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ABC:Secret Kopassus-militia meetings plan violence

TRANSCRIPT FROM: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Transcript Begins

05/09/99
7:30 News with Kerry O'Brien

Kerry O'Brien talks with an East Timorese activist who says he has details of secret meetings between the Indonesian military and pro-Jakarta militia to plan a new wave of violence.

Indonesian military planning more East Timor violence, says activist

KERRY O'BRIEN: Indonesia's Defence Minister, General Wiranto, whose own credibility is on the line, has ordered another 1,400 troops into East Timor to restore order.

But independence activists say it's the military who've been sanctioning the violence.

Abel Guterres, from the East Timorese Relief Association, and Father John Herd, from the Catholic Overseas Aid Agency, have just returned from East Timor where Mr Guterres says he was given intelligence reports of meetings between the Indonesian military and pro-Indonesian militia leaders to organise a new wave of violence.

I spoke with both men in our Melbourne studio a short while ago.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Abel Guterres, you say that you're privy to information relating to at least two meetings this week involving the Indonesian military, the Indonesian police on East Timor and, in one of those meetings, the militia.

Now, what do you say you have learnt from those meetings?

ABEL GUTERRES: The first meeting that took place on Tuesday was between the commanders of the Kopassus with the militia leaders, and that's when the military presented a broad plan of the rampage that's supposed to take place from now on.

The second one, which was today, following that major meeting, that big meeting, was that the military is going to allow the militias to carry on the killings and ensure that the police and the military watch from the background.

Now, one very important factor here is that they specifically gave orders that any militias who do not take out action will be shot, and I think this is very disturbing, and which is confirmed in the reports that we've received because some of the militias are very concerned and worried for their own safety and also of their own families because once the military go on a rampage behind them and then the military don't know who the families of the militias are, so they are very, very concerned as well as the rest of the civilian population.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So how do you know this information?

How have you been able to get access to what happened at those meetings?

ABEL GUTERRES: We have our own intelligence reports, our own network, around East Timor which are constantly giving us the update report of what's happening on the ground as well as the Indonesian communications system.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So is that just a blanket order?

Do you have any information in terms of dates, in terms of places?

ABEL GUTERRES: Well, in fact, the plan has already started because the exits and entrances to Dili from all sides are blockaded by the militia now, and also in Dili the strategic points are being manned by the militias to control the people's movement.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And it doesn't surprise you then, I suppose, that all UN personnel have been forced to leave Maliana as a result of militia activity there?

ABEL GUTERRES: That's correct.

I think, Kerry, I need to really emphasise here that the militia are not a different group or an isolated group.

They are part and parcel of the Indonesian military system. Everything that the military does, that's when the militias will carry that out.

I really want to appeal to Australia and international community that 24 years of killing is enough and this is the time where Australia can take an honourable role to bring peace to East Timor, which is get the peacekeeping force into East Timor to stop the carnage.

I think one important factor also is that Indonesia allow the militias to carry guns when our leader Xanana Gusmao was charged by possessing the weapons.

So here again clearly the Indonesian military is violating its own laws, and yet international community and Australian Government is still allowing this to take place.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Father Herd, do you have any solid corroboration of what Abel Guterres is alleging?

FATHER JOHN HERD, CARITAS AUSTRALIA: Well, Kerry, I'm just aware that the resistance military has been very disciplined in the whole time up until now.

They have refrained from taking any action against the military, against the militia or the military.

I'm aware that there is intelligence which is gathered through the resistance and it seems to be, from all accounts, to be accurate.

There are blockades, of course, on Dili and it seems as though the militia are taking control.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The vote result is to be announced tomorrow now.

What impact do you expect that to have if, as is anticipated, it will show a strong vote in favour of independence?

FATHER JOHN HERD: I think there's widespread fear throughout East Timor that that will be a time when there will be a lot of bloodshed.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Does it concern you that the extent to which international journalists are leaving?

FATHER JOHN HERD: I think it's appalling that international journalists are intimidated.

It's bad enough that the ordinary East Timorese people are intimidated, but to have international journalists fear for their own safety and they need to depart, I think it's absolutely appalling.

I fear even more for the East Timorese people if the journalists leave.

They're really the window, the communication to the outside world, the protection in so many ways for the East Timorese people.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Given that what seems to be the motivation behind this systematic pattern of brutality that's been taking place in recent months is to intimidate East Timorese, to what extent from your six weeks-from the most recent six weeks that you've been there-to what extent has that operation succeeded in intimidating ordinary East Timorese?

FATHER JOHN HERD: Of course, I think there was footage shown here in Australia of the voting day last Monday, when so many Timorese people turned out to vote.

98.6 per cent of those who registered turned out to vote and they did so with great courage and determination.

If that vote is overwhelmingly in favour of independence, I think that there is a strong call to the international community for assistance.

I think that it has shown that they refuse to be intimidated, but they do call for help.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Abel Guterres, General Wiranto announced in Jakarta this afternoon that he was sending in an extra 1,400 troops-military troops, not police-to assist to restore control in East Timor.

Does that hearten you at all?

ABEL GUTERRES: Well, Kerry, that is to add to the number of the military on the ground when the rampage takes place and they're there to do the job and they're not there to protect the East Timorese as such.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But you have such a strong contingent of UN personnel to observe the situation and still some foreign journalists.

Surely they wouldn't be that blatant?

ABEL GUTERRES: Well, Kerry, haven't they done that in the past few days?

I think they are prepared for real revenge on the East Timorese population for voting for their own right to a free and independent country.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You talk about "clean sweeps".

What do you mean by "clean sweep"?

ABEL GUTERRES: Clean sweeps means that they will go through all the major suburbs that are strongholds of the independence movement, which means that they'll go in through the villages and shoot in an uncontrolled manner with machine-guns and so forth.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Have you seen the reports that the Indonesian Government has prepared plans to evacuate as many as 250,000 East Timorese from the island if control cannot be restored?

ABEL GUTERRES: That's right, Kerry.

This is why the military are there and the military are part of these terrorising activities.

The only one thing that we need now in East Timor is the international peacekeeping force to stand between the Indonesian military and defending the East Timorese population, defenceless people.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Father Herd and Abel Guterres, thank you both very much for talking with us.

FATHER JOHN HERD: Thank you, Kerry.

ABEL GUTERRES: Thank you, Kerry.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And we have made several efforts to seek interviews with representatives of the Indonesian Government, including the office of the president, the foreign minister and the ambassador here in Australia.

We've been unsuccessful.

TRANSCRIPT ENDS

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