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Postelection Statement on East Timor Elections, Sept. 13, 1999
13 Sep 1999


The Carter Center is encouraged by the decision of the Indonesian government to allow the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in East Timor. However, the Indonesian military and police, with the assistance of their militia surrogates, continue to murder and terrorize the people of East Timor, destroying buildings and infrastructure and forcibly expelling tens of thousands of unarmed civilians from the territory.

The city of Dili, the capital of East Timor, has been almost completely destroyed over the past week, and reports from other parts of the territory indicate widespread destruction, looting, and murder. It is clear that the Indonesian armed forces are executing a deliberate, planned campaign under the direction of senior military commanders to destroy and forcibly depopulate East Timor.


In West Timor armed pro-integration militias are now operating with official support, openly terrorizing the more than 100,000 East Timorese refugees who have been forced over the border. Those displaced by the violence, both in East Timor and West Timor, now face the threat of malnutrition and disease as domestic and international humanitarian efforts are hampered by militia and military activity and Indonesian government efforts to block access to refugee camps.

Carter Center staff and observers, forced at gunpoint to evacuate Dili Sept. 5 and now reporting from several locations throughout Indonesia, have confirmed the following through eyewitness accounts from reliable sources:

  • Refugees fleeing East Timor have been subject to extreme intimidation and acts of violence. The Carter Center has confirmed that pro-integration militia members murdered approximately 35 young men traveling on the Dobon Solo ferry from Dili to Kupang on Tuesday, Sept. 7, and dumped their bodies overboard.

  • In the attack at Bishop Belo's compound last week, militiamen hacked to death with machetes some 40 refugees in the courtyard while TNI soldiers fired into the bishop's residence from the street. A military ambulance later came and removed all but two of the bodies.

  • In an Indonesian television interview, Rui Lopez, a militia leader, admitted that Indonesian civilian police and military officials in Suai, East Timor, held a meeting before announcement of balloting results and were given instructions to attack UNAMET offices, burn the town of Suai, and drive the population into West Timor.

  • There are now more than 100,000 refugees from East Timor in West Timor and on the islands of Flores and Alor, and estimates of the total number of people displaced from the territory range from 120,000 to 200,000 (nearly one-fourth of the entire population). Refugees have been transported by Indonesian military ships and aircraft to a number of locations within Indonesia, including Irian Jaya, Ambon, Sulawesi, Surabaya, and Bali, some of which are thousands of kilometers from East Timor.

  • Pro-integration militias are now active throughout West Timor, particularly in the towns of Atambua and Kupang. Eyewitnesses report that militia members have entered refugee camps with lists of names of supporters of independence, and that a number of individuals have been removed from camps or executed in the camps by militiamen. Militia members armed with automatic weapons also have been seen stopping and searching vehicles in central Kupang and driving looted UNAMET vehicles in and out of the provincial police headquarters.

  • The Indonesian military and police have prevented international aid workers, journalists, and observers from visiting refugee camps in West Timor and from interviewing Timorese refugees.

  • Eyewitnesses report that the Indonesian military and police have joined in the looting and destruction of Dili. Indonesian soldiers and police officers have frequently sold looted food and other basic necessities to refugees under their control at exorbitant prices.

  • It is now apparent that militia violence has been targeted at political, social, and religious leaders, and a number of priests and nuns have been murdered during militia and military attacks on churches sheltering those seeking refuge from the violence.

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