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East Timor: Update on Los Palos killings

Human Rights Watch/Asia - June 5, 1997

New York – We have received new information about the killing of seven civilians at the home of Castelho, a teacher at the local elementary school in Irara, Los Palos, East Timor, that raises questions about the identity of the attackers.

In our June 4 news release, "East Timor: Concern Over Guerrilla Attacks and Government Reprisals," we cited unconfirmed reports that Castelho was known as a supporter of integration and the attacks were carried out by guerrillas. Both those statements are open to question.

In 1993, after the capture of East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, many people in Los Palos suspected of belonging to the underground network were brought in and interrogated by military intelligence; one question that frequently came up, according to HRW/Asia sources, was how well the suspect knew Castelho, suggesting that Castelho himself was suspected at that time of having ties to the underground. Neither the identity of those who attacked Castelho nor their motivation is clear.

As reports of reprisal actions by the Indonesian military continue to come in, Human Rights Watch/Asia reiterates its call on all parties to the conflict to respect basic principles of human rights and humanitarian law.

Poster's Note: The seven civillians killed at Castelho's house were: Gregorius Kedang, a teacher; Gregorius Kedang's stepchild; Castelho, a teacher; Castelho's wife and Castelho's three children.