issue 318 - November 1999
Make your own militia
How the military did it and who knew
July 1998: Ausaid worker Lansell Taudevin tells Australian embassy officials that the Indonesian army is forming and arming militia gangs. Around 5,000 West Timorese (ethnically identical to East Timorese, though Muslim rather than Roman Catholic) are recruited into militias by the Indonesian army. More recruits are brought in from Java.
4 November 1998: 400 élite troops from Indonesia’s notorious Kopassus Group 4 unit – trained to track down and eliminate political dissidents – arrive in the port of Atapupu.
January 1999: Civil servants in East Timor are threatened in order to make them pledge their support for integration with Indonesia. Even the Governor of East Timor Abilio Osorio Soares suggests that those who support independence should leave their jobs and says their safety is not guaranteed.
February 1999: Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim, a US-trained intelligence specialist, stands down as head of the military’s intelligence agency to become the senior military adviser of the Indonesian Government’s plebiscite team in East Timor. Makarim has a reputation for callous violence in East Timor. The pro-integration militia leaders are promised logistical support, weapons and at least two million dollars.
4 March 1999: Representatives of the Australian Defence Intelligence Organization in Jakarta tell their headquarters that the military is ‘clearly protecting and in some cases operating with the militias.’ They also warn that the militias will undertake a scorched-earth campaign if the vote goes against them.
March 1999: East Timorese representative José Ramos Horta warns: ‘If the UN simply relies on the will of the Indonesian side and pushes ahead with the vote, bloodshed is almost certain because the Indonesian army will be there, the paramilitary will be there, and their interest is to disrupt the vote, to intimidate the people.’
5 May 1999: The agreement on the ‘consultation’ or referendum in East Timor is signed. The Indonesian military is to provide a ‘secure and safe’ environment for the vote.
9 June 1999: The Australian Government admits through senior defence official Hugh White that the military is supporting militia gangs.
24 July 1999: A secret six-hour meeting of militia and military leaders in Dili is held. They lay out a post-referendum plan that includes instigation of riots, targeting and assassination of independence activists and full mobilization of militias and armed forces. Makarim gives militia leader Eurico Guterres a list of 370 people to eliminate as part of a campaign of terror. All UN staff and foreign journalists are to be forced out of East Timor.
30 August 1999: The overwhelming majority – 80 per cent – of East Timorese vote for independence. Once the result is announced violence escalates.
23 September 1999: Financial Times journalist Sander Thoenes is found dead in East Timor. He is last seen being chased by soldiers. Recently he exposed a $250-million scandal at a company controlled by General Prabowo.
BD: Military and political aid to Indonesia - A collection of recent reports, articles and news