• Campaigns

Indonesia/East Timor: Fear for Safety

, Index number: ASA 21/031/1999

Amnesty International fears for the safety of several people in military or paramilitary custody since violent attacks by paramilitary units on supporters of independence in Dili, capital of East Timor, on 17 April 1999. Many others are at risk of arrest.

PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 21/31/99
UA 80/99 Fear for safety 19 April 1999
Amnesty International fears for the safety of several people in military or
paramilitary custody since violent attacks by paramilitary units on supporters
of independence in Dili, capital of East Timor, on 17 April 1999. Many others
are at risk of arrest.
Antonio Barbosa, a civil servant and pro-independence activist, is believed
to have been arrested at his home on 17 April. His whereabouts are not known.
On 19 April Jeremy De Costa, from Los Palos, was reportedly arrested in Becora,
Dili, and taken to a Sub-district Military Command (Koramil). An eyewitness
reported that he was beaten as he was being arrested. It is not clear if he
was arrested by paramilitaries or members of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI).
Eighteen men were arrested in Viqueque on 17 April by a joint paramilitary
and military team, and are now reportedly detained at the District Military
Command (Kodim) in Viqueque. They are Vitorino de Carvalho, 44, Bonifaso Soares,
25, Jose Soares, 22, Tomas Ricardo, 22, Alcino Soares Pinto, 20, Acasio Soares
Pires, 20, Marcos Soares, 16, Paulino Soares, 30, Mau Pinto, 20, Luis Soares,
20, Antonio Sarmento, 55, Rogerio Soares, 29, Jose Soares, 30, Gilberto
Pires,40, Silvino Soares,34, Mateus Soares, 18, Manuel Pires, 34 and Jacob
Pires, 30.
There are also fears for the safety of people held in “protective” police custody
since a paramilitary raid on a house in Dili. At least 12 and possibly many
more people were killed during the raid on the house of Manuel Carrascalao,
leader of Gerakan Rekonsiliasi dan Persatuan Rakyat Timor Timor (GRPRTT), the
Movement for Reconciliation and Unity of the East Timorese People. Among those
killed were his son, Manelito Carrascalao, aged 17, and Marito Caeiro. The
bodies of the 12 known victims were buried today by the military and the police.
Some 175 people were seeking refuge in the house at the time of the attack.
Half an hour before the attack, Manuel Carrascalao had visited the East Timor
Military Commander to ask for protection. His demand was ignored. The house
has been sealed off by the military authorities and remains closed to human
rights monitors and journalists.
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of those who survived the
attack. Police authorities claim that 46 people from the house are among 96
people in protective police custody. The whereabouts of others in the house
at the time of the attack remain unknown.
After the attack, Manuel Carrascalao and his daughter, Christine Carrascalao,
sought refuge in the house of Dili’s Bishop Belo. On 18 April, they left the
house and are now in protective custody at the Regional Police Headquarters
(Polda) in Dili. They were joined by a pro-independence leader from the National
Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), Leandru Issac, whose house was destroyed
by paramilitaries on 17 April. The police are believed to have agreed that
the three are being held in “protective” custody and are not under arrest.
Other pro-independence figures are known to be at risk of arrest, in particular
leaders of the CNRT, including David Ximenes and Vasco de Gama.
Human rights organizations have also been threatened, and have ceased operating
from their offices. Several human rights monitors are at risk of arrest,
including Aniceto Guterres and Ze Luis, the director and deputy director of
Yayasan Hak, Human Rights Foundation. On 19 April, the Yayasan Hak office -
previously vacated by the organization’s staff - was guarded all day by military
and members of the militias. There are also fears for Alfredo, who works with
the Justice and Peace Commission in Aileu District.
The situation in Dili, capital of East Timor, has deteriorated rapidly since
16 April with the arrival of over 1,000 members of paramilitary units in the
town. On 13 April the paramilitaries issued public threats that from 17 April
they would seek out supporters of independence. ABRI knew about the threats
but took no action to prevent paramilitary violence or protect those at risk.
On 17 April, after holding a rally in front of the East Timorese Governor’s
office, paramilitaries boarded some 36 trucks and drove in a convoy around
Dili. They then began attacking the offices and houses of known pro-independence
groups and figures, including the office of the CNRT. Most of the houses and
offices they targeted were empty, as most pro-independence leaders had already
gone into hiding. ABRI and police, present on the streets of Dili, took no
action to prevent the attacks.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Bahasa Indonesia or your own language:
- urging the authorities to prevent the arrest of pro-independence leaders
and human rights monitors by either paramilitary or military units;
- urging the authorities to ensure that those people who have been taken into
custody by military or paramilitary units are given access to legal counsel,
medical assistance and their families, and are not tortured or ill-treated;
- urging that those held for their peaceful activities are released unless
they are immediately charged with a recognisably criminal offence;
- urging the authorities to disarm and disband all paramilitary units;
- urging the authorities to take all measures to ensure that those in protective
police custody are protected from attacks by paramilitary and military units,
are not arrested and are allowed access to legal counsel, humanitarian
assistance and their families;
- urging the authorities to allow a full and impartial investigation into the
deaths in Dili since 17 April.
Gen. Wiranto
Menteri Pertahanan dan Keamanan
Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No.13-14
Jakarta 10110
Fax: + 62 21 381 4535/ 384 5178
President Jusuf Habibie
Presiden RI
Istana Negara
Jl. Veteran
Jakarta Pusat
Fax: +62 21 3281693904541/+ 62 21 526 8726 Fax: +62 21 380 5511/+62 21 345
7782/ (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
and to diplomatic representatives of Indonesia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 31 May 1999.

Choose a language to view report