APSN Banner

Update on paramilitary violence

Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission - February 23, 1999

[The following is a translation by US based human rights activist, John Rossa, of reports from the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission in Dili, East Timor.]

On February 19, 1999, the pro-integration group held a rally in Balibo. It was led by Joao Tavares, former Bupati of Bobonaro for two terms and leader of the para-military squad, Halilintar, and by the Area Leadership Conference (Muspida) of Bobonaro to popularize the autonomy plan.

On February 21, 1999, the Halilintar squad arrested and brutalized some residents of the town of Atabae as they were returning home from church and shopping in the bazaar. At least six of the victims have been indentified. They are all from the Bobonaro district:

  1. David, 20s, student at U. of East Timor, from Raerobo village
  2. Amandio, 30s, farmer, from Raerobo village
  3. Jose, 20s, student at U. of ET, from Aidabalete village
  4. Mau-Ato, 20s, farmer, from Aidabalete village
  5. Andre Guterres, 15, farmer, from Raerobo village
  6. Pedro, 20s, farmer, from Raerobo village
These six individuals were arrested and beaten with batons until they were black and blue. Based on eyewitness reports, the victims were taken to the local army headquarters (the Koramil of Atabae) after being beaten. As of now, there is no knowledge of the what has happened to these six men taken into army custody.

After the attack and arrest, the Halilintar squad, armed with automatic weapons, began patrolling at night in Atabae and its environs.

On February 21, members of the Besi Merah Putih, which is operating throughout the Liquica district, returned to action by checking travelers on the roads in their region. They were searching for anyone appearing to be a pro-independence activist.

On February 22, at midnight members of Besi Merah attacked Guico village, Maubara sub district, Liquica district. The residents defended themselves. Three members of Besi Merah were killed and five others were seriously injured. The identities of the injured are not yet known but a joint team of Yayasan HAK, Lustitia et Pax, and Caritas has been sent to investigate the incident. The security forces intervened in the conflict to defend the Besi Merah Putih squad.

It is confirmed that 18 people were arrested by security forces in Vatuvou village in Liquica district. Two people challenged the security officials who supported Besi Merah Putih. The security officials agreed to put down their arms and to fight with their bare hands. One of the two men then seized a weapon and six magazines of bullets. He ran away from the scene of fighting and his whereabouts are unknown as of this time. The other man was arrested and brutalized. He is now in the Liquica police station along with 17 other detainees.

The following names are 18 men who are still in detention. All of them are from villages in Maubara sub-district, Liquica District:

  1. Amancio Pinto, 27 years, Kampung Boravei, Vatuvou village
  2. Jose Soares, 25 years, Kampung Lissa-Lara, Vatuvou village
  3. Domingos dos Santos, 20 years, Kampung Lissa-lara, Vatuvou village
  4. Manuel Soares, 22 years, Kampung Boravei, Vatuvou village
  5. Joao Soares, 25 years, Kampung Lissa-Lara, Vatuvou village
  6. Andre Serrao, 22 years, Kampung Kaikassa, Vatuvou village
  7. Daniel Crisno, 24 years, Kampung Lebuhae, Lissa-Dilla village
  8. Saturnino de Oliveira, 18 years, Kampung Lebuhae, Lissa-Dilla village
  9. Joanico Olieveira, 19 years, Kampung Lebuhae, Lissa-Dilla village
  10. Claudino Soares, 20 years, Kampung Lebuhae, Lissa-Dilla village
  11. Armindo da Costa, 18 years, Kampung Manu-Kbia, Lissa-Dilla village
  12. Manuel de Oliveira, 27 years, peasant, Kampung Lebuhae, Lissa-Dilla village
  13. Eduardo, 25 years, peasant, Kampung Kaikasa, desa Lissa-Dilla village 14. Umberto Afonso, 18 years, peasant, Kampung Kaikasa, Lissa-Dilla village
  14. Alfredo Sanches, 20 years, peasant, Kampung Lebuhae, Lissa-Dilla village
  15. Joao da Silva, 23 years, peasant, Kampung Ulunana, Transmigration area
  16. Jose Mendes, 27 years, peasant, Kampung Boravei, Vatuvou village
  17. Florindo da Silva Nunes, 25 years, peasant, Kampung Lissa-lara, Vatuvou village
[Note on Florindo da Silva Nunes: According to his family's report both his hands and face were slashed by the police officials. There is no access for lawyers to visit him. Only family members are allowed to meet him.]