|Subject: AU: Diggers in Timor 'sex' clash
Diggers in Timor 'sex' clash Mark Dodd 21mar05
AUSTRALIAN soldiers drew arms to protect themselves from Jordanian peacekeepers after a Digger blew the whistle on other Jordanian soldiers' sexual abuse of East Timorese boys.
Corporal Andrew Wratten had to be evacuated and Australian commandos sent to protect Diggers in Oecussi, an East Timorese province in Indonesian West Timor, after he told the UN of the pedophilia that occurred in May 2001.
The Australians drew their Steyr assault rifles after being confronted by Jordanians armed with M-16s, in an escalation of verbal threats triggered by the later betrayal of Corporal Wratten by a Jordanian officer in the Dili headquarters of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.
Corporal Wratten, who was working at a fuel dump in the enclave, was told by a group of children that Jordanian soldiers had offered food and money in exchange for oral sex and intercourse.
The allegations involved East Timorese minors, all boys, the youngest of them just 12 years old.
"Wratten informed PKF (peacekeeping force) that he had been receiving complaints from local children about Jorbatt (Jordan Battalion) abuse," said a senior UN official who was based in Oecussi at the time.
"A Jordanian officer in HQ informed Jorbatt that he had ratted on them. Wratten and his guys manning the helo (helicopter) refuelling pad in Oecussi town started getting threatened.
"There was one occasion where Aussie Steyrs were pointed at Jorbatt and Jor-batt M-16s pointed at Aussies."
A secret report into the abuse, obtained by The Australian, led to the expulsion of two Jordanian peacekeepers after an investigation ordered by then UNTAET chief, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, in July 2001.
East Timorese human rights workers have confirmed the story. However, retired Australian major-general Roger Powell, the deputy UN force commander at the time, did not return The Australian's calls.
"As far as I understand, De Mello was very sensitive at the time to the harm such reports would have on the reputation of UNTAET, PKF and by default himself," said one Western security analyst, based in East Timor in 2001.
Jordan's key role in Middle East peace negotiations added extra sensitivity.
In July 2001, a UN police specialist child interview team flew to Oecussi and spoke to 10 witnesses, including seven minors and three adults.
"The unacceptable sexual conduct alleged was that a minor had sperm around his mouth," the resulting report says.
The board of inquiry found in its report that Jordanian troops regularly offered food and money in exchange for sexual favours from women and boys, including the procuring of prostitutes from across the border in West Timor.
It found it was highly probable that widespread sexual misconduct had occurred after the Jordanians took over from the highly regarded Australian paratroop battalion in early 2000.