Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, July 10, 1999 Published at 20:01 GMT 21:01 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Militia terror in Timor

Anti-independence militias on parade in Dili earlier this year

By Jonathan Head in East Timor

Aid agencies in East Timor say at least 60,000 people have been displaced from their homes and an even larger number are in need of humanitarian assistance because of a campaign of terror by pro-Jakarta militias.

Access to many areas has been blocked by the groups, despite assurances from the Indonesian Government that it is capable of guaranteeing security until next month's referendum on the territory's future.

East Timor
Every day the office of East Timor's largest human rights organisation is filled with anxious looking people waiting to relate their experiences at the hands of the militias.

Most have fled from their villages. Some saw their homes burnt down.

Nights of terror

They speak of nights of terror, as the often drunk paramilitaries go from house to house looking for suspected independence supporters.

[ image: Aid agencies say the paramilitaries have made at least 60,000 flee]
Aid agencies say the paramilitaries have made at least 60,000 flee
They say women are frequently raped and young men taken away, never to be seen again.

Those who found shelter in the capital Dili are lucky. In the west of the territory, tens of thousands are reported to be living in the arid Timorese bush beyond help.

The only aid convoy to get through to them was attacked by the militias last week. No others have made it through the barricaded roads which lead into the militia held areas.


Aid agencies believe that as well as the more than 60,000 people who have fled from their homes, a far larger number still living close to their villages may need assistance because they dare not sleep in their own homes or work in their fields.

The Indonesian authorities have suggested organising more aid convoys, but the agencies stressed that the situation can only improve if the government stands by its promises to control the militias.

Despite official claims that the problem is the result of clashes between pro and anti-independence groups, the agencies say nearly all the incidents of intimidation are attributed to the pro-Jakarta paramilitaries.

By next Tuesday the United Nations must decide whether to delay the referendum for a second time because of the lack of security.

Both Indonesia and the UN have ruled out a peace-keeping force for East Timor.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

07 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Security is the key

06 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Emergency UN mission to Indonesia

05 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia condemns East Timor attack

Internet Links


Indonesian Government

BBC Indonesian Service

East Timor Action Network

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Indonesia rules out Aceh independence

DiCaprio film trial begins

Millennium sect heads for the hills

Uzbekistan voices security concerns

From Business
Chinese imports boost US trade gap

ICRC visits twelve Burmese jails

Falintil guerillas challenge East Timor peackeepers

Malaysian candidates named

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Holbrooke to arrive in Indonesia

China warns US over Falun Gong

Thais hand back Cambodian antiques