- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia The Indonesian military directed a militia campaign of killings, terror and forced deportation against East Timorese civilians, according to a new book on the 1999 atrocities.

In "A Dirty Little War," author John Martinkus says the military campaign coincided with a slick public relations effort to portray the violence as clashes between pro- and anti-independence East Timorese while the United Nations and later, international peacekeepers, refused to publicly condemn Indonesia. The book's publication in Australia comes as the United Nations-administered territory takes another step toward full independence with elections set for Aug. 30.

At the same time, trial has begun in East Timor for the first militia accused of crimes against humanity including murder, torture and deportation.

Indonesia, however, has failed to prosecute anybody for the violence in East Timor. Instead, senior military and police officers who served during the violence have been promoted. One of the most notorious militia leaders, Eurico Guterres, became an official in the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle headed by the new president, Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Mr. Martinkus, an Australian journalist, first went to Indonesian-occupied East Timor in 1994 and returned in 1995 and 1997. In late 1998, he became the only foreign reporter resident in the territory. Before long, he saw some of the first militia being trained on a military barracks in the town of Viqueque. By late January 1999, militia commanded by Mr. Guterres had emerged in the capital, Dili. When Mr. Martinkus met Mr. Guterres, he claimed he was defending people against atrocities by the pro-independence side.

"He didn't talk about his real background," writes Mr. Martinkus, who says Mr. Guterres had been recruited in the early 1990s as a leader of Gadapaksi, a black-clad ninja squad known for nighttime kidnappings of Timorese. "The militia that he now claimed to head was just the reactivated Gadapaksi network Kopassus-trained, formed and paid for."

Kopassus are the Indonesian Special Forces.

By February 1999, militia had begun holding rallies in support of integration with Indonesia. Mr. Martinkus writes that military and local government officials sat at the front of the rallies while other participants privately admitted they had been told to attend. He and Mr. Guterres flew on an Indonesian military helicopter to one of the earliest rallies, even though the East Timor military commander, Tono Suratman, claimed the militia and military had no ties.

"Yet there we all were in the helicopter together, on our way to another 'spontaneous' expression of the people's desire to remain a part of Indonesia."

By May, the first tiny contingent of U.N. personnel had arrived in East Timor to prepare for the August 1999 balloting that would give Timorese a choice between independence or autonomy. Within days of their arrival, some of the U.N. team were having dinner at a seafront restaurant when militia opened fire and began to destroy a village about 50 yards away. It was, writes Mr. Martinkus, "a show put on for the new arrivals in town."

Despite this and later intimidation of U.N. workers, the United Nations would not publicly admit that the Indonesian military was behind the militia, he says.

Mr. Martinkus obtained a document that endorsed the beating and stoning of U.N. employees. It was signed by a municipal head of government in July 1999 and assured the militia that "the Indonesian military is always behind you."

The United Nations claimed the document was a fake. More ominously, later that month, Mr. Martinkus received another document signed by an assistant to a Jakarta Cabinet minister. It hinted at the massive destruction and deportations that would later devastate the territory.

The document said that if the independence side won the balloting, East Nusa Tenggara province which adjoins East Timor must be prepared to receive huge numbers of refugees. It said the military must be "put on alert and prepared for action near the evacuation areas … and the destruction of facilities and other vital objects as the Indonesians pull out."

In September, Mr. Martinkus saw that plan in action as thousands of refugees marched toward Dili's port while the city was burned and looted. "Behind them walked soldiers with their weapons raised," he writes.

The Indonesians later claimed they were protecting the people from militia. But Mr. Martinkus says the "militia" looked remarkably like members of the military, known as TNI.

"They were just soldiers, TNI in militia dress depopulating Dili," according to the book.

Nobody knows exactly how many people died in the violence because there were no proper records, Mr. Martinkus says. Data gathered by the U.N. mission that supervised the balloting were destroyed in the rampage and never compared with records kept by international peacekeepers who arrived in September 1999. Their data were not matched with that of the U.N. police who came later.

"The lowest estimates were always quoted," he writes. "Indonesia was being let off the hook."

Mr. Martinkus questioned the Australian commander of the international peacekeeping force, Major-Gen. Peter Cosgrove, about the death toll and was told: "Look, you know as well as I do our job was not to come in here and accuse the Indonesians."

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