G-NEWS (DILI) –1999 Referendum was a determination day, after a long struggle of Timorese people where Indonesian Army called ABRI were illegally occupied Timor Leste on 7th December 1975. During the occupation period, many Timorese did not gain their freedom because of, Indonesian army kept intimidating, violated, murdered many Timorese who fought for their right for independence.
Obviously, many people aware that, past 24 years who was the main actor of the violation that happened during the referendum time because there were many international media or journalist who filmed all the violation action during the popular consultation in both municipality and Dili. There were several massacres that happened in different districts such are; Suai Church Massacre, Liquica Massacre, Tumin Massacre in RAEOA and another massacre happened in Apikuru Lospalos and also happened in some other places.
G-News team had an interviewed with one of the witness of 1999 referendun that the violations occurred in Timor Leste was committed by the militias and some Timorese who fought for an integration to Indonesia. Eurico Guterres was one of the Aitarak leader who led his team to involved in massacres that occurred and also destroyed populations’ houses in capital Dili.
There is Timorese namely Afonso Barreto who witnessed 1999 Referendum, explained that: “Assassination action that occurred in Dili was so bad because there were so many armed militias in Dili. “Once, we recall all these occurrences, it is so sorrowful and so scary because militias were every where in the town. This situation forced us to fled from capital to Dare and some other families fled to municipality for their own safety. If We took revenge against them, they would kill all of us, because They were all armed and ready to kill.
That moment, he turned to 21 years old. As young man, he involved into Independence political campaign, even though, it was difficult moment for him because many young people have been tortured, threated and also they received a message that , “It is impossible that you can get independence.”
He added that “ Eurico Guterres was the only militias’ leader in Timor Leste who did disturbance in capital Dili.
We know that Eurico Guterres was the one who led the militias to ruined Dili. His members committed violations in every corner of Dili, burning houses, intimidated, and the worst committed violation was forced some Timorese girls and women for sex if they discover that they had family member who fought for independence.
A young woman whose name Ermelinda Trindade also fled to Dare, said that she did not recognize who was Eurico Guterres and she did not know who were his members and who were actually pro Indonesia and independence? She just recognized Eurico Guterres and his militias members through the social media when people started upload or posting.
Based on what we saw on the social media, Eurico Guterres is fat and has long hair. Recently I did not recognize him because I was just 11 years old when we fled to Dare with our family. Many kids were there that moment. When we look down to Dili, the houses were burnt, smokes up to sky.
Antonio Cardoso was still 15 years old and he did not really accompany the whole the process of struggle. That time, he had no idea who the hell was Eurico Guterres? However he saw the acts of militias on social media that caused many people trauma and frightened that is why, people must fled.
He said, “That time I was still 15 years old. Many of our relatives escaped to mountain for their safety. I did not really recognize who was Eurico Guterres because there were so many people mixed, so I was not sure, who were militias and who were not. But I sometime saw him long hair on the news. He was the militias’ leader in Dili. And some other militias were on their way coming to Dili. They kept looking for those young people who involved or took part in the group of independence fighters to murdered them. When I see again the news of 1999 and recall what happened in 1999, I still cannot hold back my sorrow and tears falls.
People know that all the violation, murderers, burning, damages were organized by Eurico Guterres, even he was not the direct actor. If he insisted, that was not him, then he must speak the truth through international media for a justification.
Witness considers that Eurico Guterres was a huge murderer in 1999 referendum, although he did not murder people directly however, he was the one who organize and gave order to his people to committed violation actions in the town. “Of course he did not kill people directly in Dili, however he was the leader so, he must take responsibility on his militias members acts that they committed in Dili. People recognized how is Eurico Guterres, even international community know that Eurico Guterres was the one who organized pro integration people to did such cruel action in Dili, in 1999 referendum. As Timorese, I particularly sad on these cruel violations. Even so, many Timorese people finally achieved our objective which called INDEPENENCE.
Guntur operation in 1999 referendum was as an action of the pro integration militias after the announcement of election on 30th August 1999. Pro integration started attacking pro-independence people that were mostly civilian in Dili and all territory of Timor Leste. After the announcement of result where majority of people decided to get independence, violation and cruel started occur everywhere and it caused around more than a thousand innocent people died.
Both groups of Timorese people who supported Pro Independence and Pro Integration started their political campaign in Timor Leste. They provoke and threated each other and finally it caused violations occurred everywhere in whole territory. Pro Independence group accused that Timorese militias and Indonesia military conducted military join training. Before signed Memorandum of Understanding, on April 1999, militias Besi Merah Putih attacked and murder many civilian people in Liquica. On the other hand, another group of militias that led by Indonesia national army attacked a group activist on 16th may in Atara village. The group of militias also attacked UNAMET HQ in Maliana. Indonesian authority said that there was nothing important to stop the violation that happen among Timorese people. In February 1999, Mr. Jose Ramos Horta said that before Indonesia withdrew from Timor Leste, they will create insatiability and disturbance as what they promised. The militias’ leader already alerted that” There must be a war.” Francisco Lopez da Cruz said that if people reject autonomy option, there will be a war in Timor Leste.” One of the militias’ leaders also added that the fires from the ocean will occur if the election won by pro-independence.” Once the election result was about to announce, the sign of violation started from remotes area and municipality.
Chief Commander of FALINTIL Kairala Xanana Gusmão declared that, People of Timor Leste were the real hero of fought for independence, because they were the ones who chased occupant politically with election process through referendum in 1999. Xanana added that he appreciated and recognized the fighter’s contribution during 24 years however, the people of Timor Leste need an appreciation a lot for them, as they have shown their braveness to step out from their home to polling center to vote, even though there were a lot of pressure and intimidation. Xanana called for international community to have gain referendum as a pacific option to end the conflict and violation in Timor Leste. This option was so much reflected to his PLAN for PEACE where he realized after reorganized the war.
United Nation agreed the referendum propose in 1999 to Timorese people for their self-determination. Finally, all element of Timorese people; Old people, Youth, Disability people who were bravely walked out from their home to polling center to deposit a vote for the victory of Timor Leste.
RECONCILIATION WITH INDONESIA
“We must accept and agree the reconciliation between 2 countries, Timor Leste and Indonesia, but Indonesian army’s acts that murdered and kidnapped many people that until now we do not even know where they are? It is unacceptable and it will not be forgotten by Timorese people. The reconciliation is part of political manner between 2 nations. Sorrowful and hurt will never be cured and can never be forgotten.
Some of victims’ relatives agree with the reconciliation between Timor Leste and Indonesia, but as citizens always consider that reconciliation is not a solution to cure hurt of the family who lost their son and family in this cruel war for long time. It is because some of our family who were murdered or kidnapped, until now we have not got their body or even bones back.
I do agree that the reconciliation must happen because of political issue between 2 nations. But it is not a good solution to cure the hurts and suffer that people faced during the referendum. Many of our family were killed, tortured, and kidnapped. Even until now, we cannot find their body and grave. This is so much hurt that we cannot forget this quick. “He added”
Most of Timorese accept the reconciliation that happened already but it will not make us forget so quick of what had happened during the period of fighting particularly, those who lost their love ones. Such thing never flies away from their memory who suffered from the consequences of this war. Politically, this reconciliation was held in order, to forget and forgive, so that between 2 nations can build strong relation, to focus on development of these 2 nations. It is because economically Timor-Leste still have much expectation form Indonesia.
G-News team has contacted Mr. Eurico Guterres via his WhatsApp number on 16 August 31, 2023. He agreed to have an exclusive interview, therefor G-News team sent him several questions but until now he has not answered any. 11 questions already sent it through his contact number.
Jornalista : Ekipa G-News
Editór Testu : Amito Qonusere Araújo