The wife of President Xanana Gusmão, East Timor’s President of the CNRT-CN, will travel to Geneva tomorrow with the Aunt of Ms Juliana dos Santos, the 15 year old East Timorese girl brutally kidnapped and held since 1999. Together they will attend a conference organised by UNHCR on Gender Based Violence and make a statement to the Human Rights Commission to express their deep concern over the lack of progress in the case.
At the height of the militia led violence which followed East Timor´s Popular Consultation of August 1999, Ms dos Santos watched as her brother was murdered by Vice Commander of the LAKSAUR militia group, Igidio Manek. The Suai massacre of September 6, 1999, left some 200 East Timorese dead. One eyewitness to the Suai killings claims that it was Igidio Manek who gave the order to kill local priests and nuns, including the popular Father Hilario.
Following the murder of a large group of men in Suai Juliana and her Aunt, Mrs Domingas Santa Mouzinho, were taking refuge in Father Hilario’s house. Igidio Manek seized Juliana and proclaimed “This is the one I want to be my wife”. When the women resisted Manek fired a shot into the air and took Juliana away. Later the same day Manek took Juliana to her mother and Aunt, and in front of them placed his a gold chain around her neck stating “now she is officially my wife”. This was the last the family saw of her.
Juliana was then taken by Manek and his militia men across the border into West Timor. After being paraded as a war trophy, she was repeatedly raped and fell pregnant. She gave birth to a son, Carlos, on 27 November, 2000. Ms Sword Gusmão has personally taken up Juliana’s case since giving birth to her own son, Alexandre, on 30 September last year.
Ms Sword Gusmão and her family believe that Juliana must be considered a kidnapped person, and as a minor, her case merits special attention. They hope their Geneva visit will increase pressure for assurances to be honored by the Indonesian Government and military made to a UN Security Council delegation to reunite Juliana with her family. Also on commitments made at a UN Joint Border Committee meeting held in Bali in January for Juliana dos Santos and her baby to be placed in a safe environment to make her own free choice.
They also hope that if Juliana can be returned
it will offer a glimmer of hope to other women, their families and communities
and believe that other East Timorese women being held in West Timor by
militias in similar circumstances must also be returned.
All media are invited to farewell the delegation at Dili Airport Friday 24 March at 9.30am where Mrs Sword Gusmao and Mrs Domingas Santa Mouzinho will be available for comment.
English Ms Sarah Niner 0417 357 298
Tetun/Portuguese Lurdes Bessa 0417 834 709
National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT)
The CNRT was established as the peak body of the East Timorese people's resistance to the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Its members are drawn from all walks of life and political viewpoints, including the major political parties. Now that Indonesia has left and the administration of East Timor is being taken over by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), CNRT is restructuring itself to play a new role. This involves moving from opposition to proposition and the facilitation of transition to self-government and independence. See: Nov 1999 The CNRT in Transition & Aug 2000 CNRT National Congress: Draft resolution on human rights
Email Ines Almeida: email@example.com Homepage: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~cnrt
Feb 23 ST: Rape in ETimor, Gusmao's wife criticizes Indonesia News form West Timor
22 2000 IHT: A Family in East Timor Grieves for a Daughter for background
to the story above.
"Juliana was one of several hundred people sheltering in the grounds of Ave Maria Roman Catholic church in Suai when it was attacked by Indonesian security forces and their Laksaur militia proxies in an unprovoked assault on Sept. 6, 1999, that left as many as 200 people dead, including three priests. ... The Indonesian government's human rights watchdog, Komnas HAM ... described what happened at the Suai church as indiscriminate killing, with the victims including men, women and children, aged between 5 and 40. In the chaos that followed the worst recorded atrocity after the UN-organized self-determination plebiscite in East Timor, Juliana was separated from her mother and taken to the district military headquarters. It was there that the Laksaur militia deputy leader, Igidio Mnanek, seized the young girl and proclaimed her as his "war prize." " Mark Dodd
7 2000 CapT: Village Women of East Timor have great hope
"Nearly everyone in Ainaro was forced from their homes following the referendum. Many fled to the mountains while others were coerced into refugee camps in Indonesian West Timor. Those who fled took no more than the clothes on their backs, blankets, tarps and cooking pots. In Ainaro, militia members looted and burned, leaving nothing behind. Women were specifically targeted in many ways -- they were separated from husbands and sons, harassed and often raped. In the refugee camps -- which are mostly populated by women and children -- living conditions are terrible, with food shortages, poor sanitation and rampant disease." Jen Laakso