Subject: AP: Indonesia Urged To Disarm Militias

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Indonesia Urged To Disarm Militias 
The Associated Press, Sat 9 Sep 2000

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — With pro-Indonesia groups who terrorized East Timor last year again wreaking havoc, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said it was time to review whether an international war crimes tribunal is needed to prosecute militia leaders.

Holbrooke's comments, echoed by East Timor's independence leaders, came before the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Friday insisting Indonesia immediately disarm and disband the militias that slaughtered three U.N. aid workers in West Timor and reportedly killed another 20 civilians Thursday.

He also announced the council was sending a mission to Indonesia and East Timor to investigate the resurgence of militia activity against U.N. workers and civilians on both sides of Timor. The date for the mission's departure hasn't been set.

``We have ample evidence that the threat is increasing,'' Holbrooke said. ``We must face facts. The Indonesian military, or to be more precise, elements within the Indonesian military, are directly or indirectly responsible for these outrages.''

U.N. workers fled West Timor after a militia-led mob stormed an office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in the town of Atambua on Wednesday, killing three U.N. workers and three civilians.

The militias are the same groups that, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, wreaked destruction in East Timor after residents there voted for independence in an August 1999 referendum. The anti-independence militiamen were pushed into the western part of Timor island when U.N. peacekeepers took control in the east.

UNHCR has been caring for the tens of thousands of East Timorese who fled to West Timor during the violence that followed the vote.

In its resolution, the council condemned the deaths of the three UNHCR workers as ``outrageous and contemptible'' and insisted Indonesia immediately disarm militias, bring those responsible to justice, restore law and order and prevent militia members from crossing into East Timor.

East Timorese independence leaders Jose ``Xanana'' Gusmao and Jose Ramos-Horta, who attended the Security Council vote, welcomed the resolution, which also hinted at the possibility of U.N. participation in the prosecution of militia members.

The council in February accepted Indonesia's pledge to conduct its own inquiry into the crimes surrounding the independence vote and prosecute those responsible, despite a recommendation from a U.N. commission that it create a war crimes tribunal.

But when Indonesian prosecutors last week announced their suspects, the list did not include the former military chief accused of bearing ultimate responsibility for the violence, or a prominent milita leader.

Holbrooke said in light of the attacks and the prosecutors' exclusion of key suspects, the February decision not to establish an international tribunal or a joint U.N.-Indonesian tribunal ``must also now be reviewed.''

He said recent moves by the United States to restore military-to-military relations with Indonesia — severed after last year's violence in East Timor — also need to be reviewed.

This week's attacks led to heated criticism at the United Nations of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, in town for the U.N. Millennium Summit, which opened and closed its historic session with a minute of silence for the slain aid workers.

Wahid tried to assure world leaders that Indonesia was in control of the situation, announcing that two battalions had been deployed to West Timor and that suspects were already in custody.

``Everything is under control,'' Wahid said Friday. ``The situation now is going very well.''

But the council said Indonesia had to do more to disarm the militias that have been terrorizing East Timorese in the West Timor refugee camps and are blamed for the deaths of two U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor this summer.

Ramos-Horta, who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo, said the East Timorese still had respect and faith in Indonesia's intention to go after the militia leaders. But he said council consideration of a possible war crimes tribunal would ``strengthen the hand'' of prosecutors, even if one weren't created.

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