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Eyewitness Diary From East Timor II: "They Thought Help Was Coming"

Part I of Eyewitness Diary From East Timor
[Editor's Note: For the last three weeks, every dawn in East Timor has brought new unimaginable horrors.

Wielding the machine gun, machete, and club were the militias who opposed East Timor's independence from Indonesia in last month's election. As the madness heightened every day, the Indonesian army troops joined the slaughter of the East Timorese.

As we noted last week, these horrors have been tucked into the corners of the front or inside pages of the U.S. press, dryly chronicled as if these were all just diplomatic matters. But in much of the rest of the world, the genocide in East Timor is headline news. Daily new reports appear from journalists risking their lives to document the slaughter of the Timorese people -- reports almost entirely ignored outside of Asia or Europe.

Begin with Part I of Eyewitness Diary From East Timor, which has a NEXT link at the bottom that leads to this collections of vignettes culled from dozens of non-U.S. news sources that appeared between September 8 to 14. There is some overlap below of stories from Sept. 7 and 8 that were published on the Internet later.]

Tuesday, September 7
The only photograph out of East Timor today portrays a toddler crying within the none-too-safe confines of Dili's UN compound. There are many images depicted verbally by eyewitnesses -- severed heads mounted on sticks, mutilated corpses lining the roadsides. The accounts are ghastly and explicit and many papers in the region chose not to print them. This on a day that nearly every front page in Asia led with East Timor. That the Jakarta Post self-censored is not surprising, but the Asian Wall Street Journal also omits the gory details.

-- Maureen Tkacik, Asiaweek Daily News

Wednesday, September 8
Men are going missing At the docks, ships -- which have been arriving and leaving for two days -- are reported to be taking the East Timorese hundreds of miles away to such distant Indonesian points as Irian Jaya, Ambon and Surabaya, and into West Timor, which has always been part of Indonesia. Crammed trucks are also carrying them from Dili to the west, with soldiers riding shotgun on the vehicles.

Many of those boarding ships or being put on trucks by the soldiers are women and children, raising the disturbing question of what has happened to the men.

-- John Martinkus, The Guardian [UK]

This morning, an American journalist who is half Puerto Rican and passes as a Javanese did a very -- some would say stupid, but others say brave thing.

He put on an Indonesian police T-shirt and walked straight out of the front gate and into town for two hours.

What he witnessed within 50 meters of the compound was TNI [the Indonesian army] soldiers from the same unit that are supposedly protecting our compound -- which main preoccupation seems to be to shoot over our head -- looting televisions and other furniture and other belongings from the neighbouring houses.

Further into town, he heard what sounded like machine guns, short bursts of machine gun fire being shot inside houses as militias and military went through houses, indicating they were going in and shooting the occupants and moving on to the next place before destroying houses of pro-independence people.

-- John Martinkus, Australian Broadcasting Corp. report

[Paul Toon, an evacuated Catholic aid worker fled East Timor on Sept. 6.] "I was being told by ordinary East Timorese people of men and women being decapitated and their heads placed on sticks beside the road," he said.

Women and children were being separated from men in the communities and systematically terrorized, Mr. Toon said.

Villagers had told of men being marched to the waterfront and gunned down -- out of view of observers who were trapped inside safe houses in Dili.

He said rumors were also strong that East Timorese were being marched to killing fields in West Timor.

"This has been a planned military operation," he said. "The attacks started with single gun shots and within two days we could hear machine gun fire and grenade attacks on the United Nations' compounds.

"The militia do not have those sort of weapons. They were either in the hands of the Indonesian military or given to the militia," he said.

-- Ainsley Pavey, The Australian

Speaking after his evacuation to Darwin, the head of the Red Cross in Dili, Mr. Jean Luc Metzker, said that on Monday morning militia men armed with automatic weapons broke into the Red Cross compound where 2,000 people, including children as young as two-day-old babies, were sheltering.

They were backed by Indonesian police, who surrounded the compound's perimeter so people could not flee, and by Indonesian Army units who pulled up in army trucks to help transport the refugees away.

They fired into the windows of the Red Cross compound, over the heads of the thousands of terrified people including another 3,000 sheltering in Catholic Archbishop Carlos Belo's compound next door.

An Irish freelance journalist, Mr. Sean Steele, watching from a nearby hotel roof, told the Herald that Indonesian Army officers were directing the militias, yelling: "Go on, attack them, attack them, they support independence."

Mr. Metzker, a Swiss national, said: "It was an incredible feeling of panic among the 2,000 people. They were shooting in the air, shooting at the buildings, then they shot over the heads of the people.

"Then they started smashing the windows, making a lot of noise and creating a feeling of terrible panic."

-- Bernard Lagan, Sydney Morning Herald

[Major John Petrie, a British military police officer stationed at the UN:] "We had to get out today. We would have been killed had we stayed. That was their message."

The incident started yesterday morning when a crowd of special police appeared outside and began to fire shots. "We closed all the doors and barred all the windows," the major said.

"Then the shots started coming into the building itself and everybody kept as close to the walls as possible so that shots coming through the windows were going over our heads. If anybody had been standing up or sitting up, they could have been hit. After we'd been there for two hours the Indonesian armed forces provided security around the compound and gave us an escort to the airport.

"There's an orchestrated campaign by a combination of police, militia and the armed forces to force out UNAMET [the UN mission] from that area. Their aim was to get rid of us."

-- Barbie Dutter, Daily Telegraph [London]

Thursday, September 9
Sydney [Australia] nun Libby Rogerson has worked in some of the world's most dangerous hotspots, but nothing has come close to the terror she felt two days ago in Dili.

"I've never been to anything so terrible . . . there's naked fear everywhere," said the 55-year-old nun, who arrived in Sydney yesterday after fleeing the violence on Monday.

In the days before she left, Sister Rogerson said Dili had become a "ghost town" with streets devoid of life "except for these incredibly thundering trucks of the militia and the military that thunder up and down, day and night."

"The night before I left, the guns started at seven o'clock when we were eating dinner and they did not stop all night, just militia trucks thundering up and down, half-baked kids with guns firing them off into the air," she said.

-- David Tanner, The Australian

Before the pullout by UNAMET became a reality yesterday, refugees at the compound implored the United Nations to send in a peacekeeping force.

"Our lives are the responsibility of UNAMET, otherwise we die," said Manuel da Silva, 37, who has been here since September 1 with four members of his family. "If they are not responsible for our lives, we don't know what will happen to us. Maybe we will die. UNAMET should work very hard to cooperate with the UN in America to send troops as soon as possible to save our lives."

Some of the young men in the camp had already given up hope that UNAMET could do anything for them. Two days ago, a group approached a UNAMET official to ask him if he thought they should try to escape to the hills. "It is the least ugly of your options," the official said.

-- Joanna Jolly, South China Morning Post

[Heather Patterson:] I've walked around the [UNAMET compound since the order for evacuation] has broken and I have to say that I've had to cry with these people. Mothers clutching their babies are in tears. They fear for, not only their lives, but the future of East Timor...

[David Wimhurst:] It's certainly devastated. The downtown core has been burnt, looted, pillaged. One of the largest banks has been burnt down. The radio station has been burnt. The university has been burnt. Our workshop and cars of ours are going up in flames. It's just an area of total devastation.

-- Australian Broadcasting Corp.

East Timor's pro-Indonesia militias completed the destruction of the capital, Dili, yesterday and intensified their campaign of terror in many other areas across the territory.

Refugees who fled across the border to West Timor estimated that about 90 percent of the capital had been razed. "As I drove out of the city last night, I struggled to find any houses still intact," said civil servant Ricardo Ribero, who braved the overland trip through militia strongholds in the territory's western districts with 18 friends and relatives. "At least 90% have been destroyed and the militia are working on the rest."


The UN said it was investigating reports that 100 people had been massacred by militias in a church in Suai, about 60 miles south of Dili. Pamela Sexton, an American referendum monitor who has now been evacuated to Australia, described how she tried to save the victim of a militia machete attack left for dead in the streets of Suai. "[He was] sliced numerous times on either arm and stomach and I think the intestines were out. He was covered in blood and amazingly was walking."

-- John Aglionby in West Timor and Christopher Zinn in Sydney, The Guardian [UK]

Accusing the UN of fixing the referendum and attempting to colonize East Timor, Mateus Haia, the mayor of East Timor's capital, Dili, warned that any international peacekeepers sent to East Timor would be killed.

"As long as the UN does not take responsibility for the mistakes it has made and the violence that is happening now, there will never be peace," he said. "We are going to continue our armed struggle for as long as it takes. If [the UN] doesn't leave, it would be better if we just destroyed everything because it [the UN] has destroyed it all so far."

-- John Aglionby, The Guardian [UK]

The looting never stops. It's brazen now: soldiers, police and militia are stealing whatever they can carry.

Dozens of trucks full with televisions, refrigerators and other household goods are parked on the road outside Dili's military headquarters, ready to make the seven-hour dash across East Timor to the Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur.

United Nations officials who went under armed escort to Dili's wharf yesterday saw looted goods still wrapped waiting to be loaded aboard Indonesian ships. There were bikes, mattresses, coffee tables and countless other items.

"All the good stuff like televisions apparently went early," said one of six UN officials to venture outsidethe besieged UN compound. UN officials have seen soldiers on motorbikes, men driving stolen UN vehicles and military trucks loaded with goods looted from shops, offices, hotels, homes and factories.

"They intend to leave nothing behind," said one UN official.

-- Lindsay Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald

Now we see the end game in East Timor -- the total destruction of a country and its people.

The Indonesian army (TNI), the police and militias are patrolling the streets of Dili together. Nearly all foreign observers are holed up in Dili or have left so who knows what atrocities are being committed in the rest of the country? We can surely guess. People are being rounded up and shipped to distant parts of Indonesia.

Alitas is now claiming irregularities in the voting procedure, a sure step towards declaring their non-recognition of the result.

The Indonesians have cynically used the UN to bring into the open the leading pro-independence people and they have been and are being systematically hunted down and eliminated. The Indonesians are just hoping for Falantil to make a move in defense of the people to justify an even greater holocaust...

How many times must a people suffer mass slaughter of its citizens. No nation this century has had such a repetition of pain inflicted upon them. The rape of East Timor continues. Unless the world acts against these criminals forcefully and immediately it will be too late. Genocide is happening right now.

-- Press Release, ETIC Wellington, CORSO Christchurch, East Timor Action Wellington (New Zealand)

Friday, September 10
[By today, the UN compound in Dili has been under seige for a week. UN observers have abandoned outlying towns to regroup at the Dili headquarters. The situation seems to worsen by the hour, as it becomes apparent that the Indonesian military's promise to guard" is worthless.]

When Ano Loy saw five Indonesian soldiers walking towards his home in Dili, East Timor, on Monday he was sure they were going to kill him. "They were carrying guns and cans of petrol. All the houses around mine were already empty so they could only have been coming to me..."

For the previous two days -- following the announcement by the United Nations of East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence from Indonesia -- Mr. Loy (not his real name) had seen the army and the pro-Jakarta militias systematically begin the destruction of Dili.

"They had already driven thousands of people from their homes and killed many," he said. "It was my turn now. My luck had run out."

The soldiers, dressed in combat uniform, bandannas made of Indonesia's red and white flag and wearing warpaint on their faces, did not open fire. Instead they gave Mr. Loy, 48, an ultimatum.

"They said I had to leave, to go to the port or the police station, or else they would kill me and burn the house. Luckily they did not recognise me or else I am sure they would have killed me immediately."

To prove they meant business, the soldiers doused both the neighboring houses in petrol and set them alight.


His abiding memory of the journey were the boasts of one militiaman. "He said he had counted 460 unburied bodies in Dili that morning and knew of many, many more. I will never forget the gleeful look on his face."

The scene at the border at Batugade was chaos. "But this helped us as the soldiers were so overwhelmed. Once again we were just waved through."

After another three hours the convoy stopped for the night in the town of Keva. "There were people everywhere, including many, many militiamen. They were all so proud of what they had done in East Timor; how many houses they had burnt, how many people they had killed for the sake of Indonesia."

-- John Aglionby, The Guardian [UK]

The [UNAMET] compound came under seizure a short while ... siege ... a short while ago. There's -- militia have showed up, Aitarak militia. These were demanding cars. They have now stolen a UN truck, several motorcycles and a car. The security here is provided by the Indonesian military. The Indonesian Commander is under orders not to shoot the militia. He suggested giving away cars. That's obviously irrelevant.

The UN -- about 80 UN staffers have stayed behind voluntarily. They've really put their necks out here and they're defenseless. They're unarmed. There's a thousand refugees in that compound so it's an extremely dangerous situation... They're in a panic. Other UN staff are trying to calm them down. Two elderly refugees are just outside the walls of the compound and when the militia came that sort of terrified the two elderly women that were very, very badly cut up because they tried to throw themselves over the wall. There's a lot of ... there's like razor wire on top of it and they've slashed themselves up. It a, you know, it's a very difficult situation at the moment.

-- Marie Colvin, Australian Broadcasting Corp.

When news of the UN's evacuation began to filter through its Dili compound, Hunubere gave me his identification card.

Written in Portuguese, it carried his real name, a 20-year-old black and white photograph and a thumb print.

"Take this and give it to someone," he told me, as his family huddled around him weeping.

Then he gave me a list of the names of the 16 members of his family in the camp and I took photographs of each of them. I promised to pass them to the Red Cross and Amnesty International when I reached Darwin.

Walking through the groups of refugees who have settled in every available corner of the [UNAMET] compound, it was impossible for me to look them in the eye.

They still believed that UNAMET would protect them and keep them safe.

-- Joanna Jolly, South China Morning Post

For most of the tens of thousands of refugees now in West Timor, dignity is in short supply. Whether they have arrived from East Timor by land, sea or air, the welcome is the same. They are whisked off by police and soldiers to camps guarded by pro-Indonesian militiamen and dumped there for processing.

The first stage is political identification, according to Manuel, an East Timorese who was able to get into the Noelbaki camp eight miles outside Kupang. He said when people arrived their names were checked off against a list of 20,000 known pro-Jakarta supporters. If they were on it, or could demonstrate support for Indonesia, they were put to one side.

All the others were taken to another part of the camp. Here the conditions are much worse, with people squashed together with little food and water.

"Many of the men are then 'taken away for questioning,'" said Manuel. "The women have no idea what happens to their husbands. Many have not returned."

One woman said a militia camp guard told her: "You may have got your country but it will be a land full of widows."


In Australia, Jose Ramos Horta said a religious war was being carried out in East Timor. "This is a religious war against East Timor's Catholic population. Even the Bishop's house was not attacked by the Japanese during World War Two. This is the first time in 500 years that churches have been burned in Timor."

Portuguese TV news showed hundreds of desperate people fleeing to the mountains from the UNAMET compound before it was abandoned. People were reportedly intercepted by Indonesian troops and militias. "They have no strength left," said a reporter. "They have not eaten for several days. They are dehydrated and sick."

There were emotional scenes inside the compound itself. The sister of Jose Ramos Horta said: "Please ring my brother. Maybe he can help." Attempts to contact him failed. She then took her five children and two nephews to wait for Ian Martin, the UNAMET chief, outside his office: "He's got a lot of explaining to do to the Timorese people."

-- John Aglionby, The Guardian [UK]

The second wave of Indonesian killing has begun in East Timor -- refugees driven from their home with little more than the clothes they stood up in. One of my CNRT colleagues, driven into the mountains, reported to me today that the refugees are beginning to die.

His sadness and horror showed through every word. He told how people are dying of disease -- the brutal Indonesian army has forced every doctor and most nurses, except the army butchers, out of East Timor and closed virtually every hospital and clinic. They are dying of exposure -- the Indonesians has burnt their homes and their beds.

Very soon they will be dying of hunger. The Indonesians have impounded all food, cut off their access to their gardens, and killed their farm and food animals.

-- Press Release, Joao Carrascalao, National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT) (Australia)

After days of uncertainty, [U.S.] Defense Secretary, Mr. William Cohen, made the Administration's position clear that ground troops, requested by Australia in initial discussions, were ruled out.

the same time, the National Security Adviser, Mr. Sandy Berger, said that while the US cared about East Timor it also "cared about Indonesia," which was "going through one of the most extraordinary transformations in the world" towards democracy...

An Australian official said: "America has had a bit of a shock in the last 24 hours at the treatment in the media about what bastards they are."

-- Gay Alcorn, Sydney Morning Herald

Saturday, September 11

[Sister Merrilyn Lee was one of the last nuns to evacuate Dili:] "When we got back to the convent more refugees were arriving, begging to be allowed to take shelter in the small compound. By lunchtime there were 400, as well as two others from Caritas Australia who wanted to shelter on the airport side of Dili, away from UNAMET and intensive militia activity.

"At lunchtime, children were fed rice and a noodle soup and then we had the same. There was nothing to do but lie on a bed and listen to gunfire. Two of us lay on the one bed, listening to the gunfire and talking about the martyrs of East Timor.

"At 4PM there was a phone call. The militia had burned the Diocesan Centre and attacked the refugees and they were moving to the next compound, the Motael Clinic and convent. We would be next. Sister Brandolinda announced that everyone had to leave, to return to their homes which were around the convent area.

"The women with children and babies we had helped carry in just a few hours before were now being turned out into the early evening darkness. I cried with them, children I had been playing with and the crippled girl I had shared my last lollies with. They all had to go. Then, in silence we started to clean up, washing plates and spoons, sweeping floors, getting rid of any sign of occupation. A few families whose houses had been burned were bedded down in interior corridors.

"Then there was silence in the house as we sat and waited...

"The next long night of gunfire began. I sat in the inner courtyard praying for the 400 people who had so recently been in this place. I watched a plane coming in and then watched as it turned to go out. One young Sister saw it and in great excitement called me to look. She thought help was coming."

-- Sydney Morning Herald

The destruction of the capital is greater than anybody could imagine. Hundreds of houses are blackened shells. The doors of government offices are ajar. Banks, cafes, hotels, boarding houses, service stations: all burnt or trashed.

One building -- the police station -- hides one of the most shocking of many shocking stories that have emerged so far from East Timor's killing fields.

Two days ago Ina Bradridge, wife of Mr. Isa Bradridge, 45, of Ballina, walked the corridors of the station looking for a toilet.

According to Mr. Bradridge, who told her story last night after evacuation to Darwin, she happened to glance inside a large building that she knew was once used as a torture cell for political prisoners.

"My wife told me she saw bodies. Thousands of them. Stacks of bodies went up to the roof. I know it is hard to believe but it is absolutely true. My wife saw arms and legs and dripping blood."

-- Lindsay Murdoch, Sydney Morning Herald

Resistance leader and Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta said yesterday he had received reports that pro-Jakarta forces had begun attacking East Timor hillsides where unarmed civilians had taken refuge. He warned that tens of thousands of women, children and the elderly would die over the next few days.

"If they do not die of slaughter, they will die of starvation," said Mr. Ramos Horta, claiming the hills could not cope with such an influx.

He said he had received witness accounts of four truckloads of civilians being blown up on the outskirts of Dili.

Bodies were being dumped into the sea and there had been "thousands" of deaths in the Dili area alone over the past few days, he claimed.

-- Barry Porter, South China Morning Post

On Wednesday the UN compound in Baucau came under fire, forcing the staff to evacuate to the capital. It was also a day when the stakes were raised as the compounds of Bishop Belo and the International Commission for the Red Cross were attacked.

Up to 2,000 refugees in each place were forced at gunpoint out on to the streets. Many were marched by the TNI and militia down the seafront in the heat of the midday sun. The military ruled the town, and there was little movement on the streets apart from army trucks and militia gangs.

Within the UNAMET compound tempers frayed, with the combined effects of heat, fatigue and fear taking hold as the days wore on.

Up to 2,000 refugees had crammed in. Open piles of excrement grew. Flies swarmed around and children played in foetid puddles.

-- Liam Phelan, Irish Times

Sunday, September 12

It's 9AM in the compound of the United Nations Mission to East Timor (UNAMET). The evacuation of 400 UN officials, local staff and their families, as well as several journalists, has just begun. Five lorries of the Indonesian army have backed up the narrow road into the compound. In each of them are 10 soldiers with automatic rifles and heavy machine guns. This ironmongery, supposed to offer some protection against the anti-independence militias, is more menacing than reassuring.

The roll call begins. An interpreter drones out the names. The soldiers tell them to squat down beside the two or three UN officials who have led the way in an attempt to still their fears....

UN employees are deeply sickened by their inglorious retreat. They express anger and shame. British police Sergeant Phillip Cane says: "I was thinking to myself when we were going out that all I am facing is a hairy ride to the airport. They are facing death." "The mission bosses have lost their heads," sighs an Irish soldier, wiping an eye. "They don't know what kind of regime they're dealing with here."

Unprompted, an official who is staying at Dili approaches journalists in the convoy to tell them of his disarray and vent his anger. "The Indonesian army, the militias, we've known for a long time they were the same thing," he said.

-- Romain Franklin, The Observer [UK]

"I came out of Kosovo, and what I've seen in Timor is worse -- much worse," Major John Petrie, a former instructor of Australia's military police, told The Sunday Telegraph.

As they cracked open their first cold beer in a Darwin hotel yesterday, Major Petrie and fellow British soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Nigel Dransfield spoke with emotion about the chaos and destruction they had witnessed in Dili.

They had flown out of Dili with 380 United Nations staff, including East Timorese staff and their families, on Friday's last plane.

Crouched in trucks surrounded by Indonesian soldiers, the men caught only glimpses of Dili on their way to the airport. But the glimpses they caught shocked them.

"Nothing was standing, there was just a smell of smoke and militia roaming the streets taking everything," Col Dransfield said.

"You could see where families had tried to evacuate; mattresses and clothing lined up ready to take with them. But something had happened, and they'd fled."

-- Sarah Stuart, The Australian

Watching the breakfast television news from Jakarta is a good way to understand why the world is finding it so difficult to get Indonesia to understand its point of view on East Timor.

Last year, during the May disturbances which brought down President Suharto, the television journalists documented the student demonstrations and the brutal military response with quiet subversiveness, even though they were still under the effective control of a dictatorship. In the 18 months since, they have transformed themselves into one of the freest, most irreverent and diverse media in Asia.

But as soon as the topic of East Timor came up, those qualities were nowhere to be seen. The way the breakfast news tackled last week's crisis would have made President Suharto proud. There was no mention of the executions, burnings and mass deportations, supervised and carried out by the Indonesian army. Instead the official fiction was maintained -- that these were the spontaneous actions of militia men understandably outraged at a vote for independence which had been rigged by the UN. There were long lingering shots of UN, Australian and British flags being burned and stamped upon by screeching demonstrators in Jakarta, and the prevailing tone was shrill, defensive and nationalistic.

-- The Independent [London]

Monday, September 13

The nun has tears in her eyes as she tells of her last view of Suai. "We were waiting to die. All of a sudden soldiers banged on the door. They said they wanted to rescue us, but that we were not to look at the Church. I tried to see it and I saw blood seeping in front of the church's door."

The blood was that of women, children and priests massacred at the church by pro-Indonesian militias last Monday. According to another nun, Sister Mary Barudero, who witnessed the massacre, Father Dewanto was the first to die.

The militiamen lined up outside the wooden church filled with refugees and the young Indonesian Jesuit priest stepped out bravely, dressed in his clerical robes to meet the trouble.

A burst of gunfire cut him down. Father Francisco followed. The blood soaked his white robes. The militiamen waited for the senior parish priest, Father Hilario. When he did not emerge, they kicked down the door to his study and sprayed him with automatic fire.

-- Ningrum Widyastuty, Sydney Morning Herald

September 14

[By phone The London Independent interviews "Pedro," a soldier for the Armed Liberation Forces of East Timor. He is the Englist translator for his field commander, Taur Matan Ruak. As the only armed resistance in East Timor, they have withdrawn to remote parts of the jungle they refer to as "cantonments."]

It takes days to clamber up to Waimori, along dried-up rivers or through trackless jungle, but more than 5,000 people have made it to this cantonment. In the wider area under Mr. Matan Ruak's command, there are said to be 50,000 to 100,000 more. This is the dry season, when the forest shrinks back on itself and even the jungle grasses are dry and inedible. The food which the people brought with them is finished; Falintil's rations are all but used up. There is no medicine and little clean water. "There is hunger and there is disease, and the biggest problem is the kids," says Pedro. "Yesterday, they began to die." By Sunday, five babies and young children had perished in the immediate area of the cantonment. When I made my telephone call, they had yet to make the count for yesterday. "There is no food at all," says Pedro. "The terrain does not supply any food. It is terrible now, particularly for the kids and in a few hours, it will be much, much worse."

-- The Independent [London]

Pro-Jakarta militiamen in Dili and the West Timor capital, Kupang, were reported to be donning looted UN clothing and loading people on to boats and aircraft bound for unknown destinations, said [UN spokesman Brian Kelly/]

"We have reports that ships have left Dili and come back empty within hours and there's a suspicion that the people on board have been killed," he said.

The head of the East Timorese Relief Association in Australia said sources had said militias had orders to kill all males above the age of 10 in refugee camps at Atambua and Kupang in West Timor.

Reverend John Barr, the Uniting Church in Australia's spokesman on Indonesia, said: "I have spoken to people in Kupang who have been to the camps and said the militias are searching for pro-independence people.

"I asked them, 'What are they doing with the people, taking them away and killing them?' They said yes."

-- South China Morning Post


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