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Further information on arrested East Timorese students

East Timor Human Rights Centre - November 21, 1997

The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) has received further information about the East Timorese students who were injured and detained on 14 November during a confrontation with Indonesian security forces at the University of East Timor in Dili (see UA 26/97 for details).

Joaquim Matetai, Albano Barreto, Adolfo da Costa and Abrao do Nascimento, who sustained gunshot wounds during the incident, were treated for three days at the Wirahusada military hospital at Lahane, Dili, then transferred to POLRES (Police Resort) headquarters in Dili and later released. The ETHRC welcomes the release of these four students.

A fifth man, Bernardino Simao, was also treated for three days at the Wirahusada hospital and then transferred to POLDA (the local police station) in Comoro, Dili. It is believed he has been accused of being the mastermind of the 14 November incident. Another five students, Domingos da Silva, Francisco de Deus, Vicente da Cruz, Juvenal dos Santos and Silverio Baptista, are also believed to be in detention at the POLDA headquarters while another student, Marito de Almeida, is believed to be in detention at POLRES in Dili, where he has been subjected to intensive interrogation.

No further information is available about three other students, Antonio Viegas, Natalina Duarte de Araujo, and Orlando (no surname) but it is believed they may still be held at the Wirhusada military hospital.

An official statement by Colonel Slamat Sidabutar of the Indonesian military, reported in the local newspaper, Suara Timor Timur, stated that sixteen East Timorese people were arrested during the confrontation. According to the report, two members of the BTT (Territorial Battalion) were also treated at the military hospital for injuries sustained during the incident. This was confirmed in an official report from the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) which stated that ICRC delegates visited six civilians and two soldiers at the Wirahusada hospital on 15 November.

The ETHRC is concerned for the safety of all East Timorese students still in detention, particularly those who have sustained injuries. It is believed some detainees have already been subjected to torture so grave fears are held for the remaining detainees. Detainees in East Timor are routinely subjected to torture and ill-treatment while in military or police custody and the risk of torture and ill-treatment is heightened when detainees are denied access to their families and independent legal counsel.