Subject: Pro-Indon militia cancels 'massive' protest at U.N. E. Timor mission

Deutsche Presse-Agentur September 4, 2000,

Pro- Indonesia group drops rally at U.N. East Timor mission


A hard-line anti-independence group cancelled a threatened mass protest on Monday at the U.N.'s East Timor mission in eastern Indonesia, easing fears of possible attacks on U.N. staff.

The group, led by notorious East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres, had sent a letter last week promising a massive demonstration unless the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) closed its office in Kupang, the capital of neighbouring Indonesian West Timor.

Kupang is the base for remaining pro-Jakarta militias who were pushed out of East Timor by international peace-keepers after the territory voted for independence one year ago last week.

The militias now effectively run West Timor and are forcibly preventing more than 120,000 East Timorese refugees from returning home.

U.N. staff in Kupang had feared possible attacks by pro-integration protesters on Monday, following a violent rampage last week in which they attacked a local legislature building and beat up several journalists.

Two weeks ago, militiamen attacked staff of the U.N. refugee agency in West Timor, prompting the agency to shut down for six days.

"It's very quiet here at the moment," said Timothy Hudner, an official at the UNTAET mission in Kupang. "There were lots of rumours that (the demonstration) was going to happen."

He said the U.N. averted the demonstration by holding talks with low-level members of the pro-autonomy group Uni Timor Aswain (UNTAS), who ultimately withdrew their demand that the mission be closed.

"In return, we said we would write a letter for them outlining points ... that we said we would do to improve our relationship," Hudner said.

He said UNTAET also planned to organize meetings within a month between pro-autonomy members, the U.N. and members of East Timor's victorious armed independence movement, Falintil, to discuss reconciliation.

"The UNTAS I have been talking to are very reasonable, highly educated people that want a political solution to the problem," Hudner said.

He said he did not think the group was linked to militiamen who continue to launch cross-border raids into East Timor, or those preventing refugees from returning home.

Meanwhile, a separate group of pro- Indonesia East Timorese continued a "hunger strike" outside the UNTAET mission in Kupang on Monday, saying they would not eat until the office closed.

However, U.N. staff said the hunger strikers were seen eating and drinking when local journalists were not around.

In Jakarta, a small group of pro- Indonesia East Timorese protested outside the U.N. headquarters, demanding the world body acknowledge that it rigged East Timor's independence vote.

Pro-Jakarta groups and many in the Indonesian military and government continue to disbelieve that nearly 80 per cent of the territory's 800,000 people voted for independence.

The wide margin was mainly due to the brutal treatment the East Timorese suffered at the hands of the Indonesian military, which invaded the territory in 1975 and annexed it a year later.

Militiamen and Indonesian military units launched a murder, rape and arson spree in East Timor after the independence ballot on August 30, 1999, destroying around 80 per cent of the territory's buildings and killing as many as 1,200 people.

The carnage stopped three weeks later only after an Australian-led peace-keeping force arrived to restore order.

The Indonesian government last week announced a list of 19 suspects it would investigate for the violence, including three military and police generals. dpa jc jh

EDITOR-NOTE: Eds: adds details, quotes

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