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Pictures of rape, torture released

South China Morning Post - November 21, 1997

Shocking photographs showing the alleged rape and torture of Timorese women by Indonesian soldiers were made public in Australia yesterday.

A representative of the Darwin-based East Timor International Centre (ETIC), a group opposed to Indonesia's 22-year occupation of Timor, released 40 pictures.

The pictures, taken in the Timor capital Dili, show five naked and half-naked women, one apparently pregnant, with bags over their heads.

The ETIC said one of the women shown was tortured to death. Men in army fatigues and balaclavas are pictured undressing the women, pulling their legs apart, holding them down and tying them to a tree.

The images include a woman's genitals being burned with a cigarette, a nail being hammered into the stomach of another, graphic sexual assault and the stabbing of one woman.

The photographs also show what appears to be blood splattered on the women's bodies and a Christian cross and messages in Indonesian written on their skin.

ETIC said the messages included: "If you are God's child, try to come down and resuscitate your faithful."

Australian East Timor Association convenor Andrew McNaughtan, also a doctor, said the pictures were taken by the Indonesian military and sold to Timorese resistance fighters who smuggled them to Australia.

ETIC spokesman Maria Soares said the images were a "black reminder" of what she said she had seen in East Timor before she fled to Australia in 1985.

Ms Soares said she could not prove the photographs' authenticity but it was unlikely any East Timorese woman would have agreed to pose for photographs that included a Christian cross being drawn on their skin.

A human rights team arrived in East Timor yesterday to investigate a clash between students and troops in capital Dili that left seven people in hospital last week.