Amnesty International charges Indonesia permits torture in East Timor
Repeated Indonesian efforts to deny claims of ongoing guerrilla resistance to the annexation of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor appear seriously discredited by the release of an alleged Indonesian military handbook.
The gravest disclosure of the handbook, supposedly captured by Timorese guerrillas last December, is that torture is used against Timorese dissidents.
In a section on the use of force and violence, the released manual says: ''It is hoped that interrogation with the use of violence will not be undertaken except in certain situations where the person interrogated finds it difficult to tell the truth. If you are forced to use violence, no witnesses should be present. . . . Avoid the taking of photographs which show torture. . . .''
The chapter, however, acknowledges that torture is wrong and says: ''Too much coercion has been used in the past often resulting in the person admitting his guilt through fear and subsequently following the wishes of the interrogator.'' This, says the manual, is an obstacle to obtaining accurate information for use in the field.
The London-based Amnesty International organization, which has drawn attention to the details of torture techniques in the 82-page document, claims that the handbook, written in Indonesian, has been verified as authentic by experts on Indonesia.
(In Jakarta Wednesday, a spokesman for the Indonesian Defense and Security Ministry denied the existence of a special military manual for troops serving in East Timor, according to Reuters. Ministry spokesman Rear Adm. Erwin Mangaweang said, ''No, it does not exist. We have never issued such a manual for East Timor.'')
Information contained in the handbook implies that the guerrilla movement, known as Fretilin, is by no means a spent force despite repeated Indonesian claims to the contrary. Fretilin is the Marxist group displaced from power in East Timor when the Indonesian Army invaded in 1976. It has been resisting the occupation since that time.
The military manual is mainly classified ''secret'' and is supposedly written by two Indonesian military officers, Maj. Williem Da Costa and infantry Col. A. Sahala Rajagukguk. It was smuggled to Lisbon last month along with other materials for distribution by Fretilin's overseas representatives.
The release of the handbook follows reports last month that Indonesia had negotiated a ceasefire with guerrillas on the island in preparation for bringing an end to the eight-year-old conflict.
The manual outlines the highly developed Fretilin network in the island's towns and villages and gives advice on how to combat the guerrillas and their sympathizers. The detailed nature of the chapters, which describe the guerrilla network as it existed at the time of writing of the manual (September 1982), underlines the generalized extent of opposition to the Indonesian takeover of the island.
The document concedes that the greatest problems for the Indonesian forces are in the eastern zone of the island - long recognized as a guerrilla stronghold - where it says there are places suffering from food shortages. The authors say the military has successfully dismantled ''communist cells'' in five regions of the eastern zone south of Bakau, site of the Indonesian military headquarters on the island, but that other areas remain linked to the guerrilla network.
Amnesty International Wednesday disclosed the contents of a letter to Indonesian President Suharto, condemning the possibilities for torture contained in the document and stating that ''all governments are bound by international human rights standards prohibiting torture in all circumstances.''
Amnesty said it had asked President Suharto to issue instructions prohibiting torture by all forces under his command.