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SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 12

A Drive into the Dark Side

Heading east from Dili to the village of Becora, the highway is deserted except our little convoy--a military truck bearing two tons of rice, and two cars carrying military officers and journalists. Half a dozen Indonesian soldiers guard the sacks of rice, their rifles pointed into the surrounding jungle. Their wariness does not inspire confidence.

Marching into Trouble
The multinational peacekeeping force that lands this week is entering a minefield--just the first on what promises to be a long road to independence

In a terror-struck village outside Dili, the Indonesian army makes a show of taking food aid to hungry refugees

Descent Into Chaos
The brutal rampage that has paralyzed the half-island has also severely damaged Indonesia's reputation in the world (Sept. 20, 1999)

Breaking news from CNN

East Timor's Agony
The former Portuguese colony descends into anarchy as pro-Indonesia militias go on a campaign of violence to thwart independence

One Reporter's Notebook
How journalists came under the gun too

Indonesia and East Timor

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, two young priests in white robes appear beside the road. After speaking briefly with the truck driver, the pair hop on their motorcycle and lead the way to Becora, where the rice is destined for pro-independence refugees hiding in the mountains near the village of Motaulun.

Reaching the bridge at Motaulun, the priests turn right toward the hills. The river below the bridge has run dry, matching the hot, dusty landscape. The few houses on the slopes nearby are deserted; two of them are on fire. There is no one to be seen, until the two priests stop, followed by the truck and cars behind them. People begin to emerge from the forest. Within minutes, two dozen--mostly men, with some women and children--stand near the truck, listening to the priests giving instructions in the Tetum language. Two men then come down the hill, carrying a wounded man, Martino Makno.

Makno, 30, says he was coming down to meet the truck, to help carry the rice uphill, when he was shot in the right shoulder "by a soldier in Indonesian military uniform." The right half of his body has gone numb; the bullet has lodged in the shoulder. The priests ask the officer in charge to bring Makno to the hospital at military headquarters to be treated. But the officer refuses, telling them to come to the hospital to get medicine. "It's going to be a total headache if I take him with us," the officer says. "The pro-Jakarta refugees will look for him, since he's clearly on their target list." He denies that Makno could have been shot by one of his men. "It's very easy to wear one of our uniforms," he says. "The shot would have killed him if it had been fired by an Indonesian soldier."

As troops unload the sacks of rice, more and more refugees appear--5,000 are said to be hiding in the area--and watch curiously as their compatriots are interviewed by TV crews. When one of the priests tells everyone in Tetum to take the rice to the mountains, the crowd goes wild as people start to fight over the sacks. The priest shouts for them to stop shoving each other, but no one takes notice. "Don't expect people's ears to listen when they're hungry," the other priest says helplessly. By then, the bare hills are lined with hungry faces.

Fortunately for the refugees, more food and medicine are on their way. On Friday some 20 tons of supplies were dropped from C-130 cargo planes, and the Red Cross had begun to fly supplies into Dili's bedraggled Comoro Airport. "We are going to send at least two planeloads of supplies every day from now on," says Cymeon Antoulas, head of the Red Cross Timor office. For these hungry and frightened people, that aid will be as welcome as the international troops soon to arrive.

This edition's table of contents
TIME Asia home



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Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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