Subject: TAPOL demands UNSC intervention and arms embargo in response to Timor killings

Press release


8 September 2000 - Citing UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sadako Ogata's description of Wednesday's killing of three humanitarian workers in West Timor by pro-Indonesian militias as 'a barbaric act,… the worst security incident ever to face the UNHCR', TAPOL President, Lord Avebury, has demanded UN Security Council intervention and the re-imposition of military sanctions to end the intolerable situation in the Indonesian territory.

In a letter to Foreign Office Minister, John Battle, referring to the High Commissioner's statement that 'words are no longer enough', Avebury called upon the British Government to propose a resolution in the UN Security Council calling upon the Indonesian Government to dismiss the regional military commander, Kiki Syahnakri, arrest prominent militia leader Eurico Guterres, disarm and disband the militias, ensure the safe repatriation of all East Timorese refugees who wish to return home and establish an international tribunal to try those suspected of involvement in crimes against humanity in East and West Timor.

Comparing the situation in West Timor with that in East Timor last September when the European Union imposed a four-month arms embargo on Indonesia, Avebury also called for the British Government to re-impose a ban on arms sales and military training and to encourage its European partners to do the same. The US still maintains the embargo it imposed in response to last year's violence.

Avebury warned that the 'evacuation of most international aid and humanitarian workers [following the killings] will leave the 100,000 or so East Timorese refugees remaining in West Timor at the mercy of the militias who will be free to sustain their murderous reign of terror with impunity'.

He described the situation in West Timor as close to anarchy and reiterated TAPOL's concern that the militias and the military officers who support them with training and arms will continue to act with impunity unless they are held to account for their crimes.

At least five people, including the three UNHCR workers, were killed on Wednesday 6 September when a militia-led mob attacked the agency's office in Atambua, close to the border with East Timor. The UNHCR has suffered numerous previous attacks on its staff, and from 22 to 29 August was forced to suspend its operations in response to the violence and intimidation.

Following East Timor's overwhelming vote in favour of independence on 30 August last year, a wave of violence was unleashed by Indonesian military-backed militias. Hundreds were killed and around 250,000 East Timorese were forcibly deported to West Timor where they had to survive in squalid militia-controlled refugee camps. Although many have been repatriated with the assistance of the UNHCR, more than 100,000 still remain in West Timor.

For interviews and a copy of the letter to John Battle, contact Carmel Budiardjo on 020 8771 2904 or Paul Barber on 01420 80153

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email: Internet: 
Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia and East Timor, 1973-2000

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