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Doe v. Lumintang

Atrocities During the East Timor Independence Referendum

Doe v. Lumintang

Atrocities During the East Timor Independence Referendum

Perpetrator: Lt. Gen. Johny Lumintang


As a captain in the Indonesian infantry, between 1975 and 1979, Johny Lumintang took part in the invasion of East Timor. He later held senior command positions in field operation posts. On January 18, 1999, Lumintang became the Army Deputy Chief of Staff. As a Lieutenant General, Lumintang held the second highest rank in the Tentara National Indonesia ("TNI"), the Indonesian armed forces.

On January 28, 1999, Indonesian President Habibie announced that he was prepared to consider the possibility of a ballot in East Timor to allow the East Timorese people to decide between autonomy as a special part of Indonesia or independence. In the run-up to the independence referendum, Indonesian forces escalated their campaign of violence against suspected pro-independence East Timorese.

Paramilitaries Placed Under Indonesian Military Command

The regular military forces were complemented by paramilitary auxiliary forces, commonly known as militias, that were also under the command of the Indonesian Army. Although these militias were present throughout Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, in late 1998, many additional militias were formed. In August 1998, they became effectively part of the Indonesian Armed Forces. The militia expansion, formation, and arming continued rapidly. During December 1998 and January1999, new and more militias were formed, and they spread throughout the territory. The militias were instructed, supported, and guided by Indonesian Army officers. They also received arms directly from the Indonesian Military Area Resort Command. Militia assaults on unarmed villages throughout East Timor began after Indonesian President Habibie’s January 1999 announcement.

As the second ranking person in the Army, Lumintang was responsible for the supervision of military operations and for military discipline.  However, Lumintang failed to impose a single disciplinary measure upon any individual for actions taken against civilians in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Lumintang Plans Military Response to Independence Vote

On May 5, 1999, the same day that a formal international agreement was signed between the United Nations and the governments of Indonesia and East Timor to conduct a referendum known as the Popular Consultation of East Timor,  Lieutenant General Lumintang issued a telegram, instructing the responsible local commander in East Timor to prepare a security plan which involved the suppression of pro-independence forces and the possible forced “evacuation” of civilians.

Later, on June 30, 1999, Lumintang signed a manual instructing soldiers in, inter alia, abduction, killing, kidnapping, terror, and agitation. This manual was used by soldiers in East Timor, including those at Korem 164, Lumintang's previous command.

On August 30, 1999, the Popular Consultation was held. Ninety-eight percent of those East Timorese who were eligible voted. Nearly 79 percent of the East Timorese voted in favor of independence and against autonomy.  The results of the vote were not announced until September 4, 1999.

Immediately after the vote on August 30th, pro-Indonesian militias and TNI forces began a sustained and coordinated program of massive destruction that continued until the arrival of an international military peacekeeping force September 21, 1999.

Violence was directed against independence leaders, their families, and ordinary civilians. Many people were killed. The destruction also took other forms: major buildings, homes, cars, and shops were blown up or burnt. Most schools were destroyed.

On September 6, 1999, intense fires began in East Timor. Given the size, location and temperature, none of these fires could have been caused by natural forces. Experts from the Australian Weather Service monitoring a European satellite called ERS1 tracked and identified these fires between September 6 and September 28.  They occurred in groups and clusters directly corresponding to the locations of towns, villages and settlements in East Timor. On September 9, 1999 large areas of Dili were afire.

Militia forced East Timorese to gather, first at the local district or sub-district military headquarters where they were held either by militia in concert with TNI personnel or by armed soldiers. Once gathered, they then were forced over the border into West Timor. Some of these people were taken by ship; many were transported in military headquarters' trucks and jeeps. Others were sent in stolen vehicles.

Information released by the United Nations indicates that between September 4th and September 21st 1999, the date INTERFET arrived in Dili, some 240,000 people, consituting a third of the population, were relocated from East Timor in less than 20 days. The forced evacuation of approximately one-third of the East Timorese population was the result of long-term  planning that required the coordinated work of the Indonesian military and militia. This forced removal of the population was consistent with the strategies discussed at the June 18, 1999 meeting involving Major General Syahnakri and Suki Anwar and with the general character of the telegram sent by Lumintang on May 5, 1999.

In February 2001, Defendant Lumintang became the Secretary of the Department of Defense of Indonesia.