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Militias: the fall guys?

EAST TIMOR HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE
124 Napier St Fitzroy 3065 Australia
PO BOX 1413 Collingwood 3066 Australia
Tel: +61 3 9415 8225 Fax: +61 3 9415 8218
E-mail: ethrc@minihub.org
Chair: Bishop Hilton Deakin Director: Ana Noronha
Press Release

16 September 1999

Militias - the fall guys?

The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) has confirmed that East Timorese militia leaders believe that the Indonesian military (TNI) has plans to kill significant numbers of militia members.

It is now clear that the current violence was systematically planned and instigated over a long period. Militia members had knowledge of this preparation, and are now obvious targets for the Indonesian military as it tries to eradicate evidence that the violence was not spontaneous. Militia leaders now fear for their lives.

Earlier in the year, the ETHRC reported than men were being forced into militia groups. These include individuals with sympathy for the pro-independence cause.

The ETHRC condemns any plans to summarily execute militia members and leaders. There has already been a systematic destruction of records detailing the violence of the past 24 years. The Indonesian military must not be permitted to destroy further evidence of their systematic planning for the current gross human rights violations against the East Timorese people.

In addition, the military-backed militias are entitled to due process. The current militarisation of East and West Timor must not be used as an opportunity to kill the militias now that they have completed their role in the Indonesian military's plans. Further human rights violations are not the solution to the violence.

The ETHRC repeats its calls for: · the establishment of a war crimes tribunal; · the immediate arrest of Indonesian military, police and military-backed militia responsible for human rights violations; · immediate and unrestricted access to be allowed to all areas of East Timor for UN human rights monitors, international and local human rights organisations, in order to provide ongoing human rights monitoring, and in particular to conduct a full and impartial investigation of the recent atrocities against unarmed East Timorese civilians.

The East Timorese Human Rights Centre is the only organisation outside East Timor established to protect and promote the human rights of the East Timorese people. ETHRC has been documenting human rights violations against East Timorese people since 1995.

For more information, contact Ana Noronha, Executive Director, East Timor Human Rights Centre, on 0414 353 016.

ENDS

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