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ICC Note

The President of Indonesia is already trying to discredit the report that says Indonesia ’s presence in East Timor caused thousands of deaths, and other officials in Indonesia are calling it false, even though Christians from the East Timor area of told of these brutalities for years.

Susilo concerned about reports on East Timor

The Jakarta Post (01/20/06)

For full story, click here: Susilo Concerned about East Timor Reports

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has expressed concern about media reports saying that Indonesia ‘s presence in East Timor resulted in the deaths of up to 180,000 civilians, presidential spokesman Dino Pati Djalal said Friday.

“The President is concerned about the news. But he hasn’t received any direct explanation from the Timor Leste side. We are surprised because the report does not come from the (Timor Leste) government but from other parties,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Quoting a report issued by the East Timor Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the media reports say Indonesia ‘s 24-year presence resulted in the deaths of 180,000 civilians in East Timor .

The report also accused the Indonesian Military of using starvation and sexual violence as weapons to control its former province.

Based on interviews with almost 8,000 witnesses, as well as Indonesian Military papers and intelligence from international sources, the report detailed thousands of summary executions and the torture of 8,500 people.

For full story, click here: For full story, click here: Susilo Concerned about East Timor Reports

Sian Powell, Jakarta correspondent, January 19, 2006

ONE of the most enduring horrors of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor was the “fence of legs” campaign in 1981, which rounded up civilians – young and old, sick and hungry – and made them march across the island.

The fence of legs was intended to flush out resistance fighters, and most importantly Fretilin leader Xanana Gusmao, now the fledgling nation’s President.

Instead, the weakened East Timorese fell sick and died in horrendous numbers, and the march ended in a massacre.

The report by the UN’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation has found that as many as 60,000 civilians were forced into the marches.

In mid-1981, one human fence began walking westwards from Tutuala in the far east of East Timor , while another began marching along the Viqueque corridor to the northeast. The two fences converged on Mount Matebian , and then fanned out to Lacluta.

The report found that when the advance reached Lacluta in September, hundreds of people were massacred by Indonesian troops. “The commission received evidence of a large massacre of civilians, including women and children, at this time,” it says.

Indonesian authorities admitted to only 70 being killed, while Monsignor Costa Lopes of East Timor ‘s Catholic church said the death toll was closer to 500.

An East Timorese resistance fighter told the commission the killings were conducted by Battalion 744, later to be commanded by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, now Indonesia ‘s President.

“I witnessed with my own eyes how the Indonesian military, Battalion 744, killed civilians in front of me,” Albino da Costa said.

“They captured those unarmed people, tied them up then stabbed them to death. There was a pregnant woman captured and killed just like that. I saw it from a close distance, just 100m from where it happened.”

The operation found far more villagers than guerilla fighters cowering in the bush.

It is likely that many Timorese refused to give up the resistance fighters, and those coerced “assistants” comprising the fence of legs – many of them children – failed to notice them.

The commission found the operation had “very serious humanitarian consequences” on an already weakened civilian population. Many died in the struggle across East Timor ‘s rugged terrain. The forced march took place over the planting season, and most of the subsistence farmers forced to participate could not plant their crops, leading to yet another famine.

The fence of legs operation was not an isolated incident.

The Indonesian military routinely used civilians in campaigns – several thousand children were recruited as operations assistants, according to the commission.

For the fence of legs campaign, the commission found that the Indonesian military recruited children as young as 10.

East Timorese civilians were savagely punished if they failed in the duties they were coerced into by the Indonesian military.

“On 14 July 1980, Rubigari, Rai Olo, Rubi Gamu and Loi Gamu were forced by TNI (the then Indonesian military) to guard the post at night,” one witness testified.

“My father, Rubigari, fell asleep when it was his turn to do the night watch.

“He was caught by three members of TNI Battalion 202. They shouted at him, kicked and hit him with their weapons until his ribs were broken, and he died right there.”

Save our souls, plead West Papuans

Ian Gerard, Mapoon, January 19, 2006

MORE than 40 West Papuan asylum-seekers, who fled the troubled Indonesian province in a large outrigger canoe six days ago, landed on a remote beach in far north Queensland yesterday.

The landing raises questions about Australia ‘s border security and is set to test relations with Indonesia . The boat, carrying some of West Papua ‘s most outspoken independence activists, landed at the Janey Creek campsite, north of the Aboriginal community of Mapoon.

The 25m traditional dugout canoe was fitted with an outboard motor and was flying the outlawed West Papuan flag.

“Save West Papua people soul from genocide intimidation and terorist from military government of Indonesian,” a crudely worded banner on the boat read. “Also we West Papuan need freedom peace love and justice in our home land.”

Immigration officers were interviewing the 36 adults and seven children last night, having moved them by four-wheel-drive to Cullen Point, then by bus to Weipa, where they were to be held overnight. The West Papuans – who had earlier huddled under a tree on the beach and were said by police to be scared – are only the third boatload of asylum-seekers to land on mainland Australia in four years.

Australia West Papua Association convenor Louise Byrne said the asylum-seekers left Merauke in West Papua for Cape York last Friday and fears had been raised yesterday that they had been lost at sea.

The asylum-seekers, faced with increasing political tension in West Papua and the overwhelming strength of the Indonesian military, had fled the troubled province rather than risk being jailed and tortured for their knowledge of government affairs, Ms Byrne said.

“I would expect the Australian Government to recognise these people as political refugees,” she said. “This is a generation of West Papuan leaders and … they would have done it with full-scale community approval.”

An Indonesian embassy spokesman said the activists were not persecuted and his Government did not believe they had grounds for asylum. “The grounds for requesting asylum for these people are baseless.”

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said she was pleased the boat had been found, given the concerns for its occupants.

Senator Vanstone said the 30 males, six females and seven children had co-operated with officials. “There was an initial concern that four of the males had left the main group, but they were subsequently located … and returned,” she said.

Senator Vanstone made no mention of the request for asylum, nor the association’s demands that the boatpeople not be placed in detention or be represented by government lawyers in their asylum bid.

The asylum-seekers are believed to include Herman Wanggai, a student leader from West Papua who had spent time in prison for treason, his wife and their three-year-old twins.

“He has been one of the strongest and clearest student leaders in the past 12 years,” Ms Byrne said.

Immigration Department spokesman Clayton Boundey said the boat had been spotted by Coastwatch crews about 2pm on western Cape York .

The group was last night taken by bus from Mapoon to the mining town of Weipa .

Seven Indonesians, who claim to be from West Timor, remain in detention on Christmas Island awaiting a decision on their request for asylum. They had travelled by boat and landed near the remote West Australian Aboriginal community of Kalumburu in November.

Unlike independent East Timor, West Timor remains a part of Indonesia , with West Papua .

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said recently that the country’s relations with Australia had improved since East Timor achieved independence, partly because Australia recognised Papua “as part of the unitary state of Indonesia “.

Ms Byrne said the West Papuans , a mixture of independence activists, students and their families, had been in a boat that would have been easily spotted from the air.

“They are pretty sea-savvy and the boat is good,” Ms Byrne said. “It is very seaworthy and there are some good island people there from the north coast who are very fantastic sailors.”

Mr Boundey said it was not unusual for DIMIA to receive reports of boats headed for the Torres Strait from Papau New Guinea and Indonesian West Papua.

Leaders favour silence on horrors

Sian Powell, Analysis, January 19, 2006

GOOD relations with Indonesia have always been of prime importance to the independent nation of East Timor .

The half-island of one million people is surrounded on three sides by giant Indonesia , a sprawling archipelago with a population of 230 million.

East Timorese leaders have found it politic to stay more or less silent on the horrors of the bloody years of occupation.

President Xanana Gusmao, a one-time resistance hero, has fostered amity with Indonesia , even publicly hugging the former head of the Indonesian armed forces, General Wiranto.

Just this month there were reports that Mr Gusmao had invited the notorious militia leader Eurico Gutteres back to East Timor , reports hastily denied after an uproar.

Yet on a broader scale, relations are still brittle. Most Indonesians believe a rigged UN ballot in 1999 stole East Timor from them, along with all the valuable Indonesian investment in infrastructure there. They regard the East Timorese as a thankless and benighted mob. Many East Timorese fear and resent Indonesians – most have lost someone to Indonesian violence or neglect.

So the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation report is a grenade tossed into aflammable international arena.

The Indonesian Government will probably try to ignore the report, even though Mr Gusmao has said he will personally travel to Jakarta to give a copy to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

East Timor will do its best to smooth over the damage to its friendship with Indonesia . Mr Gusmao is required by law to present the report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, but he has obviously been reluctant to release it publicly.

He has repeatedly made it clear the future matters more than seeking retribution for the past – and he carefully downplayed the commission’s report in a speech to parliament.

“The grandiose idealism that they (the commissioners) possess is well manifested to the point that it goes beyond conventional political boundaries,” he said.

And in an obvious reference to Indonesia , he added: “The report says the ‘absence of justice … is a fundamental obstacle in the process of building a democratic society’. My reply to that would be ‘not necessarily’.”

Susilo concerned about reports on East Timor

JAKARTA (JP): President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has expressed concern about media reports saying that Indonesia ‘s presence in East Timor resulted in the deaths of up to 180,000 civilians, presidential spokesman Dino Pati Djalal said Friday.

“The President is concerned about the news. But he hasn’t received any direct explanation from the Timor Leste side. We are surprised because the report does not come from the (Timor Leste) government but from other parties,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Quoting a report issued by the East Timor Truth andReconciliation Commission, the media reports say Indonesia ‘s 24-year presence resulted in the deaths of 180,000 civilians in East Timor .

The report also accused the Indonesian Military of using starvation and sexual violence as weapons to control its former province.

Based on interviews with almost 8,000 witnesses, as well as Indonesian Military papers and intelligence from international sources, the report detailed thousands of summary executions and the torture of 8,500 people.

Thousands of East Timorese women were also allegedly raped and sexually assaulted.

Dino said the Indonesian government had not received a copy of the original report of the commission.

According to Dino , Indonesia and Timor Leste have closed that “chapter and we are now forward looking”.

“We also don’t know where the copy will be sent after it is submitted to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today (Friday).Therefore, we cannot comment further on the contents,” he said.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono rejected an allegation saying that the military used starvation and sexual violence as weapons to control the country.

When asked whether the military had used napalm bombs during its occupation of East Timor, as the report alleged, he replied that the administration of former president Soeharto had “no means to import, let alone to produce” them.

According to The Australian newspaper, the report said that soldiers used napalm as well as chemical weapons to poison food and water supplies during their 1975 invasion of the territory.