Indonesia Appoints New Military Advisor -- Panjaitan Responsible for East Timor Massacre

June 22, 1998


The general who oversaw the troops who opened fire on civilians during a memorial service was appointed senior military advisor by B.J. Habibie. Lieutenant General Sintong Panjaitan oversaw the 1991 slaughter of 271 East Timorese and their supporters during a memorial service in Dili. His appointment comes on the heels of Mr. Habibie’s promises to improve Indonesia’s human rights record.

In 1994 General Panjaitan was ordered by a Federal District Court judge in Boston to pay $14 million in damages to the mother of a 20-year New Zealand man who was among those killed. The suit was filed in Boston after Panjaitan moved there for studies at Boston University. The general, who fled the U.S. and did not contest the suit, is alleged to have laughed when he heard news of the court’s decision, dismissing the verdict as a "joke."


  • Michael Ratner, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. He was one of the lawyers who brought the suit against Gen. Panjaitan.
  • Helen Todd, the mother of Kamal Bamadhaj, one of the civilians killed in the 1991 massacre.