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East Timor disappearance

East Timor Human Rights Centre - July 28, 1997

The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) fears for the safety of Santina Morreira Belo, aged 22, and her baby aged under one, who disappeared after Santina Morreira Belo was arrested on 12 July 1997.

Santina Morreira Belo was arrested by members of Koppasus (Special Forces Command), the Police, and Team Saka (a team of East Timorese who have been recruited into the Indonesian military). The reason for her arrest and disappearance is not known, however, it may be related to an intensive military operation in the Quelicai sub-district which was launched in response to the 31 May grenade attack by members of the armed East Timorese Resistance on an Indonesian army truck in Quelicai. The ETHRC has already reported the names of 114 East Timorese civilians who have been arrested in the operation since early June (see UA 179/97, UA 17/97PR and UA 19/97). The fate of most of the detainees is still unknown.

Internal steps taken to locate Santina Morreira Belo and her baby have so far been unsuccessful and the ETHRC holds grave fears for their safety if they are not located soon. Detainees in East Timor are routinely subjected to torture and ill-treatment while in military or police custody, especially if they are denied access to their families and independent legal counsel.

Santina Morreira Belo is from the hamlet of Defadae in Makalaku village, Quelicai sub-district. She is married and is the daughter of Deolindo Belo and Deolinda Belo