APSN Banner

Protest against Indonesian army

MateBEAN - November 11, 1997 (Posted by the East Timor International Support Center)

Lospalos – Last 3 November 1997, dozens of East Timor youth conducted a demonstration in Los Palos, Lautem. The demo was a protest against the behaviour of army soldiers shooting in random when a group of Catholics passed a military post in Paioto. Los Palos on August 31.

They carried banners and one of the biggest banner said "ABRI, if you do not like our people, go to hell and leave Loro Sae Land!" The white banner was tied across the main road of Los Palos. They also blocked the main road with rocks and burned car tyres.

"We were on a a religious pilgrimage to Soibada, Baucau, when suddenly we heard shots," said a young man to MateBEAN

Soibada is the biggest Catholic mission in East Timor. The pilgrimage itself was one of many ceremonies commemorating the Month of Virgin Mary. Almost all Catholics from the whole East Timor joined the procession.

Although there were no casualties in the incident, the people of Lautem was angry to the barbarian act of the military unit and did not respect a religious procession.

A local military authority said in an official report that his soldiers was forced to shoot because some people threw stones at the military building and shouted obscene words to the soldiers.

But the report was denied by the protesters. The highest ranking local government authority (Bupati), Edmundo da Conceicao, tried to be a mediary by arranging a meeting between the protesters and the military district comman-der, Lieutenant Colonel Pandu Wibowo and the 745th Los Palos Army Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Simson Siregar. The protester dispersed after Pandu Wibowo promised to punish the soldiers responsible for the arbitrary shootings.