04 April 2009

The 1999 Liquica Atrocity - Blood on their hands

3 April 2009 SMH - A decade after a massacre intended to blunt East Timor's demands for independence, Lindsay Murdoch finds that the appetite for justice continues unabated.

We confronted the mass murderer as his men hosed blood from his balcony; Leoneto Martins angrily denied the massacre in the East Timorese town where he was Indonesia's appointed mayor.

Before suggesting it was unsafe for myself and three other journalists to remain in Liquica, a seaside town of 55,000 people 30 kilometres west of the capital Dili, Martins dismissed our questions by claiming clashes between rival groups had resulted in five deaths. We suspected he was lying.

Shops and markets were closed and the usually busy streets were largely deserted, except for menacing groups of men wearing bandanas and ribbons in the red and white of Indonesia's flag. Wide-eyed terror in the faces of women searching for family members confirmed the presence of something terrible.

But on that stifling April 6 early morning 10 years ago the extent and brutality of what the world would come to know as the Liquica Massacre - the slaughter of between 30 and 100, probably 86, innocent East Timorese in the quaint Sao Joao de Brito church - was not immediately evident. Liquica was the first of many attacks across East Timor that left about 1500 people dead and thousands more raped, maimed or wounded. Read the full report...

Image added by ETLJB

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