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ABRI issues shoot-on-sight warnings in Dili

East Timor International Support Center - July 13, 1998

The East Timor International Support Center is deeply disturbed by reports from East Timor's capital, Dili, that shoot on sight warnings have been issued by the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) to East Timorese planning pro-independence protests this week.

UN Special Representative for East Timor, Jamsheed Marker is scheduled to visit Dili tomorrow, July 14. Friday, July 17, marks the 22nd year of East Timor's forceful incorporation into Indonesia as the republic's 27th province.

ETISC received information, this morning, from Dili that the top command of ABRI in East Timor issued the warning that Indonesian troops would not hesitate to use force and even shoot on sight protestors calling for East Timor's independence, in the lead up to "Integration Day". At the moment there are numerous roadblocks, manned by the Indonesian military, on the roads leading to Dili from the outer districts. Seven youths, last night, were arrested by the military in Comoro, a sub-district of Dili.

Nine batallions of ABRI troops are now stationed at Batugade and Balibo, bordering West Timor. These troops were stationed there after some of the families of Indonesian troops left the territory on rumours that there could be a "civil war".

Unconfirmed reports from Dili, today, indicate that the ABRI top command together with intelligence agencies held a meeting on July 8 at the Balai Prajurit to plan the disruption, by force if necessary, the planned protests this week against Indonesian rule. The meeting agreed on the following:

  • The planned protest against Indonesia, to be held on conjunction with Jamsheed Marker's visit on July 14, will be broken up with force;
  • Prevent any East Timorese groups campaigning for independence from meeting with the UN Special Representative;
  • If the July 14 protest cannot be disrupted, plans must be made for another action in August;
  • If [Resistance leader] Xanana Gusmao is released, plans must be put in place for his assassination if he returns to East Timor.
  • The situation in East Timor, now, is precarious with ABRI set to carry out another Santa Cruz-like massacre without any compunction whatsoever. Because of this we urge the international community to intervene immediately to prevent more bloodbaths in the troubled territory. Comments made, yesterday to The Australian, by the Indonesia-installed East Timor Governor Abilio Soares are also deeply disturbing and are a percussor of things to come in the territory.

    In the interview, Soares warned "the military [Indonesian armed forces] will take a tough stand against public protests because of fears that recent violent clashes over the future status of the contested territory could reignite 'civil war'."

    He also questioned the "desirability" of early reductions in troop numbers in the troubled territory and has asked Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto to take action in East Timor to avoid anarchy "because the young people are acting without control any more."

    From his comments and request to the Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) to use force in East Timor, it is clear that the governor has no qualms in doing the bidding of Jakarta to prevent a referendum from being held to determine the future of the troubled territory.

    And it seems Abilio Soares has employed the tactic of trying to make the outside world believe that a civil war would ensue if the East Timorese exercise their right of self-determination.

    The fact of the matter is that ABRI is the problem in East Timor. In order for any progress to be made on the future of the troubled territory, there must be significant reductions in regular and territorial troops, there, together with a complete withdrawal of all military intelligence agents. Also all civilian para-military groups, sponsored by the Special forces, must be completely disbanded.