Subject: JP/Wahid: Murders in W. Timor aimed at 'humiliating me'

Jakarta Post September 08, 2000

Murder aimed at 'humiliating me'

NEW YORK (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid said here on Wednesday (local time) that the murder of three UN humanitarian workers in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara, was a well organized scheme to humiliate him while attending an international summit.

Abdurrahman said the timing of the attack had been carefully chosen to coincide with his visit to the United Nations' Millennium Summit.

"The timing was precisely selected while I was in New York. The purpose was to humiliate me," the President told journalists after receiving a group of American businessmen at the Regal UN Plaza Hotel where he is staying during the five-day visit.

Officials close to the President said that Abdurrahman was furious with the savage attack as it occurred only a few hours before the opening of the Summit earlier in the day, which was attended by about 150 heads of state and government.

Abdurrahman said that he had instructed the Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Adm. Widodo A.S. to arrest those who were responsible for the attack. He added that he had ordered military and police chiefs in Jakarta to deploy two battalions of troops from the Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) and the elite Police's Mobile Brigade to Atambua to restore order.

The three UN workers were killed when a mob of thousands stormed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Atambua, East Nusa Tenggara on Wednesday.

Atambua, a border town located on the western half of Timor island, has a high concentration of East Timor refugees.

The mob apparently attacked the UN office after hearing news that former militia leader Olivio Moruk had been slain the previous night. Olivio was also one of the 19 suspects named in the case of rights abusers during last year's violence in East Timor.

Abdurrahman expressed regret over the death of the UN workers and conveyed condolences to the families of the deceased.

"We regret what has happened and I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the victims," he told journalists before entering the summit venue.

Abdurrahman is expected to convey his official condolences and explanation of the attack to the international community when he addresses the Summit on Friday morning.


In Jakarta, top government officials expressed regret at the death of the UN workers and vowed to thoroughly investigate the incident.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said it was an unexpected incident amid the government's efforts to improve protection for international institutions and foreigners in Indonesia.

"The government is deeply concerned over the incident and expresses its deep condolences," he told journalists on Thursday.

Susilo said the incident occurred when a demonstration to protest the killing of Olivio turned violent.

He said he was coordinating with TNI Chief Widodo, National Police Chief Gen. Rusdihardjo, Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, chief of the Udayana Military Command, the East Nusa Tenggara Military District and the provincial administration to investigate the attack and restore security and order in the regency bordering East Timor.

"The situation is now under control after a battalion of troops and several companies of police were deployed on Wednesday," he said.

He called on the UN Transition Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to be cooperative in creating a conducive climate along the border to avoid similar incidents in the future.

"Through UNTAET, the government also calls on East Timorese figures to stop making political statements that raise political tension along the border," he said.

He added that two people were killed in a separate conflict between refugees and locals for unclear reasons in Atambua on Wednesday evening.

Susilo said a joint team from the Military Police and National Police has arrested 15 refugees who were suspected of being involved in the violence and a man suspected of killing the militia leader.

Asked about possible political motives behind the violence and Olivio's murder, Susilo said he has yet to receive such evidence.

"The investigation is expected to reveal whether the incidents are politically motivated to discredit Abdurrahman Wahid's government," he said.

Separately police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo admitted that police failed to anticipate the aftermath of the murder of the ex-militia leader.

"After the murder (of Olivio), the situation escalated so fast that we did not have a chance to secure the UNHCR office," Rusdihardjo told reporters at police headquarters.

Rusdihardjo could not understand why the mob began attacking the UN office: "Why should the UNHCR be the target of the attack?"

Separately House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung said the government could not be held accountable for the attack on the UNHCR office because it was committed by persons having no links with Indonesia.

According to him, the incident was committed by East Timorese who were disappointed with the current situation in the former Indonesian territory.(rms/byg/prb/jaw)

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