`Army killed refugees and dumped bodies at sea'

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The Independent Online
INDONESIAN SOLDIERS murdered East Timorese refugees and dumped the bodies into the sea from ships deporting them to West Timor, an Australian election observer believes.

Katharine Kennedy, who was accredited to the UN- supervised independence referendum, was among those who fled to West Timor to escape the violence unleashed by anti-independence militias after the vote. She gathered statements from people who said they had seen the murders.

In one case, 15 young Timorese men were stabbed and thrown off an Indonesian passenger liner, the Pelni Awu, which was sailing from Kupang to Denpasar in Bali on 13 September, she says.

Witness accounts she gathered have been reprinted in The Sydney Morning Herald. The witnesses said the killers were in the Indonesian Army.

On 6 September four alleged members of the National Council of Timorese Resistance were shot and thrown over the side of an Indonesian naval vessel carrying forcibly deported refugees to Kupang.

Another said that on 8 September Aitarak militias separated men from a refugee group at the Dili wharf and told them to remove their shirts. The militias then shot 10 dead before an Indonesian Army soldier intervened.

The witness accounts appear to bear out claims by the Carter Centre, which has an East Timor observer mission in Darwin. A report released by the centre yesterday said Indonesian police and militias were seen to murder another refugee being shipped from Kupang in West Timor to Bali on 13 September.

Ms Kennedy said the militias and Indonesian Army had drawn up hit-lists of independence activists and pro- democracy students and were roaming the streets of Kupang looking for those whose names were on them.

Throughout West Timor and other parts of Indonesia, the country's military police, helped by local authorities and militia, ordered churches, hotels and boarding houses to report the presence of any refugees from East Timor.

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