[TimorLesteStudies] April 17 1999 Ten Years Later by Carmela Baranowska
Jennifer.Drysdale at anu.edu.au
Fri Apr 17 11:02:29 EST 2009
April 17 1999
Ten Years Later
By Carmela Baranowska
<http://email@example.com>cbaranowska at yahoo.com.au
In 1999 I spent six months in East Timor filming the last six months
of the Indonesian occupation for my film 'Scenes From An Occupation'.
I first arrived in Dili in early March 1999.
On April 17, 1999 the militia organised their first rally in Dili.
The main independence grouping, the Council for National Timorese
Resistance (CNRT), has been forced underground after the Liquica
Massacre. It is impossible to contact the leadership. The chain of
information is cut and the outside world does nothing.
Very early in the morning on April 17, I film a first communion at
Motael Church; as it finishes I rush off to film the pro-integration
rally. Cheers erupt as Aitarak militia leader Eurico Guterres speaks.
I continue filming as he exhorts his supporters to go and seek
anti-integration people and 'shoot them dead'. An Indonesian
cameraman working for Associated Press also films the rally. Years
later AP will not allow the UN Serious Crimes Unit to access the
footage; and then later they will deny that the footage even exists.
Next, events happen very quickly. Militia goes to the homes of
pro-independence people in a systematic attempt to kill. Manuel
Carrascalao's home is raided. At the time, it is believed that twelve
people have been killed. We know this because Bishop Belo goes to the
morgue and counts the dead.
Most journalists stay indoors. It is too dangerous outside. There are
only a handful of us left. Two telephones in Dili are routinely used
by journalists to make reverse charge phone calls. We assume that
Australian intelligence is listening to our conversations. The
Australian government does nothing.
No journalist is present when Carrascalao's home is attacked and
people are killed. Years later I learn that the Indonesian police had
video cameras and were filming there. The footage must still exist in
Over the next few days the Indonesian police barricades Carrascalao's
street. We, the journalists, are forbidden from entering. Later we
learn that the victims have been buried in the house's well.
As dusk is falling journalist and writer Irene Slegt and I go to a
totally destroyed and burnt down Becora Market. We learn that a man
who has stepped off a bus from Baucau has been shot at point-blank
range earlier in the afternoon. Later we find his body and grieving
family at the Motael Clinic.
It is difficult to know what will happen next. Every day there is a
military style operation in Becora. The Timorese people are desperate
for outside military intervention. They are also deeply traumatised.
Grown men break down crying in front of me. In Portuguese they say
that the Indonesians are 'assassins and liars'.
(Originally published in online magazine Documenter in 2000 and
revised in 2009)
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