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Country Reports
EAST TIMOR, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the next year, setting off years of armed struggle with Fretilin rebels. On 30 August 1999, the people of East Timor voted in a referendum to become independent of Indonesia. This touched off a rampage with massive abuses by pro-Jakarta militia from West Timor supported by Indonesian soldiers. UN peacekeeping forces arrived on 20 September and restored calm.

East Timor is now recognized internationally as independent of Indonesia. It is being governed by the United Nations under a “transitional administration.” It is expected to be able to assume full self-governing functions by late 2001 or early 2002.

There is no evidence that East Timorese Fretilin fighters ever used, produced, or possessed antipersonnel landmines. (See Indonesia country report regarding government use of AP mines in the 1970s).

During the violence in 1999, there were allegations of use of mines in East Timor by the militia from West Timor.[1] However, when peacekeeping forces arrived, they did not encounter antipersonnel mines. Canadian and Australian soldiers in the peacekeeping mission were equipped with command-detonated Claymore-type mines, which are not prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty.[2]

Mrs. Yeny Rosa Damayanti of Solidamor (Solidarity for East Timor), based in Jakarta, visited Dili, East Timor from 1 July-12 September 1999 to monitor the vote. She visited all district areas and regencies except Los Palos, and never heard any reports of landmine use.[3] Mr. Saut Sirait, a Christian priest from KIPP (Independent Committee for Monitoring Election) in Jakarta was also sent to East Timor from 20 August-12 September 1999 to monitor the vote. He visited small towns and district areas and talked with many East Timorese, but he never heard reports of landmine use.[4]

There has been no statement yet on mine ban policy from East Timor officials. Jose Ramos Horta, who received the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve independence for East Timor, and is often mentioned as the likely first Foreign Minister, has spoken out strongly in favor of a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines.

East Timor is not mine-affected.


[1] “Land mines threat to peace troops,” Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 1999; “E. Timor resistance warns Dili been mined,” Reuters, Lisbon, 17 September 1999. Another report indicated use of booby-traps but not mines. “Van Doos Make for E. Timor Landing,” Toronto Sun, 28 October 1999.
[2] “Canadian forces equipped with landmines,” CP, Ottawa, 13 February 2000. “More than 1,000 Soldiers Begin International Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor,” Associated Press, Dili, September 1999. This report and others indicated Australian forces brought “land mines,” but it was later clarified these were Claymore-type mines.
[3] Landmine Monitor interview with Mrs. Yeni Rosa Damayanti, Solidamor, Jakarta, 12 April 2000.
[4] Landmine Monitor interview with Saut Sirait, Independent Committee for Monitoring Election, Jakarta, 14 April 2000.