Viewing cable 07JAKARTA1227

07JAKARTA12272007-05-01 09:59:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
DE RUEHJA #1227/01 1210959
R 010959Z MAY 07
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 JAKARTA 001227 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2017 
Classified By: PolCouns Marc L. Desjardisn, reason 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 ¶1. (C) Summary:  The last two days of Session II (March 
26-30) of the Commission of Truth and Friendship 
Indonesia-Timore Leste was a continued study in contrasts. 
Prominent Indonesian Generals, active and retired, postulated 
a description of events that at times almost seemed to mock 
the intent of the Commission.  They systematically denied any 
wrongdoing and portrayed themselves as victims of the UN. 
Indonesian Commissioners tended to ask questions seeking to 
buttress their position.  East Timorese commissioners sought 
explanations on how incidents could have occurred given the 
claims of good behavior by security forces.  Lesser 
Indonesian officials also testified and did not say anything 
surprising, denying any ties to the actions by various 
militias.  Four victims spoke of the personal tragedies that 
they faced or witnessed, but could not speak directly to the 
larger issue of responsibility for events.  An official of 
the commission told us privately that the public 
presentations by the generals differed to a great extent to 
the answers they gave commissioners in private.  Session III 
will take place again in Jakarta from May 2-5.  End Summary 
Major General Suhartono Suratman 
¶2. (SBU) In a presentation that bordered at times on the 
comical, Suhartono emphasized three major themes:  a history 
of various meetings and agreements that occurred in 1999 and 
his duty to adjust to new realities and provide security; 
killings by East Timorese rebels of innocent civilians such 
as doctors and engineers; and lastly how great a commander he 
was, as measured by the number of dignitaries and local 
leaders he received or visited while in East Timor, which he 
displayed in a lengthy slide presentation.  Suhartono had 
aides distribute copies of a book he wrote to the audience 
and had a cheering section present. 
¶3. (SBU) Suhartono stated that his actions as military 
commander in East Timor where in accordance with accepting 
the new realities that were transpiring in East Timor in 
¶1999.  He stated that the security forces attempted to 
encourage dialogue and provide security for the 
implementation of several peace agreements that were signed 
in the course of that year.  He cited the presence of one 
East Timorese commissioner at some of those talks.  He said 
that agreements to lay down arms were not respected and 
criticized the UNAMET commander for not being neutral. 
¶4. (SBU) After showing pictures of a number of incidents 
involving civilians that he said were killed by rebels, 
Suhartono then showed a lengthy series of pictures of 
meetings with foreign personalities, involvement in good 
works or on visit to various local institutions.  The display 
was an attempt to illustrate his benevolent attitude and he 
discussed his wife's charitable activities at length. 
Suhartono claimed that they always had the East Timorese 
people's welfare first in their mind as did his forces.  He 
criticized then rebel leader Xanana Gusmao for escalating 
violence in April 1999 through a call for an uprising.  He 
stated that while integrationist forces had turned in their 
weapons in accordance with agreements, independence forces 
had not and that the military was hamstrung because it was 
confined to barracks in the period leading to the referendum. 
¶5. (SBU) Questions by the Indonesian commissioners brought 
forward statements that Suhartono left East Timor two weeks 
before the referendum, that the Indonesian military had no 
security role from May 1999 because it had adopted a 
"neutral" position between pro-independence and 
pro-integration forces, that the police was responsible for 
security and that TNI forces were decreased from 10 to 3 
battalions in the course of the summer.  East Timorese 
commissioners' attempts to seek information on the source of 
weapons for the pro-integration militias and statements that 
the militias were composed of military personnel resulted in 
a flat denial by Suhartono of any military involvement. 
Other questions about specific incidents led to denials of 
TNI wrongdoing and a flat assertion by Suhartono that all his 
personnel were trained in human rights and carried human 
rights booklets with them.  He added that any violations were 
punished in accordance with law but asserted that there were 
not many.  He said that from May 1999, his soldiers were not 
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permitted to carry weapons outside their barracks.  The 
authorities thought the police and UNAMET would be able to 
provide adequate security.  He criticized UNAMET for not 
understanding the situation well enough. 
Major General (retired) Adam Damiri 
¶6. (SBU) Damiri, whose command included multiple islands 
besides Timor, made a more coherent and focused presentation 
than Suhartono.  Emphasizing the history of events as he saw 
them from 1975 onward, he repeated many themes enunciated by 
other GOI officials.  He talked of continued violence from 
1975 onwards, that one group punishing another with violence 
was part of the local culture, pointing to current 
instability in East Timor.  He specifically called charges of 
forced displacement an allegation.  He asserted that 
pro-independence forces caused the unrest because they were 
attacking the nation's integrity and that Indonesian forces 
were most concerned with protecting civilians from Fretilin. 
He stated that in 1999 Fretilin activities had the effect of 
causing a mass exodus and destroyed much GOI-provided health 
and education infrastructure.  He said that many 
organizations organized by the government said to be militias 
were not so, but similar to neighborhood watch groups that 
exist to this day in all parts of Indonesia. 
¶7. (SBU) Damiri stated that when a ceasefire was negotiated 
between the various forces in mid-1999, only pro-integration 
forces handed over weapons, 435 guns, while pro-independence 
handed over none.  He criticized the UNAMET chief for having 
failed to collect any.  TNI's neutrality restricted its right 
to patrol yet it had to supply UNAMET with numerous 
resources, he stated.  As had other military witnesses, he 
alleged that foreign planes were doing night operations at 
the time.  Damiri criticized UNAMET for not using the 
resources of the local election commission to better organize 
the vote and for recruiting only pro-independence staff.  He 
said that UNAMET was biased towards independence and did 
nothing about cheating during the vote and did not follow-up 
Indonesian complaints.  Despite this, Damiri asserted that 
Indonesia had met its responsibility by assuring a peaceful 
voting day. 
¶8. (SBU) Damiri stated that the subsequent violence was 
sporadic and everywhere.  He claimed that integrationists 
were disappointed by UNAMET cheating and that in their 
euphoria, the winners behaved in an "exaggerated" way.  He 
cited the early announcement of the results as an important 
factor as well.  Damiri said that he never instructed 
Indonesian forces to support autonomy (i.e. integration) 
during the course of 1999.  He specifically denied the 
issuance of weapons by the TNI to militia forces, noting that 
most weapons available in armories had been shipped to Java. 
In answer to questions, Damiri provided long lists of actions 
he said his forces took to protect people during the violence 
that followed the referendum.  Prompted by an Indonesian 
Commissioner's question, he agreed with the possibility that 
Indonesia had been the victim of a conspiracy, naming 
Australia in particular.  Damiri claimed that the referendum 
should have shown 60 percent support for integration, based 
on voter participation in the Indonesian parliamentary 
elections earlier in the year. 
¶9. (SBU) The questioning of Damiri exhibited moments of 
tension and others of close familiarity.  Indonesian 
Commissioner Achmad Ali at one point was so forward leaning 
in agreeing with Damiri's comments that the East Timorese 
co-chair soon after made a statement to remind commissioners 
that they were not supposed to come to any conclusions at 
that time.  At another point, Damiri noted that East Timorese 
Commissioner Felicidade de Sousa Guteeres had told him that 
she had been once in a position to kill him when she was a 
fighter in the bush.  She smiled and nodded in 
acknowledgement.  He then noted that another commissioner, 
Isabel Ferreira, wife of the current head of the East 
Timorese military, knew Damiri and his wife well.  In fact, 
after the testimony Ferreira came down into the audience to 
chat with Damiri's wife. 
Victim Witnesses 
¶10. (SBU) During the last two days of testimony, there were 
several victim witnesses.  One woman was a victim of multiple 
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rapes by militia members who was then kidnapped and taken to 
the border with West Timor.  After much more abuse, the 
victim managed to run away.  The witness was a person of 
simple background who had trouble telling her story in the 
imposing milieu of a hotel ballroom. 
¶11. (SBU) Another victim was a male who had left the military 
and had been attacked by militia for being an independence 
supporter.  Seriously wounded by a knife attack, the TNI 
prevented him from being killed.  A separate victim described 
an attack by militia members on the Maliana Police station in 
which three local parliamentarians died.  Questioning 
established that the witness could not specifically establish 
the identities of the attackers and that the attack occurred 
because the police did not take action to impeded such 
attacks and protect victims. 
¶12. (SBU) A witness who was an aide to a priest testified to 
the killings during the Suai Church attack, saying that he 
himself had counted fifty bodies.  Refugees had gathered in 
the church due to threats they had received before they were 
killed by militia. 
Former Mayor of Dili 
¶13. (SBU) Also testifying was Mateus Maia, former Mayor of 
Dili from 1996-99.  He spent much of his time explaining the 
difference between the militia groups and government 
established civilian security brigades.  He claimed that the 
population often confused the two groups.  He said that the 
government group was composed of East Timorese both for and 
against independence whereas the militia groups were private 
pro-independence forces.  He described the incident in which 
local notable Manuel Carrascalao was killed as resulting from 
pro-integrationists who were disappointed that Carrascalao 
had switched sides. 
¶14.  (C) Comment:  There was a slight uptick in the tension 
in the sessions during the last two days, notably when 
Suhartono and Damiri testified.  Truth has thus far does not 
always seem to be the winner in the sessions.  In fact, an 
official closely familiar with the Commission's work said 
that Suhartono and Damiri were much more frank in private 
preparatory discussions.  The next session runs from May 2-5 
and includes such prominent witnesses as General Wiranto and 
then Colonel (now Major General) Noer Muis.  End Comment