Mahidi (Indonesia)

Country: Indonesia
Details of Formation: The original idea was to set up an unarmed militia to provide security for the parliamentary election in the upcoming year. However, it turned out that the group was formed by the military to allegedly defend villages from guerrillas. It is unclear if Mahidi was armed from the beginning but it was definitely armed by the end of December 1999. It was used as a pro-integration militia that received training and weapons from the army.
Details of Termination: Mahidi was officially terminated by the army in December 1999, but it continued to be active in the West Timor refugee camps (It is unclear if the group was then still armed and it was no longer with the military). In November 2000 the group returns to East Timor to be 'reconciled' with the new East Timor leadership. The PGM subsequently discloses the names of military officials who ordered the violence.
Purpose: The pro-integration group was used to perpetrate attacks on independence supporters and officially to provide security in the parliamentary elections in June 1999 and for defence against guerilla attacks. It also controlled East Timorese refugees.
Organisation: The group had links to the military and cooperated with it in operations. There were also financial and material links to the army’s special forces, Kopassus. It was led by Cancio Lopes de Carvalho.
Weapons and Training: The group was armed by the military with guns and M-16 automatic rifles. It was also trained by the military.
Size: When it was formed in December 1998 the group had about 1,000 to 2,000 members. Later sources report that the group claimed to have had 7,000 members in July 1999.
Reason for Membership: One member reports that they joined because other youth became members as well.
Treatment of Civilians: The group was involved in a church massacre of civilians in Suai on 6 September 1999, which resulted in the deaths of 27 to 200 people, as well as other attacks on civilians, causing them to flee from their homes. Civilians were killed as targets and collateral damage in anti-independence operations by the group. The PGM detained and coerced people, killing them if they did not comply with their demands, and forced them to go to West Timor. It burned down homes and controlled refugees.
Other Information: While one source claims that the group has over 7000 members, the actual number appears to be much lower. Most sources refer to a size of around 2000 members. Apparently, the group’s members also took drugs before committing violence. The militia’s name means “Live or Die with Indonesia”/“Dead or Alive for Integration”/”Dead or Alive”/”Live or Die for Integration”.
References: Amnesty International. 2009. “Public Statement. Timor-Leste: Failure to prosecute indicted militia leader reinforces urgent need for an international tribunal.” AI Index: 57/002/2009. 4 September.

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.