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From to Dili to the shootings in Baucau

Rights Foundation - June 27, 1998

[This is the detailed chronology of events from June 27-June 29, from the EU Ambassadors' visit to Dili to the tragic shootings in Baucau. The following information was supplied to East Timor International Support Centre by Yayasan Hak (Rights Foundation). The original report was in Bahasa Indonesia - ETISC.]

Pro-integration groups are mobilised by Indonesian government officials, with explicit instructions from Jakarta to oppose any demonstrations by East Timorese clamouring for a referendum for East Timor. The government officials have been given orders that the pro-integration demonstrations are to be held in conjunction with the visits of the European Union (EU) ambassadors from Britain, the Netherlands and Austria and are to proceed for eight hours when the EU ambassadors are in Dili.

Besides hardcore pro-integration groups, East Timorese – mostly poor farmers – are rounded up, from other parts of the territory, by the authorities to be bussed in to Dili. The poor East Timorese are tricked into going with promises that they would be welcoming back Nobel Peace laureate Bishop Belo, after his meeting with new Indonesian President B J Habibie. Some of the East Timorese, were duped into thinking they were travelling to Dili to welcome Habibie, who they thought was visiting East Timor.

Security access

Each pro-integration civilian group is given two rifles and a hand-grenade to force, if necessary by the use of arms, the East Timorese to Dili. The time has been fixed. The "pro-integration" East Timorese, from various districts, are to start moving into Dili from 4:30 am onwards. They are due to arrive at Dili's airport in the sub-district of Comoro, between 10.00 am and 12.00 noon.

Each East Timorese in the convoy is given an Indonesia flag and asked to shout these slogans: "Viva Indonesia!, Viva Integration! Long Live Indonesia! Integration, Yes, Autonomy No!"

For fears that the pro-integration convoy could be attacked by East Timorese favouring independence, protection is sought from the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and the Indonesian army. The armed forces (Abri)-sponsored groups like SAKA, Makikit and Halilintar (Lightning) are also asked to provide protection. Comoro: June 27

The EU ambassadors have arrived in Dili from Jakarta. At 11.45 am before the foreign diplomats emerge from the VIP lounge and make their way to Dili's Hotel Mahkota, former East Timor governor Manuel Viegas Carrascalao approaches the airport in his private vehicle – a red four-wheel-drive – and drives into the VIP arrival area. He, too, wants to meet them.

Ten minutes after Carrascalao's arrival, seven motorcycles are seen speeding towards his four-wheel-drive. The youths on the motorcycles want to smash the vehicle. They also hurl abuses at Carrascalao. One of them wants to enter the vehicle forcefully and is seen brandishing a dagger. He screams out that he wants to stab the former governor.

According to witnesses in the crowd, the youth with the dagger is one Eurico – a member of the Abri-controlled Gada Paksi para-military group. Carrascalao's personal bodyguard, Pedro, and the district head of Comoro, Vitorino dos Santos are quick to act. They shield the former governor from the attack. They youths now hurl abuses at Carrascalao. "Smash his vehicle and kill him!" they shout. They go on further. "You are responsible for dividing the East Timorese. We will soon kill you!"

The EU ambassadors soon emerge from the VIP exit and those East Timorese who were bussed in to Dili on the promise that they were either going to greet the Indonesian president or Bishop Belo, are in for a rude shock. After realising that they had been duped, they express their rage by breaking away from the pro-integration convoy.

Five truckloads of them then make their way to the University of Timor Timur to join the pro-independence protestors, shouting "Viva Timor Leste! Viva Xanana Gusmao! Abri are killers!"

Comoro Airport to Dili's Regional Legislative Assembly Building

The pro-integration convoy has been given strict orders to trail the vehicles with the EU ambassadors. All along the way slogans like "Viva Indonesia! Long Live Indonesia! East Timorese Want Autonomy Under Indonesia!", are shouted by the pro-integrationists. The convoy, now, has dwindled to about 250 people and when they reach the Legislative Assembly Building several speakers proceed with orations on "The Concepts of Autonomy, Integration" and "How Indonesia Has Developed East Timor."

A clash soon occurs at around 3.00 pm with the pro-independence demonstrators who had gathered there earlier. After 10 minutes, the Mobile Police Brigade (Brimob) arrives on the scene and breaks-up the fight. Brimob gives the demonstrators – pro-and-anti-integration – ten minutes to leave the area. Clearly outnumbered by the pro-independence demonstrators, the pro-integration East Timorese clear off from the vicinity of the Legislative Assembly Building.

Manatuto: June 27

More pro-integrationists are being mobilised by the Indonesian government authorities – many of them government servants who have been threatened with the sack if they failed to join the protests in favour of Indonesia. In the meantime, a convoy of pro-independence East Timorese from Baucau, Lospalos and Viqueque are making their way to Dili to meet the EU ambassadors. In Manatuto, the pro-independence convoy is blocked by the pro-integrationists on the road leading to Dili. The tensions build up and both groups clash. The security forces soon are at the scene and live shots are fired. A 21-year-old East Timorese man, Manuel Marques Soares is killed by a stray bullet. Two others are injured – Candido Soares, 30 and Manuel Martins, 23. The enraged crowd [pro-independence] brings Manuel's body to Dili and the procession tries to take the corpse inside the complex of the Jakarta-appointed governor Abilio Soares.

The crowd, now, has swelled to over 10,000 and are blocked from entering by hundreds of troops who use tear gas to disperse them. Protesters throw stones at the soldiers before the crowd moves on and continue to circle the capital, shouting "killers" whenever they pass military bases.

Dili: June 28

After the first mass on Sunday, thousands make their way to the University of Timor Timur to join pro-independence protestors already assembled there since 7.00 am. Anti-Indonesia banners are displayed prominently: "Autonomy No! Referendum Yes!", "We Want Referendum and Reject Integration", "Free Xanana Gusmao."

Student leaders make arrangements to meet the EU ambassadors in Hotel Mahkota. The negotiations go on well and the students make their demands known, among which include: To demand the European Union push forward the effort of the Portuguese and the Indonesian governments, as well as the United Nations to find a fair solution to the East Timor conflict – through a referendum under the auspices of the United Nations. They also urged the release without any precondition all political prisoners both inside and outside East Timor, including the President of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao.

Around midday, thousands of anti-Indonesian protesters escort the three European ambassadors through the streets of Dili. The crowd of about 5,000, many on foot and some in trucks, forced the ambassadors' mini-bus to a crawl through the streets of Dili. The protesters, including students and local residents, shout "Referendum" and "Dead or alive, we prefer to be independent," as they followed the envoys.

Troops stood back and watched from a distance and there were no reports of violence. One banner draped on a truck said "East Timor is not part of Indonesia." Others had pictures of jailed East Timorese guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao.

Dili-Baucau: June 29

Encouraged by the turnout of the pro-independence supporters the previous day, civil servants now join the anti-Indonesia protests – completely disregarding the earlier warning that they might lose their jobs if they didn't support integration with Indonesia. It's early in the morning and there are now about 500 cars on the streets of Dili and about 1,000 motorcycles. The anti-Indonesia, pro-independence banners are displayed openly. There is a euphoric feeling [short-lived!] in Dili – reminiscent of the day independence was declared on November 28, 1975.

Word has got around that the EU ambassadors will be making their way to Baucau, 150 km from Dili, for a meeting with Bacau Bishop Basilio Nacimento. The news in Dili is that over 5,000 East Timorese, wanting referendum, have gathered outside the Bishop's residence.

The EU delegation leaves Dili about 8.00 am and at 2.00 in the afternoon the ambassadors' mini-van are on the road near Bishop Nacimento's residence. The huge crowd surges towards the van yelling "Viva Timor Leste", "We Want Referendum". The EU ambassadors manage to break through the crowd and make their way into Bishop Nacimento's residence.

The army soon is at the scene. Eight trucks with 500 Rajawali troops led by Lt Colonel Wisnu try to break up the peaceful demonstration. The crowd is agitated when they spot a van carrying plainclothes military intelligence officers. The protesters, who had been chanting slogans demanding independence for East Timor, smash the rear windscreen of the van at which point the security men opened fire into the crowd.

There's complete mayhem, now. Many in the crowd run towards Bishop Nacimento's residence. Orlando Marcelino da Costa, 35, is killed instantly. Five are seriously wounded: Sesaltinho da Costa, 19; Sejarino Jesus da Costa, 39; Aldemero Correia, 30; Dirce Elisabet do Rosario, 15; Maria Imaculada do Rosario, 17. The plainclothes military intelligence officers then drive straight into the crowd. Two are injured: Adelson Ximenes Correia, 19 and Jao da Costa, 20.

[According to a July 1 report by the Straits Times, Bishop Belo responded to the Baucau killing by calling on Indonesian troops to leave if they could not maintain order without resorting to violence. He added "My impression is, if they are not able to control the situation... let them ask the UN forces to control the situation here". On the same day the Udayana military commander (which covers East Timor), Major General Adam R Damri, was quoted by Antara as saying the military will not pull out of because its presence is still needed for "protection" and to "increase prosperity". He also said "a referendum would open up old wounds and we do not wish for any fighting between different groups". On June 29, Antara quoted Foreign Minister Ali Alitas as claiming that anti-integration protesters were in a minority at the demonstrations. Human rights organisations such as ETISC say more than 80% of East Timorese want a referendum - James Balowski.].