Archived conflict (updated: December 2001)

There was no reported fighting or conflict-related deaths in 2001. Closely monitored by 8,000 UN Peacekeepers, August elections for East Timor’s first democratically elected assembly were peaceful with a turnout of more than 90 per cent. Initial steps were taken to create East Timor’s national army and talks were held with former militia members to promote reconciliation.

Type of Conflict
Parties to the Conflict
Status of the Fighting
Number of Deaths
Political Developments
Arms Sources

Economic Factors


2000 Having regrouped and rearmed in recent months, East Timorese militias increased armed incursions along the border with West Timor, clashing with foreign peacekeepers and killing three. By the end of August, militiamen seized complete control of the border area and drove out international agencies aiding 120,000 refugees still remaining in West Timor. By early October, the Indonesian government had failed to disarm and disband the militias and free refugees held hostage. At least 25 people, including UN staff died during militia attacks on refugee camps.

1999 When the overwhelming majority of East Timorese voted for independence in August, paramilitary groups, supported by the Indonesian army, mounted a brutal assault on the local population, killing many and displacing most. A multinational force led by Australia and approved by the Indonesian government intervened in September to restore peace and order. Estimates cited between 1,000 and 2,000 civilian conflict deaths during the year.

1998 After a highly publicized withdrawal of combat troops in mid-1998, the Indonesian military armed paramilitary groups and bolstered troop levels for an offensive against remaining rebels.

1997 An Indonesian government campaign of intimidation early in 1997 escalated in response to increased rebel ambushes and May election attacks.

1996 Reports of arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture of civilians by the military persisted as violent clashes between security forces and civilians and an Indonesian government offensive against a reduced rebel force killed at least 20.

1995 Indonesian troops and associated “death squads” escalated the abuse, including execution, of East Timor civilians.

Type of Conflict:

State formation

Parties to the Conflict:

1) Government under President Habibie until October 1999 elections, following which President Abdurrahman Wahid was elected by the People’s Consultative Assembly. Megawati Soekarnoputri was elected President in July 2001.

  • Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI, formerly named ABRI) were placed under a civilian minister in 1999 for the first time in 40 years. Indonesian troops in East Timor are supported by paramilitary groups, primarily youths, such as the gada paksi.

“The 275,000-member armed forces (TNI, formerly named ABRI) were placed under a civilian defense minister for the first time in 40 years and took initial steps to reduce gradually the military’s political and social role and powers, heretofore exercised under the ‘dual function’ doctrine. However, numerous problems still remain in many areas. The national police force of 175,000 members was separated formally from the armed forces and given primary responsibility for internal security, although the police remain under the supervision of the Minister of Defense. The separation was intended to reorient the military away from an internal security role and toward an external defense role. Nonetheless, the armed forces retain broad nonmilitary powers and an internal security role, and are not fully accountable to civilian authority.” [Indonesia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1999, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 2000].

“Over the weekend, ABRI’s East Timor commander Colonel Tono Suratman told the press that he plans to arm civilians in more than 440 villages, in the territory, as protection against rebels fighting for independence. The commander said the weapons would be issued to volunteers who join a >people’s defense force’ known as Wanra.” [East Timor International Support Center, Darwin 0814, Australia, Media Release, Mon, December 7, 1998]

“The Government, as it does elsewhere, also relied on bands of youths, organized and directed by the military, to intimidate and harass its opponents. Such a civilian paramilitary group, known as the gada paksi, was frequently involved in nighttime raids in Dili neighborhoods… ” [Indonesia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 1998].

2) Rebels: Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) and its military wing,

  • Armed Forces for the Liberation of East Timor (Falantil). Led by Jose Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos-Horta. Troop estimates dropped to 200 by 1998.

“East Timorese independence fighter Xanana Gusmao has been seen by many as the man most likely to lead an independent East Timore…both he and colleague Jose Ramos-Horta resigned from the main political grouping saying it was time for new and younger figures to take over at the helm. But after listening to impassioned pleas during a meeting of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, both men decided to stay on.” [BBC News, 30 August 2000]

“Indonesia still faces armed resistance from some 200 guerrillas hiding in the territory’s forests and mountains.” [Reuters, June 17, 1998]

Also, “The National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM) [is] the umbrella group which unites the various East Timorese organizations working for self-determination…” [The East Timor Estafeta, June 1996, p. 5]

Status of Fighting:

2000 Having regrouped and rearmed in recent months, approximately 2,000 East Timorese militia members increased armed incursions along the border with West Timor, clashing with foreign peacekeepers and killing three. By the end of August, militiamen seized complete control of the border and drove out international agencies aiding 120,000 refugees still remaining in West Timor. According to human rights groups, the militias are backed by hard-line elements of the Indonesian army, hoping to reverse the independence vote or cut off a portion of the East Timorese territory. In response to international pressure, militiamen surrendered hundreds of weapons to police on September 24. However by early October, the Indonesian government had failed to disarm and disband the militias and free the refugees held hostage.

[Sources: The Toronto Star, 11 October 2000; The Globe and Mail, 29 August 2000; Etan Weekly News Update, 25 September 2000]

“After the slayings, the United Nations withdrew its aid organizations from West Timor and has demanded that Indonesia disband the militias.” [The New York Times, 24 September 2000]

“The militias, now operating in Indonesia-ruled West Timor, are intent on destabilizing UN-administered East Timor transition to self-rule and preventing 120,000 East Timorese refugees languishing in squalid camps near the border from returning home.” [Associated Press, 20 September 2000]

“While Saturday’s weapons surrender was a positive step, hundreds of other militiamen are yet to come forward and surrender their guns.” [Etan Weekly News Update, 25 September 2000]

“…squads of up to thirty men are now making deep incursions into East Timor, threatening its stability.” [BBC News, 23 October 2000]

1999 Conflict violence in East Timor escalated in the first quarter of the year, with killings taking place in Dili and Liquica. Following the early September announcement of the pro-independence vote, paramilitary groups, backed by the Indonesian military, mounted a brutal assault on the local population, destroying villages and towns and displacing most of the population. With Indonesian approval, a UN-mandated multinational peacekeeping force intervened the same month to end the violence. After Jakarta dropped claims to East Timor on October 20, the Indonesian army withdrew from the island.

“A systematic pattern of violence began in February and culminated in April with two massacres in the capital, Dili, and a town to the west of Dili called Liquica. The death toll in the two attacks was more than sixty, but Indonesian authorities did not arrest any of the militia members responsible. Eyewitnesses reported direct army and police involvement.” [Human Rights Watch World Report, 2000]

“On August 30, the East Timorese turned out in a massive numbers to vote on their future. Despite a vicious campaign of militia/military terror, almost 80% of the population voted for independence. On October 20, the Indonesian parliament renounced all claim to East Timor, and on October 30 the last Indonesian troops withdrew …
Yet, even as independence was within grasp, the Timorese were made to pay a last and terrible price. From August 30 until a multinational force arrived on September 20, the militias … waged a brutal campaign of destruction…” [Canadian Action for Indonesia and East Timor, November 1999].

1998 After a highly publicized withdrawal of combat troops in July, the Indonesian military bolstered troop levels in September in preparation for an offensive against remaining rebels. This included the widespread arming of paramilitary groups opposed to East Timor independence from Indonesia.

“But in recent weeks reports have emerged from East Timor that not only have 12 more battalions been sent to the area but that the army has launched a major offensive against the couple of hundred armed separatists who remain in the hills.” [The Guardian Weekly, October 18, 1998]

1997 An Indonesian security forces’ campaign of intimidation early in 1997 escalated in response to increased rebel ambushes and May election attacks.

“an early 1997 campaign of harassment and detention by the security forces raised tension to a high level. During the May election period and its aftermath, East Timor’s low-level insurgency intensified with guerrilla attacks that inflicted the highest number of deaths in years on security personnel and civilians. These attacks were followed by the capture and death of a prominent guerrilla commander and widespread detentions, accompanied by reports of killings, disappearances, torture, and excessive use of force on the part of the authorities.” [Indonesia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 1998].

1996 Reports of arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture of civilians by the military continued while violent clashes between security forces and civilians and an Indonesian government offensive against a reduced rebel force left at least 20 dead.

“Over the past year, however, the security forces have broken the back of the clandestine resistance movement, which has been fighting the occupiers since they arrived. Its leaders have been arrested or have disappeared, and many young activists have tried to flee abroad. The time must have seemed right for a presidential visit.” [The Economist, October 19, 1996]

1995 Timorese sources cited more than a dozen incidents when about thirty East Timorese were shot, tortured or became missing in the worst reported crackdown since the Dili massacre in 1991.

“There has been a serious escalation of killings by regular troops as well as by death-squads in East Timor since the beginning of the year.” [TAPOL, February 8, 1995]

“In the three months since November 1994, East Timor has been marked by two major incidents of ethnic violence, innumerable demonstrations, intimidation of civilians by roving bands of masked “ninjas”, attacks on the press, the Liquica killings, and perhaps over one hundred arrests, some of which have involved torture.” [Human Rights Watch report, February 1995]

Number of Deaths:

Total: Over 200,000.

According to a 1994 report by the international human rights watchdog Amnesty International, ”two decades of unpunished Indonesian genocide” have cost the lives of one third of East Timor’s 650,000 inhabitants. [InterPress Service, November 25, 1995]

2000 At least 25 people, including UN staff died during militia attacks on refugee camps and 260 others were confirmed dead as mass graves were uncovered.

“UN investigators say they’ve discovered the biggest mass grave in East Timor since they began gathering evidence of a murderous rampage by Indonesian soldiers and police last September… So far, investigators have uncovered about 260 bodies across East Timor. ” [CBC News, 5 February 2000]

“In recent months, Amnesty International has received reports of harassment, intimidation, beatings, torture and unauthorised detention carried out by vigilante groups against people suspected of supporting Indonesia in last year’s vote, and against ethnic and religious minorities.” [Amnesty International, 29 August 2000]

“UN officials said Friday they feared 20 villagers had been massacred by pro-Indonesian militias in West Timor, the day after rampaging mobs killed three foreign aid workers.” [The Guardian Weekly, 8 September 2000]

1999 The overall conflict deaths remain unknown, but some sources estimate between 1,000 and 2,000 East Timorese died during the year.

“In September at least many hundreds of persons were killed in a wave of violence and destruction after the announcement of the proindependence vote. … While the overall death toll remains unclear, most current estimates fall in the 1,000 to 2,000 range.” [Indonesia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1999, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department, 2000]

1998 More than 50 deaths arose from fighting between rebels and military forces, clashes between rival Timorese groups, and from a military attack on civilians reported in the south.

“The East Timor Human Rights Centre (ETHRC) has received reports from reliable sources in East Timor about the extra-judicial execution of approximately 50 East Timorese people between 10 and 16 November, 1998. The executions took place during a military operation by members of the Indonesian military (ABRI) in the sub-district of Alas in the south of East Timor. … The killings and arrests in the Alas sub-district have followed the recent build-up of Indonesian troops in the area. It is believed ABRI forces launched the operation in Alas in retaliation for an attack on 9 November by Falintil (East Timorese Armed Resistance) on members of the military. During that attack, three Indonesian soldiers were killed and 13 taken captive, 11 of who have since been released.” [ETAN information, November 23, 1998]

“Rival Timorese groups have been clashing almost daily, killing at least six people last week and sending thousands of terrified villagers fleeing from their homes. The government’s National Human Rights Commission says at least 50 people have been killed in the past six months.” [Reuters, February 1, 1999]

“Thirty Indonesian soldiers have been killed and one Timorese rebel shot following renewed fighting in East Timor. Reports have indicated that Indonesia is planning to send more troops to Timor although this has been denied by the Indonesian government.” [Jane’s Defence Weekly, 21 October 1998, p21]

1997 At least 50 people died in clashes during the year, including several security personnel and a rebel leader.

“A series of attacks by pro-independence Fretilin guerillas left at least 42 security personnel or civilians dead and many wounded in the worst violence Indonesia’s disputed province of East Timor has seen in six years. The worst incident saw 17 police and one soldier killed when rebels threw a grenade into a truck just west of Bacau and then sprayed the occupants with rifle fire.” [Jane’s Defence Weekly, 11June 1997]

1996 At least 20 deaths of civilians or Indonesian troops were reported.

“Clashes continue in East Timor between rebels and the Indonesian military. On Tuesday at least six people were killed and 10 Indonesian soldiers taken captive last week in a rebel ambush.” [“East Timor: Indonesia, Portugal Fail To Agree In London Meeting,” Darius Bazargan and Darsha Damayanthi, InterPress Service, January 17, 1996]

Political Developments:

2001 Watched over by 8,000 UN Peacekeepers, August elections for East Timor’s first assembly were peaceful with a turnout of more than 90 per cent. (Voting for the first President will be held in 2002 and East Timor will be recognized as an independent state in May.) February steps toward creating a national army by transforming 1,700 former guerrillas into soldiers were followed in August by talks with former militias to further reconciliation efforts and to offer amnesty.

“After resisting Indonesia’s military occupation for 24 years, East Timor’s scrappy guerilla force was transformed into the core of a new national army. In an emotional ceremony, the former rebels lowered their guerilla flag and replaced it with the blue and whit banner of the United Nations, which will oversee the transition. ‘We will become the East Timor Defense Force, but the seed from which this new force was germinated is Falintil,’ former rebel commander Taur Matan Ruak told, 1,700 soldiers. Falintil is the Portuguese acronym for the East Timor National Liberation Armed Forces, formed in the wake of the 1974 collapse of Portugal’s colonial empire. Former colonial soldiers flocked into the force, which fought Indonesia during its 1975 invasion of the half-island territory.” [Associated Press, February 1, 2001]

“The man widely expected to become independent East Timor’s first president has met leaders of the pro-Indonesia militias who went on the rampage following the territory’s 1999 independence vote. Xanana Gusmao, who led a guerilla struggle against Indonesian rule for several years held the meeting in the village of Salele, on the border between East Timor and the Indonesian province of West Timor. The meeting was designed to give a boost to reconciliation efforts ahead of a territory-wide election at the end of the month. Gusmao said he supported the idea of granting amnesty to militia members who return to East Timor. UN officials said about 300 people took part in the meeting, most of them were militia members.” [CNN, August 8, 2001]

“The party that spearheaded East Timor’s 24 year fight for independence from Indonesia has won the fledgling nation’s first democratic elections. United Nations officials have named the Fretilin party, otherwise known as the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, the overwhelming winner. But the party fell just short of the two thirds majority needed to pass a draft constitution, and it may be forced into an alliance with one of the minor parties. Despite this, analysts say the party has received a clear mandate to form a new administration upon independence, as it captured 55 of a new assembly’s 88 seats. The assembly will draft East Timor’s constitution and steer the territory to full independence next year.” [CNN, September 8, 2001]

2000 Repeated calls by East Timorese nationalist leaders for reconciliation with pro-Indonesian forces and even militia members were ignored as President Wahid, unable to control his military, could not prevent military support for cross-border militia attacks. Following September violence, US Defence Secretary William Cohen warned that Indonesia risked losing international financial assistance if it failed to disband the militias. In November, a UN delegation assessed Indonesia’s progress on implementing a Security Council resolution demanding an investigation of killings, the disarming of militias and safe return for refugees (SC Resolution 1319, September 8 2000).

[Sources: The Globe and Mail, 29 August 2000; Etan Weekly News Update, 25 September 2000; Associated Press, 20 September 2000; BBC News, 13 November 2000]

“America and Indonesia exchanged angry words yesterday after Washington protested about the campaign of violence being waged by pro-Jakarta militias in Timor…He gave the Indonesian Defence Minister, Mahfud Mahmudin, an ultimatum to disband the militia groups or face a tough response form Washington.” [Electronic Telegraph, 19 September 2000]

“Details of the problems faced by the thousands of people still stranded in the West Timor camps emerged as a United Nations Security Council delegation visited the East Timor border town of Suai…The delegates are due to fly to West Timor on Tuesday (November 14) to see for themselves the situation in the refugee camps. ” [BBC News, 13 November 2000]

1999 In an August referendum administered and twice delayed by the UN, almost 80 per cent of East Timorese voters rejected autonomy within Indonesia and opted for independence. Xanana Gusmao was released from jail by the Indonesian government in September. The same month, the US cut all military ties with Indonesia, including training programs, the EU suspended all arms and equipment sales for four months, and Canada banned military equipment sales indefinitely, all as a result of the failure of the Indonesian government to curb militia violence in East Timor.

“Three key votes took place during the year. On June 7, Indonesia held its first free parliamentary election in forty-four years, with voters decisively defeating the ruling party, Golkar. On August 30, in a “popular consultation” organized by the United Nations, close to 80 percent of East Timorese voters decided to reject an autonomy package offered by Indonesia and move toward independence. On October 20, the newly elected parliament in Jakarta and 200 other appointed delegates chose Abdurrachman Wahid as the country’s fourth president in a ballot that for the first time ever did not have a predetermined outcome. The opposition leader Megawati Soekarnoputri was elected vice-president the next day.” …

“On May 5, Indonesia and Portugal signed an agreement to put the autonomy proposal to the East Timorese people in a direct and secret ballot that would be administered by a U.N. mission in East Timor that became known as UNAMET. Security for the ballot and the preparations leading up to it would remain the responsibility of the Indonesian government. U.N. officials and East Timorese leaders knew at the time that this provision was a serious flaw, but they believed that no agreement would be possible without it, and that another chance for what amounted to a referendum on independence might never occur.

“UNAMET staff began arriving in Dili in late June and quickly became the target of militia attacks, as violence against suspected independence supporters continued, often with Indonesian military backing or direct participation. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan twice delayed the date of the vote because of security concerns. On August 30, close to 99 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, and on September 4, Annan announced that 78.5 percent had voted to reject the autonomy package and separate from Indonesia. Militia members, again backed by Indonesian soldiers, then initiated the scorched earth campaign that led to the destruction of most towns and villages and much of East Timor’s physical infrastructure. Over 200,000 East Timorese were pushed into West Timor, long part of the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara. Many of the refugees were forcibly expelled at gunpoint by militia members who then regrouped to terrorize them in West Timor. Most of the remaining population fled to the hills; out of East Timor’s pre-referendum population of eight hundred thousand, humanitarian agencies were estimating that at least five hundred thousand had been displaced by mid-September. An unknown number of people were killed.” [Human Rights Watch World Report, 2000]

1998 In UN sponsored negotiations with Portugal, President Habibie offered Aspecial autonomy@ for East Timor in exchange for recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over the territory, but an August agreement to complete details by the end of 1998 was not fulfilled.

“On East Timor, the U.N. brokered an agreement between the Habibie government and Portugal on August 5 in which both sides committed themselves to work toward an agreement on ‘wide-ranging automony’ for the former Portuguese colony…” [Human Rights Watch World Report 1999, p.192]

1997 Following the appointment of a full UN envoy to East Timor, UN-sponsored peace talks between Indonesia and Portugal (on behalf of East Timor) were renewed in June.

“U.N. officials greeted Thursday’s start of new talks between Portugal and Indonesia over the fate of East Timor with cautious optimism…” [“East Timor – U.N.: New Approach Feeds Cautious Hopes,” Farhan Haq, InterPress Service, June 19, 1997]

1996 The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and exiled Timorese political spokesman Jose Ramos Horta in October. A series of UN-sponsored negotiations between Portugal (on behalf of East Timor) and Indonesia which began in 1992 had stagnated by mid-1996.

“The [January peace] talks, sponsored by the United Nations (UN), are the seventh in a series between the Indonesian and Portuguese governments which began in 1992.” [Amnesty International Release, January 15, 1996]

“Dec 18: Talks between Portugal and Jakarta about the so-called East Timor issue, set for Dec 21 in New York, have been postponed. The delay was proposed by the United Nations…” [British Coalition for East Timor newsletter, February 1997, p.2]

1995 In 1995 the UN Secretary-General hosted negotiations on East Timor between the Indonesian and Portugese governments, but agreement was limited to further meetings in 1996.

“The U.N.-backed negotiations on East Timor most recently featured a discussion between Portuguese Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and his Indonesian counterpart, Ali Alatas, mediated by Boutros-Ghali in Geneva July 8. In a report to the Assembly released Wednesday, Boutros-Ghali said the two foreign ministers agreed to further meetings between all Timorese groups — from pro-independence to pro-Indonesia — in the coming months. Boutros-Ghali said Alatas and Durao Barroso also discussed a framework to preserve Timorese cultural identity and to improve bilateral relations between Jakarta and Lisbon. He said he will meet with the two sides again next Jan 16.” [InterPress Service, September 23, 1995]

“To draw attention to the 20th anniversary of the Indonesian invasion, over 100 people sought asylum in the Russian and Dutch embassies in Jakarta in December.” [InterPress Service, December 7, 1995]

“In December, Indonesia signed a defence accord with Australia, the first such accord with another country.” [InterPress Service, December 28, 1995]


In 1975, shortly after Portugal withdrew as a colonial power, East Timor was invaded by Indonesian troops and annexed the following year. Resistance forces led by the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) fought against an occupation that was repeatedly declared illegal by the United Nations. The military-led government of Indonesia received tacit political support from Western nations, many of which are arms suppliers to, or investors in, Indonesia. A subsequent government “transmigration” program, which brought tens of thousands of mostly Muslim Indonesian immigrants to East Timor, contributed to tensions.

In 1991 Western reporters witnessed Indonesian troops killing up to 270 unarmed civilians in the East Timor capital of Dili and international pressure on Indonesia rose. The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and exiled Timorese political spokesman José Ramos-Horta in 1996, brought further international attention to the conflict. During UN-sponsored negotiations with Portugal in 1998, then Indonesian President B. J. Habibie offered “special autonomy” for East Timor in exchange for recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over the territory, but an agreement to complete details by the end of the year was not fulfilled. In January 1999, Habibie took the world by surprise in announcing that East Timor would be allowed to choose between political autonomy within Indonesia and independence.

Despite a campaign of terror by pro-Indonesian militia groups backed by Indonesia security forces, a high turnout of East Timorese overwhelmingly voted for independence. The subsequent dramatic increase in militia-led violence resulted in hundreds of deaths, the displacement of most of the population, and the deployment of a UN multinational force to restore order.

“In the months prior to the vote, pro-Indonesian militia groups, supported by the Indonesian security forces, waged an organized campaign of terror against the population in an attempt to force the population to choose to remain a part of Indonesia. In the aftermath of the vote the violence escalated dramatically. Hundreds of East Timorese civilians were unlawfully killed, over two hundred thousand people were forcibly expelled from the territory and hundreds of thousands of others became internally displaced…

Security only began to be restored after a multi-national force was deployed. By the time the Indonesia security forces and militia withdrew from East Timor in late September 1999, virtually the whole of East Timor’s infrastructure had been destroyed and all institutions of government and administration had ceased to function.” [Amnesty International, 29 August 2000]

Arms Sources:

Indonesia’s recent military suppliers include the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, France and Netherlands. Indonesia also draws on domestic arms production. The US and the EU suspended arms transfers in September, 1999. (The EU did not renew the arms embargo when it expired on January 17, 2000, the US embargo is still in effect.) Rebel groups appear to be equipped with homemade weapons.

On January 17, “… the EU lifted its ban on arms sales to Indonesia four months after it was imposed during the chaotic violence which followed the referendum on independence in East Timor.” [Independent, 18 January 2000]

“Following an exchange of fire in East Timor that killed an Indonesian policeman, Indonesia suspended a 1995 security treaty [with Australia] that had committed the two countries to ‘mutual consultation’ on ‘matters affecting their common security,’ and joint navy patrols in the oil-rich Timor Sea. Australia’s carefully-cultivated relationship with the Indonesian armed forces, that had led to extensive training programs and joint exercises, also appeared to be destroyed.” [Human Rights Watch World Report 2000]

“Inside East Timor UN officials described continuing anarchy. ‘The militias continue circulating freely, with machetes, with home-made guns and in some cases with automatic weapons,’ said Christian Koch, head of the Dili office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.” [The Guardian, September 19, 1999].

“The Clinton Administration has approved over $470 million in arms sales to Jakarta since it took office in 1993. At more than $115 million per year, this is the highest level of U.S. sales to Indonesia ever.” [“A Short Background on U.S. Arms Sales to Indonesia,” The East Timor Estafeta, November 1996]

“In March of this year the Finnish government issued an export license for the export of 60 armoured troop-carriers to Jakarta. In the last few weeks it has also become apparent that Sweden has ditched its policies and is prepared to sell at least three Bofors naval cannons, worth 35 million SEK. The Belgians have started to upgrade 12 F-5 fighter planes at a cost of US $ 40 million. Simultaneously the Belgian company SABCA will install a new avionics suite and do structural repairs and rewiring of the Sidwinder,anti aircraft missiles. The Dutch government has agreed to deliver firing-systems for Indonesian naval patrol boats.” [Towards a Total Ban on European Conventional Arms Exports; Illusion or Realpolitics?, European Parliament, 13 May 1996, Rue Belliard 97, 1047 Brussels, room MAE 2, Panel discussion on regional implications of European arms trade, the example of Indonesia.]

Economic Factors:

There are reports that many militia members were manipulated to become involved because of “poverty and intimidation of fears for their own safety”. The lack of functioning structures, high unemployment and badly needed resources for the territory’s reconstruction, remain large problems.

[Source: Report of the Asia Pacific Working group of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, 29 February 2000]

“Over the short-term there is a great potential for conflict over very basic issues of access to food, adequate shelter, and employment…” [Report of the Asia Pacific Working group of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, 29 February 2000]

“Retreating Indonesian troops and pro-Jakarta militia gangs left the territory in ruins last year, causing an estimated $3bn damage. Infrastructure minister Joao Carrascalao told the UN envoys that it was unacceptable that thousands of people still lacked proper housing and essential amenities more than a year after the UN transitional administration took charge. He said his budget for reconstruction was just $15m – but he believed five times that amount was required to have any impact.” [BBC News, 14 November 2000]

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