East Timor 'resistance is strong'

July 5, 1995

East Timor 'resistance is strong'

Recent arrivals from East Timor, who must remain anonymous, have told Green Left Weekly that the Indonesian occupation forces are stepping up their campaign of detention and terror, aimed specifically at young people in order to destroy their spirit and stop them from joining the resistance.

One arrival said, "They use many means to oppress the people, especially the young. But they are not afraid despite that oppression. Sections within the students burn cars and military motorcycles every day, but this is not reported. The resistance is strong."

However, the situation is desperate. "The people are suffering, especially the young people ... They cannot sleep in the same house every night; they must move from house to house to keep ahead of the military."

One arrival predicted the genocide of his people. Soon, he said, "The East Timorese people will disappear — they will all die."

The East Timorese also spoke about "cultural genocide", about the increasing pressure of not being allowed to congregate in groups or to carry out traditional cultural activities.

People are not allowed to visit their neighbours; if they do, they are reported by one of the many government spies, and will be visited by the military. This usually results in someone from either or both households being held for questioning. Even visiting a sick relative or friend can cause their torture and death, or yours.

The Indonesian occupation forces' policy of keeping community members isolated is a move that the recent arrivals say is designed to "weaken and eventually wipe out East Timorese culture".

Pressure is also still on from the formation of "ninja" groups, which roam at night. The new arrivals say that these ninjas are definitely from local military battalions and also include local Javanese business people. They say they are not East Timorese, as the Indonesian authorities have claimed. At present there are three Indonesians to every East Timorese person in Dili.

One of the military's strategies is to "borrow" an East Timorese person's car — one cannot refuse. That night the car is used in ninja raids. The military do not even try to hide their activities from the locals, only from the outside world.

But the East Timorese say that all this is making young people more determined to resist the Indonesian tyranny. The young people are saying, "Even if we die, we will die for independence". n

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