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Grave fears for safety of East Timorese in detention in Dili

East Timor Human Rights Centre - December 1, 1997

Grave fears are held for the safety of Bobby Xavier, Boaventura, Cristiano Conjaka and Gaspar da Silva who are currently in detention at POLDA (the local police) station in Dili.

According to ETHRC sources, Bobby Xavier who is from Matadouro, Dili, was arrested in Dili on 22 November and has been accused of involvement in the killing of a member of the Indonesian military, Alfredo de Santo Siga, on Christmas Eve, 1996. Siga was beaten to death after violence broke out at a gathering of thousands of people who were welcoming Bishop Belo home following the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The crowd had become angry at the presence of armed security forces at the gathering (see UA 3/97 for details).

Boaventura, Cristiano Conjaka and Gaspar da Silva were arrested, together with Rosa Sarmento, at their home in the hamlet of Karau Mate, Becora, a suburb of Dili, on 23 November, by soldiers and police from the Indonesian military. It is believed the four were arrested under suspicion of assisting Bobby Xavier who was being sought by Indonesian authorities. They were arrested without warrants, and at the time of their arrests it is believed they were subjected to physical assault. The ETHRC has been informed that Rosa Sarmento has now been released but that Boaventura, Cristiano Conjaka, Gaspar da Silva are still in detention at POLDA.

The ETHRC is concerned that the four East Timorese people are being arbitrarily detained. It is not known whether charges have been brought against them and it is believed they have been denied access to members of their families and to legal representation. Detainees in East Timor are at heightened risk of torture and ill-treatment while in detention if they are denied access to their families, legal representation and humanitarian assistance.