Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Indonesia starved, raped East Timorese: UN report


The Indonesian military used starvation and sexual violence as weapons to control the province of East Timor during a 24-year occupation that caused the deaths of up to 180,000 civilians, according to a UN report cited yesterday by The Australian newspaper.

The newspaper said it obtained a copy of the 2,500-page report by the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, which is due to be handed to UN headquarters in New York by East Timor President Xanana Gusmao today.

The report claims the policies of Indonesia's military against East Timor's civilian population caused the deaths of between 84,000 and 183,000 people -- up to a third of the territory's population -- between 1975 and 1999.

More than 90 percent of the deaths were due to hunger and illness, it said.

The Indonesian security forces "consciously decided to use starvation of East Timorese civilians as a weapon of war," the report says.

"The intentional imposition of conditions of life which could not sustain tens of thousands of East Timorese civilians amounted to extermination as a crime against humanity committed against the East Timorese population," it said.

Of 18,600 unlawful killings or disappearances reported in East Timor during the occupation, Indonesian police or soldiers were to blame for 70 percent of the deaths, it said.

The Australian said the report detailed how Indonesian soldiers employed napalm and chemical weapons to poison food and water supplies during the 1975 invasion of the territory.

The report was based on interviews with almost 8,000 witnesses as well as Indonesian military papers and intelligence from international sources.

It gave details of thousands of summary executions and the torture of 8,500 people, including the burying and burning alive of victims and the cutting off of ears and genitals to display to families, the paper said.

Thousands of East Timorese women were allegedly raped and sexually assaulted during the occupation.

"Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters," the commission was quoted as saying.

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