Army hunts Timorese massacre witnesses

Issue 

Sources in Indonesia have told the human rights campaign Tapol that eight East Timorese eyewitnesses to the Santa Cruz massacre in November, who have been in hiding in Jakarta since late August, are being hunted down by Indonesian security forces. The names known are Filipe R. Pereira, Jose Manuel de Sousa, Clementino F. Oliveira, Nelson A. Baptista, Ventura V. Conceicao, Mateus Brito Ximenez, Profirio da C. Oliveira. The eighth may be Laurindo Albino Lourdes.

These eight are in extreme danger, confirmed by the fact that members of their families, living and working in East Timor, have been arrested. It is thought that they are being interrogated as to the whereabouts of their relatives. One of the parents is Maria Branca (mother of Laurindo Albino Lourdes above and wife of Albino Lourdes, a political prisoner in Cipinang prison since 1984).

Others who have been arrested in this connection are Gaspar and Agostinho Pereira. Agostinho Pereira, brother of Filipe, was arrested at Dili airport in early September and beaten by Indonesian security forces so badly that blood was pouring from his ears. The arrest and beating were in order to discover the whereabouts of Filipe and the other friends.

These eight people in Jakarta and their families in East Timor are in imminent and extreme danger. From the past behaviour of Indonesian troops and the beatings and arrests suffered by members of the families, if the eight are detained by the Indonesian troops, they are at risk of ill-treatment and even torture.

Tapol is asking supporters of human rights to lobby their governments to take action to end the continuous hounding and intimidation of the East Timorese people by Indonesian army and security forces. In particular, embassies in Jakarta should take urgent steps to ensure the safety of the eight, who are being hunted down as witnesses of the Santa Cruz massacre. The eight must be given sanctuary against the threats of ill-treatment and wrongful imprisonment.

Governments should also be urged to intervene on behalf of the relatives of the eight who are being interrogated as hostages. The detention of members of the families is wholly unjustified and contrary to recognised universal human rights. Actions of this sort are intended to intimidate and frighten the eight as well as people in East Timor. The holding of innocent people as hostages must be condemned and the release of these three demanded immediately, with a guarantee that they will not be intimidated in the future.

Tapol also reports that the mission of Australian parliamentarians which is scheduled to visit East Timor later this month has already resulted in "large numbers of youths" being rounded up in East Timor. The security forces are taking extensive precautionary measures to ensure that no hint of protest or dissent is evident while the parliamentarians are in the territory.

Meanwhile, intense pressure is being exerted on East Timorese to enlist in the army. They are being promised six months' training, land, a house and money to entice them to fight against the guerillas in the bush. This may be part of Brigadier General Theo Syafei's plan to try to cut down on the number of combat troops brought in from outside the region, enabling him to announce the disbanding of the special military command, Kolakops, by next March.

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