ETLJB 13 August 2009 SYDNEY The Jakarta Post reported on 12 August that the Belu Regency had demanded the Indonesian government register an official protest with the government of Timor Leste after former anti-independence militant Maternus Bele (real name Bere) was arrested by the Timor Leste police.
The former Laksaur commander, who is now secretary of Kobalima Timur district in Indonesian West Timor, was detained after he visited his sick relative and prayed at the Saui Church in Timor-Leste.
Belu Regent Joachim Lopez said the Indonesian Embassy in Dili must take firm action to free the former militant from imprisonment. "Regardless of his past background as a militant, Maternus is now an Indonesian citizen and holds a position in the regency," Joachim is reported to have said.
East Timorese authorities suspect Maternus Bere of involvement in a murder at the Suai Church after riots in 1999.
Before turning to the terrible crimes of which Maternus Bere stands accused, it is worth noting how the reporter casts her final sentence. She refers only to "a murder" at the catholic church in the western town of Suai. In fact, there was a horrifying massacre in which many dozens if not hundreds of people were murdered. She refers to "riots" in 1999. In fact, widespread and systematic human rights abuses and numerous crimes against humanity were committed in East Timor in 1999. To call them riots is not just an understatement but a deliberate attempt to distort the true dimensions of what the Indonesian state agents and its militia proxies did in 1999 afte the East Timorese people rejected autonomous governance within Indonesia at the blood-drenched referendum on 30 August 1999.
The failure of the journalist to adequately and accurately report the complete circumstances of this man's arrest by East Timorese authorities is another manifestation of the Indonesian "head in the sand" attitude towards the 24-year genocide in East Timor. And who would not seek to obfuscate the vile atrocities committed by Indonesians in East Timor. They are beyond belief in their horror. (For accounts of these crimes and abuses, go to 1999 East Timor Crimes Against Humanity)
The reported response from the local Indonesian authorities also constitutes a denial of the truth of the crimes against humanity and human rights abuses that were committed in East Timor in 1999 (and back to the beginning of the illegal occupation on 7 December 1975).
Continuing failure on the Indonesian side to acknowledge the truth is what will jeopardise a reconciliation between Indonesia and East Timor. This tendancy also emerged recently with the release of the film about Balibo. Indonesian state officials were still brazen enough to speak out and condemn the film as historically inaccurate. These officials spoke out to deny the truth about the executions of foreign journalists at Balibo in 1975 at the start of the invasion.
Credible judicial processes in Australia investigating the 1975 murders in 2008 found that the journalists had been deliberately killed by Indonesian troops and that their bodies were mutilated in attemp to destroy them. This was done to prevent news of the invasion reaching the world and to eradicate eyewitnesses who would go back to the West and report what they had witnessed. These were journalists who were so committed to the truth that they lost their lives in pursuit of it.
To return to the crimes of which Bere is accused, East Timor District Court Special Panel for Serious Crimes Case Number 9/2003 Case Summary states the following:
The Laksaur militia case charges 51 counts of crimes against humanity against a total of 11 Accused. The Accused were each members of the Laksaur militia which operated in Covalima District and around Suai near the border with Indonesian West Timor. The Supreme Commander of the Laksaur militia, Olivio Mendonca Moruk (now deceased) and his brother, Egidio Manek are alleged to have exercised effective command and control over other Laksaur militia commanders ("Danki") and to have directed operations against the civilian population in Covalima District in partnership with TNI elements.
The charges include multiple counts of murder, enforced disappearance, persecution, torture, rape, other inhumane acts directed against the civilian population of Covalima District, and the summary execution of many persons suspected to be supporters of the East Timorese independence movement.
They also include the forced deportation of civilians to West Timor. Notably, the crimes alleged against the accused include participation by the Laksaur militia in the Suai Church Massacre of 6 September 1999 which resulted in the death of 3 priests and an estimated 27 - 200 civilians and the forcible abduction by Egidio Manek of a woman who he announced would be his wife. This woman, together with other survivors of the Suai Church Massacre and a large part of the female population of Covalima District were then forcibly deported to West Timor - with many women being subjected to repeated interrogations, persecution and rape at the hands of their abductors.
Each of the Accused, including Egidio Manek and Maternus Bere, Commander of the Laksaur militia in Suai remain at large and are believed to be living in Indonesian West Timor. This is the same Maternus Bele who was arrested
ACCUSED AT LARGE http://www.jsmp.minihub.org/Language_Tetum/spsc2003_tetum.htm