For the past couple of days, I have been noticing a haunting Google search leading a reader to my blog.
“ruben barros soares staf unamet”
Towards the end of August, every Timorese family who lost loved ones before or after the Referendum must start to remember.
Barros Soares, known as “Aru”, was one of 14 UNAMET staff violently killed by Timorese militia and/or Indonesian military for helping to set up the UN-sanctioned vote on the “special autonomy” offer.
The son of the head of his village, he was working as a language assistant in Bobanaro district. For this, he was brutally murdered.
On September 2, 1999, militia members gathered outside of his house in Raifun village, Maliana. According to witnesses, he had just returned from work, taken a shower and was about to call his family, who he was worried about, as they were gathered at the UNAMET compound in Dili.
With Indonesian TNI members present, according to the Special Crimes Prosecutor they
dragged Ruben B. Soares outside of the house… Militia members, including Vitalis Fernandes aka Vitalis Afonso and Marito Lelo Bere Moreira began attacking him. During the attack, militia member Vitalis Fernandes aka Vitalis Afonso stabbed Ruben Soares several times. Ruben B. Soares attempted to defend himself. During the attack, militia members Joao Baptista aka Joao Gomblo, Marito LeloBere Moreira, Salvador Soares aka Salvador Leo Marobo and Dodo, Humberto Lopes, Martinho Afonso and Manuel [LNU] stabbed Ruben B. Soares. In addition, militia member Manuel [LNU] smashed the head of Ruben B. Soares with a rock. Ruben B. Soares died from the injuries received during the attack.
In the conviction of the militia responsible, it came to light militia broke into the house where Ruben was hiding, searching room to room to find him.
When caught, he struggled, and was cut with a machete. “He tried to protect himself and received cuts in his arms and clothes… His fingers were cut off.” He “got a machete in his stomach and at that moment he screamed ‘I am going to die.'”
Even with this injury, one witness said “as he knew a bit of taekwondo” Barros Soares attempted to save his brother-in-law and coworker from the same attackers. He was “speared” and stabbed five times more by three different people. Then he was bludgeoned with a rock on his head and died.
One of his many attackers was convicted of murder and sentenced by the Special Crimes Tribunal to 10 years and 6 months imprisonment.
I asked last year (in “The UN Dead”), and I will ask again. What has the UN done to compensate these families’? To formally recognize their loss?