Subject: AP: East Timor envoy: Militiamen wanted in violence trying to flee toIndonesia

East Timor envoy: Militiamen wanted in violence trying to flee toIndonesia

12/10/2002 14:46:15

By PRISCILLA CHEUNG Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Some alleged attackers involved in riots that left two students dead have sought refuge in Indonesia, East Timor's U.N. ambassador said Tuesday, citing preliminary results of an investigation into last week's violence. Jose Luis Guterres blamed the pro-Indonesian militiamen for the country's worst violence since it gained independence in May.

``Most of the bullets that killed the students are not the ones from the police force,'' he said at a news conference. There is a ``great feeling that the elements involved in these riots, some of them are seeking refuge in West Timor,'' the Indonesian province bordering East Timor, he said.

Indonesia's military and its militia proxies, many active in West Timor, went on a rampage when East Timor voted for independence in 1999 in a U.N.-administered referendum. The bloodletting that left hundreds dead only stopped when international peacekeepers arrived shortly after the vote.

Last week's riots raised fears that violence could return at a time when the country is in desperate need of foreign aid and investment to rebuild from the ruins after decades of unrest.

``The situation now is calm,'' Guterres said. He said investigators are expected to release their report in a few days.

Last Wednesday, a student demonstration turned violent when two people were killed by gunfire. The protest turned into a rampage in which several shops and hotels were looted and burned. The students were protesting the arrest of one of their peers for alleged gang violence a day earlier.

The rioting highlighted rising discontent by the legions of poor people in East Timor, which gained full independence in May after a period of transitional rule by the United Nations that ended Indonesia's brutal 24-year occupation.

The ambassador said that East Timor authorities may seek the cooperation of Indonesia in bringing the attackers to justice.

``If the commission finishes its work, if the government can seek the arrest of these people, we believe the Indonesian authorities will do it,'' he said.

On Tuesday, East Timor became the 20th country to sign an agreement for the protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families, putting the treaty into effect 12 years after its adoption by the U.N. General Assembly.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, praised East Timor's speedy ratification of several human rights treaties just three months after it became an independent country and U.N. member.

``It shows that small and weak nations ... are just as committed to international law,'' he said at the briefing. Vieira de Mello became human rights commissioner in September following a three-year stint as the world body's main administrator in East Timor.


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