London (Amnesty International/Pacific Media Watch) – Dozens of individuals have been arbitrarily arrested and tortured or otherwise ill-treated by Timor-Leste security forces as part of security operations in the Baucau district. There are ongoing concerns for their safety, says Amnesty International.
The Timor-Leste security forces have carried out the arrests and ill-treatment in Laga and Baguia in Baucau district over the last few months.
These incidents have occurred as part of a series of joint security operations by the police and military to capture Mauk Moruk (Paulino Gama) and his followers.
Local human rights organisations have documented dozens of cases where individuals, accused of being followers of Mauk Moruk, were beaten and kicked repeatedly by security forces during arrest and detention.
Some had their hands and legs tied. Most were released after brief periods of detention and interrogation. Security forces also reportedly destroyed property of individuals suspected of supporting Mauk Moruk, as part of the operations, such as windows, furniture and other household items. Some also allege that food and money were stolen from their houses. Hundreds have been traumatised by these operations.
Mauk Moruk, a former independence fighter, leads the banned Maubere Revolutionary Council (KRM) and has been a strong critic of the current government. He has reportedly called for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of parliament.
Followers of Mauk Moruk allegedly carried out attacks on the police in Laga and Baguia in January and March 2015. In response, the authorities launched a number of security operations where the use of unnecessary and excessive force has been documented.