Subject: E Timor Condemns Indonesian Troop Build-up
Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 12:42:01 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For Immediate Release Contact: John M. Miller; (718)596-7668
East Timor Action Network Condemns Indonesian Troop Build-Up in East Timor Preparation for Offensive Comes in Advance of UN Talks
October 6, 1998 -- The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today condemned a massive build-up of Indonesian troops in East Timor. ETAN called on the Indonesian government to allow international monitors to survey the number and location of any troops on the ground and to verify troop withdrawals.
"The build-up of Indonesian troops shows extreme bad faith as Indonesia sits down to UN-sponsored talks on the territory here in New York," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for the East Timor Action Network.
"Instead of threatening a military attack on the East Timorese, Indonesia should be negotiating with them to schedule an internationally-supervised referendum on self-determination," he added.
According to reports received from East Timor and diplomatic sources in Jakarta, large numbers of Indonesian troops have entered East Timor in recent months. This escalation contradicts publicly announced plans to reduce the number of soldiers in the territory. In August, to great fanfare, Indonesia said it was withdrawing 1000 troops from East Timor, but this was part of a normal troop rotation.
"Without outside monitoring, the international community should take any future announcements of troop withdrawals with a grain of salt," said Miller.
The troop increase comes as Indonesia and Portugal prepare to negotiate the details of a limited autonomy for East Timor. Talks on the autonomy plan began on October 6 at United Nations headquarters and are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. East Timorese leaders, who are not direct participants in the negotiations, say they reject any plan that does not lead to a referendum on their political status. In spite of the military build-up, East Timorese continue to express their desire for a referendum in public meetings throughout the territory.
As recently as today, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Ali Alatas has said that "Indonesia will not accept a referendum." Portugal has said it will not compromise on the principle of self-determination.
Local residents report an increased troop presence in the districts of Manatuto, Viqueque, Baucau and Los Palos. An estimated 8000 troops have entered East Timor since August, according to the East Timor International Support Center.
Based on their location and movements, the troops have been deployed to try to capture or kill remnants of Falintial, the guerrilla movement of the East Timorese resistance. Falintil has observed a unilateral ceasefire since last April.
Indonesia's President Habibie promised East Timorese Bishop and Nobel Laureate Carlos Ximenes Belo to reduce the number of troops in the region.
On December 7, 1975, Indonesia brutally invaded East Timor and formally annexed the territory the following July. The UN and most of the world's countries do not recognize this act, and the East Timorese reject it. According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church of East Timor more than 200,000 one-third of the population have been killed by the Indonesian occupation forces.
The East Timor Action Network/US was founded in November 1991, following the massacre of more than 271 peaceful demonstrators in Dili, East Timor. ETAN/US supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor in accordance with the UN Charter and General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. ETAN has 20 local chapters