Dian Kurniati, Jakarta – The Presidential Palace invited 55 members of the Nanggala Team to the commemoration of the 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s proclamation of Independence at the Presidential Palace on Saturday August 17.
The Nanggala Team was part of the Reconnaissance Warfare Command (Kopassandha) Group I, which is now the army’s Special Forces unit Kopassus, that was deployed as part of the Seroja Operation in Dili, then Portuguese East Timor on December 9, 1975.
During the Independence Day commemoration, the master of ceremonies called on all the invited guests to stand and give a round of applause to the members of the Nanggala Team.
“In the past they went into battle putting their lives on the line because of their love and loyalty to the red-and-white of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia and the [state ideology] of Pancasila”, said the master of ceremonies during the event Recalling the Moments of the Proclamation of Independence. All of those present were asked to stand and give a lively round of applause.
In his description, the master of ceremonies said that the soldiers of the Nanggala Team present at the event were part of Kopassandha Group 1 which was made up of 265 members. During the invasion of Portuguese East Timor in 1975 the Nanggala Team was commanded by then First Lieutenant Sugito, who is now retired.
The Indonesian invasion of East Timor, formally a Portuguese colony, took place on December 7, 1975 on the orders of then president Suharto to defeat the pro-independence group Fratilin.
This is known as the “Seroja Operation”. Indonesian troops finally took over East Timor in 1978. During this period, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group recorded widespread violence against civilians. Through a referendum in 1999, East Timor finally separated from Indonesia and is now known as Timor Leste.
To this day there are no delimitative records on the number of victims as a result of the Seroja Operation. However the United Nation’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CVAR) in East Timor estimates that some 102,800 people died, including civilians and Indonesian military personnel.
The Presidential Palace was not prepared to comment on the Nanggala Team’s invitation to the Independence Day commemoration. Neither State Secretary Pratikno, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung nor Indonesian military commander Air Martial Hadi Tjahjanto responded when asked about the Nanggala Team’s presence at the event.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Istana Undang Prajurit Operasi Seroja pada Peringatan Kemerdekaan ke-74”.]