Gada Paksi (Indonesia)

Country: Indonesia
Details of Formation: The group appears to have been set up by Colonel Prabowo in July 1995, although other military officers could have been involved as well. One source claims that the PGM was set up by the governor but it seems like the group was only (financially) supported by the sub-national government. The Gada Paksi consisted mainly of unemployed East Timorese youths, which were used to fight government opposition and the independence movement.
Details of Termination: After Prabowo was discharged in 1998, the group did not receive any more funding. It disappeared in the beginning of 1999 and re-emerged as Aitarak (another PGM), led by the former Gada Paksi leader Eurico Guterres.
Purpose: According to official statements by the government, the group was used to give unemployed youths vocational training and jobs. It was used in surveillance operations and as a security network to fight East Timorese pro-independence youth groups. Members searched houses to arrest and intimidate those connected to the underground independence network and persecuted people they suspected to be involved in the organization of demonstrations. They were informants for the military and acted as intelligence operatives to collect information on and threaten independence supporters. With the support of the military, the PGM took control over criminal network activities in Dili (smuggling, gambling, protection rackets). An advantage for the government was that the group could be deployed with more flexibility and could react faster than regular forces.
Organisation: Funding for the group was provided by the military (particularly Kopassus). Eurico Gutterres was the de facto leader of the group and became its formal leader in 1999. The PGM’s chairman was Marcal de Almeida. There were also links to criminal networks. Prabowo Subianto played a major role in establishing the group.
Weapons and Training: Gada Paksi received (paramilitary) training and equipment from the special forces (Kopassus). It was armed with guns.
Size: It is reported that in early 1996 the group had about 1,100 members and that in April there was the plan to add 1,200 more per year. Another source in 1998 reports that the group had over 800 members.
Reason for Membership: This locally recruited youth group gave members the false prospect of receiving vocational training and a job, which could have constituted an incentive to join the group for unemployed youths. Control of the group over criminal activities such as smuggling, protection rackets and gambling may potentially also have served as a motivation for individuals to become members.
Treatment of Civilians: The group persecuted, intimidated and threatened suspected pro-independence supporters, stormed and searched their and their relatives’ homes, arrested and spied on them. It is responsible for illegal detentions, harassment, abductions and extra-judicial killings. There is one reported instance of members beating suspects. Generally, the group caused disturbances and terrorized the town of Dili by throwing rocks, setting houses on fire and building roadblocks. It was also involved in smuggling, gambling and protection rackets.
Other Information: Spelled as Garda Paksi or Gada Paksi (full name: Garda Muda Penegak Integrasi, Youth Guards to Uphold Integration). See also Aitarak.
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.