Subject: CNS: CRS denounces killings in West Timor

Sep-7-2000 CRS denounces killings in West Timor, reaffirms aid commitment By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic Relief Services denounced the killings of three U.N. international workers in West Timor but reaffirmed its commitment to relief efforts in the region.

``Our commitment to the people of East and West Timor remains firm,'' said Kenneth Hackett, executive director of CRS, the U.S. bishops' international relief and development agency, in a Sept. 6 statement from the agency's Baltimore headquarters.

He urged western governments, the United Nations and the Indonesian government to ``address the potential for increased violence in East and West Timor.'' He added that CRS was beginning an assessment to ensure the safety of its staff and to make recommendations to the United Nations and Indonesian government on establishing stability for the Timorese people.

CRS has worked in East Timor for more than 30 years and has been aiding the nearly 170,000 East Timorese refugees who remain in camps in West Timor. The refugees fled violence by Indonesian military and militia groups after East Timor voted in favor of independence from Indonesia in August 1999.

``The world in which CRS operates continues to be wracked by violence and instability,'' said Hackett. ``We must not, however, become numb to the senseless violence that is occurring in East and West Timor. Until there is stability and security for all of its citizens, the people on that island will not be able to begin to rebuild their lives.''

An angry mob of thousands of pro-Indonesian militia and East Timorese refugees attacked the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees office in Atambua Sept. 6, killing three U.N. staff.

The UNHCR suspended humanitarian work among refugees in West Timor after an Aug. 22 militia attack injured staff members, but resumed work in early September after assurances of protection from the Indonesian government.

The latest attack was apparently sparked by the brutal killing of Olivio Mendosa Moruk, a former leader of the Pasukan Pejuang Timor Timur (East Timor Fighting Troops), which supported East Timor's integration with Indonesia, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand.

Moruk, 45, also former commander of a pro-Indonesian militia in East Timor, was killed Sept. 5 by unknown assailants in his house in Umato'os village in southern Belu, West Timor, near the East Timor border. Reports said his body was found headless with other severe mutilations.

Moruk was among 19 suspects named for investigation by the attorney general's office Sept. 1 in relation to last year's violence in East Timor.

Carrying homemade and native weapons, riding cars and motorcycles, the mob of at least 5,000 people attacked the UNHCR office, burning the building and a special unit UNHCR car parked in front of the office, witnesses said.

The three U.N. staff confirmed dead -- Pero Simundza of Croatia, Samson Aregahegn of Ethiopia and Carlos Caceres-Collazo of Puerto Rico -- were reportedly hacked with machetes inside the building, with at least one of their bodies dragged out and burned in front of the office. Another unidentified humanitarian worker was also reported killed.

According to a press release issued by the U.N. Representative Office in Jakarta, 55 U.N. staff in Atambua were being evacuated to Dili, East Timor, the night of Sept. 6.

Others were evacuated to Kupang, West Timor, and elsewhere in Indonesia.

Army Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri said a joint team would be formed to investigate the killings of the U.N. workers and to protect the remaining U.N. staff in Kupang.

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