, General Sudjarat confirms that guns were provided
to pro-Indonesian groups in East Timor. He says "we
only give the weapons to those we trust. These people are
supposed not to kill civilians, they are supposed to protect
the civilians against Fretilin guerrillas".
David Dias Ximenes, deputy of CNRT in
Dili meets the Deputy District Police Chief, Colonel Muafi
Sahudji, to make an appeal to end the two-month-old clashes
in the Maubara district. Ximenes told the press afterwards
that TNI seem to be giving a free hand to pro-integration
groups to terrorize and intimidate pro-independence groups.
"The police is constantly patrolling in Maubara. Why
are the "red white iron" groups (allowed to) carry
sharp weapons, intimidate the public, destroy homes and
possessions, cut hair of young men and injure people with
spears. They are not arrested or called up by the
The Indonesian government and TNI was
urged by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
to disarm the TNI-trained civilian militia in East Timor who
are allegedly armed with loaded weapons. "The situation
could broaden the conflict with further bloodshed and could
jeopardize negotiation efforts," said ICRC President
Cornelio Sommaruga, in Jakarta. "From the report which
was sent to us, we know many sad stories because of the
existence of this paramilitary group. The paramilitary are
hard to control because they don’t have such a neat
command chain," Sommaruga said.
Wiranto (centre) is head of the Indonesian armed
forces, seated between Bishop Basilio do Nascimento
and Bishop Belo.
"The Indonesian military
not only turned a blind eye to Saturday's militia
attacks in Dili but had prior knowledge of the planned
targets at the most senior level, diplomatic sources
claimed. The sources said the militia attack was
discussed at a senior security co-ordination meeting
held at the Cilangkap armed forces headquarters in
Jakarta, and was attended by General Wiranto, Udayana
military commander Major General Adam Damiri and East
Timor military commander Colonel Tono Suratman."
The threats two days ago by Halilintar
leader, Joao Tavares, to the jobs of officials in Bobonaro
pays off. About 5,000 people attend the Balibo meeting
designed to mark the start of a campaign by the pro-autonomy
Militia groups, angry about Australia's
policy shift on East Timor, (which now supports independence
for East Timor if that is what the Timorese choose) faxed a
signed letter from their Jakarta hotel to all foreign
embassies in Jakarta, in which they threatened to kill
Australian diplomats and journalists, whom they accused of
having published distorted information. Eurico Guterres,
leader of Aitarak militia is one of the signatories.
The spokesman of the East Timor police,
Captain Widodo announces registration for a second batch of
250 civilian militiamen to assist its operations.
Registration for "Keamanan Rakyat (People's Security or
Kamra)" for East Timor will open on March 1. "They
are not equipped with firearms but are only using equipment
such as handcuffs, batons, whistles and shields,"
Halilintar arrested and brutalized at
least 6 residents of the town of Atabae. The victims are
taken to the local army headquarters (Koramil) after being
beaten. Halilintar, armed with automatic weapons, begin
patrolling at night in Atabae and its environs.
Members of the Besi Merah Putih begin
checking travellers on the roads in the Liquiça district.
They are searching for anyone appearing to be a
The local district civilian head opened
fire on about 200 pro-independence villagers after calling
them to a meeting at Guiso village in Maubara. He was backed
by members of the armed paramilitary groups Besi Merah Putih
and Halilintar. The residents defended themselves and three
members of BMP were killed and five others seriously
injured. Soldiers of the 143rd Battalion intervened in the
conflict to defend the BMP squad, injured 4 villagers and
then burnt down 39 houses.
In an attack on the village of Fatuvou,
near Maubara in the Liquiça district, not only did the Besi
Merah Putih and Rajawali militias take part, but also
Indonesian soldiers from the Maubara Koramil (military
command) and from Battalion 143. Four civilians were shot
and wounded and 18 were arrested. Soldiers prevented a
Caritas ambulance from Dili from reaching Fatuvou to help.
The ambulance was only allowed through after some days.
A militia squad killed a liurai
(traditional chief) named Mendes in Balibo. He had
reportedly refused to attend a meeting organized by the
Four civilians in Loes are wounded by
Militiamen fire on dozens of
pro-independence supporters in Dili, killing three people
and injuring several others, One of the dead is Francisco
da Conceicao Hornai, 23. Their bodies are taken to the
ICRC office. The confrontation broke out during a funeral
near an army barracks at Becora on the outskirts of Dili. A
witness said the gunmen belonged to a local para-military
group that has received weapons from the Indonesian
military. The group was led by Domingos Berek who is a
member of the army. Two Portuguese journalists, Jose Maria
and Jose Alberto Carvalho of SIC, a private television news
station, were beaten by assailants during the shooting
UN envoy Tamrat Samuel met
pro-independence supporters in Dili in an effort to
negotiate a peaceful settlement.
Armed civilians supporting integration
within Indonesia will be welcome to stay in East Timor once
the territory becomes independent, a delegation of East
Timor traditional chiefs guaranteed during a reception at
the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon.
Basilio Araujo of the FPDK tells
journalists while in Jakarta that the militias have 10,000
weapons. "They are paramilitaries and we are a
non-government organisation. But we are all pro-integration
and they will protect us," he said.
At a gathering, the chief commander of
East Timor's pro-integration paramilitary groups, Joao
Tavares, repeated his threat that the life of at least one
Australian diplomat would have to be sacrificed to prevent
the deaths of East Timorese in a civil war being caused by
Australia. Mr Tavares, claims to speak only for his 2,400
men in Atabae, an area with a population of 87,000. Also
present is Eurico Guterres. Atabae has recently been the
scene of roadblocks and harassment of pro-independence
supporters, some of whom have been attacked with knives and
In Dili independence supporter, Jose Luis
Varaderas, said "these paramilitaries have no popular
support. The Indonesians bribe people and give them guns.
Life here is hard. If you have a starving family you do it,
but the people here just want peace."
It has been reported that Indonesian
government had already invested 26 billion rupiahs (US$3
million) in arming the paramilitaries to contrive
"civil war" in East Timor. Also that for months
the Indonesian military had been landing large numbers of
troops in West Timor and trucking them East with weapons.
When they return, they no longer had weapons.
The UN Secretary General's Special
Envoy on East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, called the recent flow
of arms into East Timor "very disquieting", but
said he felt a war could be avoided.
Xanana Gusmao condemned a group of
pro-Indonesian East Timorese currently staying in Jakarta
and accused them of being paid by "an unknown
party" to wage war against pro-independence East
Timorese. "They have been staying in a five-star hotel
for one month" Gusmao said of the group. Gusmao blamed
clashes between pro- and anti-Indonesian East Timorese,
which have claimed several lives in the past month, on a
"third party", the SGI. He called for the SGI to
be withdrawn from East Timor.