Subject: AFP: US rights group says new East Timor not free of rights abuses

see also for text of HRW report.

Agence France Presse December 8, 2000, Friday

US rights group says new East Timor not free of rights abuses


East Timor's first year of freedom from Indonesia was largely devoted to rebuilding the charred country and was not free of human rights violations, a US-based human rights group said.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its annual report released Thursday that former resistance leaders, now partners in new administration, had failed to show tolerance towards dissenting groups.

"As they rebuilt, East Timorese and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor had to decide on how to handle past abuses, how to prevent new ones and how to build basic institutions to ensure the protection of human rights," it said.

Many returning East Timorese were abused for alleged links to pro-Jakarta militias which terrorised the nascent country's refugees, the report said.

"Members of the country's Muslim, Protestant and ethnic Chinese minorities found themselves persecuted because of suspected ties to the Indonesian power structure.

"CNRT (National Council of East Timorese Resistance) leaders were not always tolerant of political organisations with viewpoints different from their own," the HRW report said.

It said although the vast majority of the more than 170,000 who had returned from Indonesian West Timor had done so safely, those suspected of links to pro-Jakarta militias or the army "sometimes faced mob violence."

East Timorese in their hundreds of thousands fled their homes during the wave of terror and arson blamed on militias trained by the Indonesian army after the territory's independence vote on August 30, 1999.

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