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East Timor: Fear of torture

, Index number: ASA 21/043/1997

Jose Antonio Belo, Guilherme dos Santos, Manuel, one other (name unknown); David Alex: There are fears for the safety of the first four men named above who were arrested after an alleged confrontation between the armed forces and the East Timorese armed resistance, Falintil, in Kaibada on 25 June 1997. On 26 June the military made an announcement that David Alex, the second-in-command of Falintil, had died as a result of wounds received during the confrontation. The whereabouts of the four men is not known and there is concern that they may be at risk of torture and ill-treatment.

EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 21/43/97
UA 189/97 Fear of torture 26 June 1997
EAST TIMORJose Antonio Belo
Guilherme dos Santos
One other - name not known
David Alex
Amnesty International fears for the safety of four men arrested after an alleged
confrontation between the Indonesian Armed Forces and the East Timorese Armed
Resistance, Falintil, in Kaibada, close to the East Timorese town of Baucau.
All four detainees are believed to be at serious risk of torture and
ill-treatment, which is common in both police and military custody in East
Timor. They should be granted immediate access to independent lawyers, their
families and medical personnel.
The four, Jose Antonio Belo, Guilherme dos Santos, Manuel and one unnamed man,
were arrested by members of the Indonesian military on the morning of 25 June
1997, together with armed resistance leader David Alex. Although some reports
state that the five were taken into custody during a military confrontation,
the precise circumstances of the arrests, and the details of any military
confrontation which may have occurred, remain unclear. On 26 June, the military
made an announcement claiming that David Alex had died as a result of wounds
sustained during the confrontation (see below).
The whereabouts of the other four men is not clear. One source has claimed
that Jose Antonio Belo, Manuel and the unnamed man are being held in military
custody in Baucau. Sources claim that the three were not armed at the time
of their arrest, although Amnesty International is unable to confirm this.
It is believed that Guilherme dos Santos may have been taken to Dili.
Jose Antonio Belo was imprisoned for his peaceful activities in support of
East Timorese independence in 1995 and sentenced to 18 months in prison. During
his interrogation, and at times while he served his prison sentence, he was
subjected to torture and ill-treatment. He was released from prison in 1996
(see UA 05/95, ASA 21/06/95, 11 January 1995 and update ASA 21/13/96, 12 February
David Alex, 44, the second-in-command of Falintil with responsibility for the
armed resistance’s operations form Baucau to Viqueque, had been accused by
the military of planning recent attacks on military targets around the Baucau
area. Amnesty International is concerned that the military have not yet provided
full information about how David Alex died and that the information that they
have provided has been inconsistent. According to one military source David
Alex was shot twice in the leg during the confrontation and died on the night
of 25 June as he was receiving treatment at a hospital in Dili. Another military
source, however, was quoted by Agence France Press as saying that David Alex
died in a helicopter as he was being transported from Baucau to Dili. Concern
about how David Alex died has been heightened by the news that he has already
been buried in Dili. It is believed that his family is currently attempting
to negotiate with the military for the return of the body.
Since late May, there has been an increase in attacks by Falintil against
military and civilian targets. At least 42 people, including civilians, members
of the armed forces, the police force and Falantil, have been killed during
the attacks.
Amnesty International condemns the attacks on civilians by Falantil and calls
on it to abide by international humanitarian standards. The organization is
also concerned that retaliation by the Indonesian security forces may result
in further human rights violations, in particular that arrests will be conducted
outside of Indonesia’s domestic procedures and international obligations.
There are now believed to be at least 71 people in custody in Dili. It is not
known precisely how many others remain in custody in other areas of the
Torture or ill-treatment of political detainees in East Timor in both police
or military custody is routine. The risk is particularly high during
interrogation when detainees are frequently denied access to legal counsel
and to their families. In addition, restrictions are placed by the Indonesian
authorities on access to East Timor for independent human rights monitors.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/express/airmail letters in English
or Bahasa Indonesia or your own language:
- seeking assurances that none of the four detainees will be subjected to
ill-treatment or torture and that they will be given immediate and continuing
access to medical care, to members of their families and to independent legal
- urging the authorities to clarify the whereabouts of all four detainees and
to provide information on the identity of the unnamed individual;
- urging the authorities to provide information on the precise circumstances
surrounding the arrest of the four men, the precise charges against them and
the circumstances surrounding the death of David Alex.
Commander Resort Military Command (KOREM)
164/Wiradharma (covers East Timor)
Col. Slamat Sidabutar
Markas KOREM 164/Wiradharma
East Timor (Indonesia)
Telegrams: Col Sidabutar, Markas KOREM, Dili, East Timor
Salutation: Dear Col Slamat Sidabutar
Commander of Special Forces Command
Major General Prabowo
Panglima Kopassus
Markas Besar ABRI
Jakarta Timur
Telegrams: Panglima Kopassus, Markas Besar ABRI, Jakarta, Indonesia
Salutations: Dear Major General Prabowa
National Commission on Human Rights
Komisi Nasional Hak Asazi Manusia (Komnas HAM)
Alex Refialy SH
Jalan Dr Antonio de Carvelho
Dili, East Timor
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 6 August 1997.

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