Lafaek Saburai [Afonso Henriques Pinto]
Commander, Makikit militia, Viqueque (also of Darah Merah militia)
Lafaek Saburai, a nom de guerre for Afonso Henriques Pinto, was listed in April 1999 as commanders of the militia Makikit. Leading the militia with him was another 1975-76 partisan, Viqueque district head Martinho Fernandes. This long-standing and feared militia was based in Viqueque and reportedly had 200 men and 100 rifles. Makikit and some lesser militias in Viqueque were organised by the military district’s intelligence officer Lt Yusuf Tandi (see LtCol Djoko Soekarsono).
March was a busy month for the militia and its military bosses. On 11 March 1999 Lafaek Saburai (Afonso Pinto) signed a letter to supreme militia commander Joao Tavares in the former’s capacity as commander of Red Blood (Darah Merah), otherwise known as Right Wing Militia (Milisi Sayap Kanan), or East Timor Cleansing Front (Front Pembersihan Timor Timur). This was not a known militia grouping (not to be confused with the similarly named Darah Merah militias based in Ermera and in Ambeno; nor should Lafaek's name be confused with the Combat Lafaek later based in West Timor). Perhaps the names were covers for the regular Makikit force.
In the letter he said the struggle by his fellows in the various militia gangs had hitherto been too weak, and he was launching a planned operation called Operasi Sapu Jagad (Operation Clean Sweep). It aimed to eliminate all pro-independence leaders after the pro-Indonesian East Timorese had been safely removed to the western parts around Bobonaro..... The letter was leaked and considerably raised political tension in East Timor - it was the first time the militias had announced plans to kill pro-independence figures and start a war in East Timor over the ballot. Soon after, on 17 April 1999, militias went on a rampage following a large rally in Dili, leading to many deaths at the home of politician Manuel Carrascalao.
On 20 March 1999 Makikit militiamen abducted Emilia, a 36-year old housewife in Dilor, Viqueque, having been unable to find her husband. She was taken to the Dilor sub-district military command (Koramil, led by Lt Purwadi), where she was attacked sexually and threatened with death. On the same day Makikit militia shot dead two men in Lacluta in the interior behind Viqueque. The murders may have been part of a terror operation conducted by Makikit militiamen together with Kodim troops that caused nearly 500 villagers from Lacluta to flee to Viqueque town.
Throughout 1999 he shuttled several times between Jakarta and East Timor. Jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, under house arrest in Jakarta, said in March 1999 that Afonso Pinto was one of two senior East Timorese collaborators recruited by the military intelligence organisation BIA to organise intimidating demonstrations by pro-Indonesian East Timorese in front of Xanana's house.
In late April 1999 Afonso Pinto was again said to be in Jakarta, staying in the athletes quarters in Ragunan. His mission, together with another East Timorese military collaborator named Hercules (or another report said Manuel de Sousa), was allegedly to kill former East Timor governor Mario Carrascalao (brother of Manuel Carrascalao). They were said to be acting under the orders of MajGen Zacky Anwar Makarim. Carrascalao took the report seriously enough to flee the country to Portugal.
In July 1999 he was reported to be in charge of 300 Darah Merah militiamen undergoing pre-ballot training by the military in Jakarta.
On 10 and 11 August 1999, Makikit and 59/75 militiamen attacked a recently established office of pro-independence students in Viqueque, leaving three dead. Unamet protests about this incident led to LtCol Djoko Soekarsono’s replacement.
On 21 September, 1999, just after the Indonesian pull-out from East Timor, he was once more in Jakarta, allegedly meeting with his military superior MajGen Zacky Anwar Makarim and planning to eliminate pro-independence East Timorese still in Indonesia.
Lafaek Saburai, also nicknamed ‘Jacare’ (crocodile), is an experienced fighter. He was a pro-Indonesian 'partisan' already at the time of East Timor's annexation by Indonesia in 1975-76. He became head of the Makikit militia. Despite reports in the 1980s that these earlier militias had been disbanded, Makikit was still on the military payroll in 1998.
Early in 1994, despite the backing of governor Abilio Soares, Afonso Pinto failed to be appointed district head (bupati) of Viqueque. One report hinted that he might then have taken out his disappointment by picking fights with some military in Viqueque, resulting in a wave of tit-for-tat killings.
Perhaps to humour him after this affair, he was a member of the Indonesian delegation to a 'reconciliation' meeting held in Chepstow, England, with members of the East Timorese resistance in September 1994.
However, indications that Afonso remained difficult to handle continued to surface. In early 1995 it was rumoured that the Indonesian military had assassinated him. It was thought this might have happened because of disloyal sentiments he expressed in Chepstow. However, the rumour turned out to be false.
The text of the letter was posted on the internet as 'Darah Merah: Operasi pembersihan', Solidamor <S[email protected]>, 26 April 1999.
'SGI, dalang pembantaian Timtim', Xpos, No. 15/II, 25 April-1 May 1999; 'Mario diburu Kopassus', Xpos, No. 15/II, 25 April-15 May 1999.
'Penyerangan milisi terhadap Sekretariat Dewan Solidaritas Mahasiswa dan Pemuda Timor Timur (DSMPTT) dan Kantor CNRT di Viqueque, 10 dan 11 Agustus 1999', Yayasan HAK, 13 August 1999; ‘Indonesia (East Timor): ‘Indonesia (East Timor): Further information on fear for safety / arbitrary detention / possible "disappearance", Amnesty International (AI Index: ASA 21/93/99), 12 August 1999 (see also AI UA 205/99 (ASA 21/92/99, 11 August 1999, and AI Index: ASA 21/102/99 EXTRA 116/99, 20 August 1999).
'Mendagri punya mau', Editor, 3 March 1994; George J Aditjondro, 'Experiences of clergy and lay persons in ET in early 1994', unpublished letter, Salatiga 7 March 1994.