Wednesday, September 26, 2007

East Timor Blames Indonesia

As well he should blame them.

E.Timor ex-militia chief blames Indonesia for 1999 mayhem

Indonesia was responsible for the bloodshed surrounding East Timor's independence vote in 1999, a former pro-Jakarta militia chief told a commission set up to investigate the violence at a hearing on Wednesday. Pro-Indonesian militiamen went on a violent rampage before and after the U.N.-sponsored vote that ended 24 years of Jakarta rule in the former Portuguese colony.

The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), which was set up by Indonesia and East Timor to promote reconciliation between the two neighbours, is holding a final round of hearings this week in East Timor to try to establish the truth about the bloodshed.

Jhony Marques, who was sentenced to 33 years in prison by an East Timor court, said that Indonesia's president at the time, B.J. Habibie, and his chief security minister General Feisal Tanjung should be held responsible for the violence.

"All policies were made by the central government and the military chief in Jakarta," Marques, who led the Alfa militia group, told the commission.

"So the authorities, especially the Indonesian president and Menkopolkam (chief security minister), must be responsible for the murder in East Timor," he said. "It is not fair if we face justice but the key persons that I mentioned are free."

Marques said he ordered his men to attack a convoy of nuns and a priest in Lospalos district in 1999 and admitted that he was on drugs at the time.

Eight people were killed and 300 women were sexually assaulted in separate attacks by his men and other militiamen, he said.

On Tuesday, a former district chief told the commission that before the vote he had been asked by two retired Indonesian generals who were cabinet ministers in 1999 to set up a militia to defend integration.

"We were invited by Minister of Information Yunus Yosfiah and he told us that Indonesia would give funds and weapons to those who supported integration," Tomas Gonsalves said.

He also alleged that then-transmigration minister, Abdullah Hendropriyono, who later became the chief of the national intelligence agency, offered money from his ministry to fund the creation of a militia group.

The United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese were killed when pro-Indonesia militias went on a rampage before and after the territory voted to break away from Jakarta rule.

Indonesian officials have told the commission that only about 100 people were killed. The militias, backed by members of the Indonesian army, also destroyed most of East Timor's infrastructure.

Critics say the commission is toothless because it lacks the power to punish those found responsible for abuses.

Predominantly Catholic East Timor became fully independent in May 2002 after 2 years of U.N. administration that followed 24 years of Indonesian occupation.