Subject: E. Timor Border at 'Flashpoint;' TNI-Backed Mob Attacks Patrol [3
Thursday, October 20, 2005
E. Timor Border at 'Flashpoint'
By Mark Dodd
A MOB backed by Indonesian troops has crossed into East Timor, attacked a border patrol and set fire to buildings, threatening the fragile peace between the two nations.
The incident on Saturday in the Oecussi enclave, detailed in a UN cable seen by The Australian, poses a nightmare scenario for Canberra.
The cable - sent on Monday by UN chief in East Timor Sukehiro Hasegawa to head of peacekeeping operations Jean Marie Guehenno in New York - accuses the Indonesian military (TNI) of provoking multiple border violations in Oecussi.
Mr Hasegawa warns Dili has threatened to pull out of the East Timor-Indonesia Truth and Friendship Commission, following the collapse of tense border takes because of Jakarta's failure to stop incursions by the feared "Okto" militia that started at the beginning of the month.
He expressed grave concern at the prospects of an escalation in violence after the breakdown in the talks, aimed at securing an agreement on a border demarcation for the enclave.
On Saturday, two East Timorese police were wounded and forced to fire 15 warning shots after they were attacked by a mob of 200 Indonesian villagers, armed with stones and improvised weapons, who had advanced almost 1km across the border from Manusasi.
"Seven TNI soldiers were seen at the rear of the group, clearly condoning, if not encouraging, this action," he says.
Mr Hasegawa says he received a telephone call from East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta threatening to pull out of the CTF. "Horta did not hide his anger as he found arrogance and intransigence in the behaviour of some TNI elements and inability of the government to control them."
Opposed by the Catholic Church and unpopular with the East Timorese populace, the CTF commits the two countries to co-operate in the investigation of the mayhem before and after the 1999 UN-backed independence referendum.
Diplomatic sources told The Australian that if Dili withdrew from the TCF, relations between East Timor and Indonesia could plunge into crisis.
Mr Hasegawa warns the border is at flashpoint, saying Jakarta has deployed the notorious Battalion 745 - implicated in the 1999 murder of church workers and Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes - on garrison duty along the West Timor frontier.
The Australian yesterday reported on a cable sent by Mr Hasegawa last Wednesday in which he reports violent border incursions on October 4 and 9 by the "Okto" militia.
This is most likely the militia led by Moko Soares, who took part in the massacre of 47 East Timorese men at Passabe in 1999 and is believed responsible for several gun battles with Australian peacekeepers in Oecussi.
Border incursions threaten East Timor peace: report
TIMOR SYDNEY, October 20 (AAP) - Border incursions by the Indonesian military are threatening the fragile peace in East Timor, according to a United Nations document.
The UN cable, sent on Monday by UN chief in East Timor Sukehiro Hasegawa to head of peacekeeping operations Jean Marie Guehenno in New York, is reported in News Ltd newspapers today.
Mr Hasegawa said on Saturday a mob backed by Indonesian troops crossed into the Oecussi in East Timor, attacked a border patrol and set fire to buildings.
He said two East Timorese police were wounded and forced to fire warning shots after they were attacked by a mob of 200 Indonesian villagers.
Seven Indonesian soldiers were seen at the rear of the group "clearly condoning, if not encouraging" the action, he said.
Mr Hasegawa said Dili has threatened to pull out of the East Timor-Indonesia Truth and Friendship Commission because of Jakarta's failure to stop incursions.
BBC Monitoring International Reports October 19, 2005 Source: Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 1005 gmt 19 Oct 05
East Timor minister praises Indonesian cooperation over border incidents
Excerpt from "Asia-Pacific" report by Radio Australia on 19 October
[Presenter Sen Lam] First, tensions again on the East Timor border with Indonesia. The United Nations special representative to East Timor says the border region with Indonesian West Timor is tense but refused to confirm media reports that pro-Indonesia militias were behind recent incidents. Dr Sukehiro Hasegawa says investigations by East Timor's Border Patrol Unit are under way, with full cooperation of the Indonesian military.
A report in The Australian newspaper had said that pro-Indonesian militia had resurfaced in East Timor, provoking violence and tension in the region, in the Oecussi enclave. A short while ago I spoke with UN special representative in East Timor Dr Sukehiro Hasegawa. [passage omitted]
[To Hasegawa] So what have your investigations turned up so far? Are you any clearer as to who might be responsible for the increased violence and tensions along the border and in the border regions?
[Hasegawa] There are people who are taking a lead in mobilizing these villagers. We have not yet identified a specific group of individuals as such. This is being carried out by the PNTL [Policia Nationale Timor Leste] Border Patrol Unit, as well as other police and the military officers.
[Sen Lam] This is the East Timorese Border Patrol Unit?
[Hasegawa] Yes, this is the Timorese Border Patrol Unit, BPU.
[Sen Lam] And might we expect greater cooperation with the Indonesian military regarding this issue? Will any attempt be made to consult the Indonesian military, to further secure the border with East Timor?
[Hasegawa] Yes, there is a very systematic cooperation carried out by the Timorese Border Patrol Unit with the Indonesian military authorities, the TNI group, yes. They met and they discussed with their Timorese counterparts how to increase the cooperation between the two countries to reduce the incidents of the nature that we all are concerned [about].
[Sen Lam] East Timor's foreign minister will visit the region tomorrow with Dr Hasegawa, but he says the tour was planned some months back. Jose Ramos Horta says East Timor's security is not under threat by pro-Indonesia militias and that the Indonesian military is giving its full cooperation in securing the border.
Speaking from Dili a short while ago, Mr Ramos Horta said recent tensions originated from West Timor over land.
[Ramos Horta] The report that I have seen - in The Australian, if I'm not mistaken - seemed to be largely quite accurate, reflecting some of the tensions that have arisen in Oecussi, the district of Oecussi, throughout the month of September and October. However, I do not believe that the (?prominence) of the so-called militias who are living in West Timor presents any security threat to East Timor.
Yes, there have been some ex-militia elements who were sighted in Oecussi, near the area where there have been some incidents involving local population from the Indonesian side entering our territory, burning crops. But this does not seem to be a systematic attempt by ex-militias to destabilize the border area.
The Indonesian side obviously is acting in good faith. We have the greatest faith in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. We cannot forget that the last several years, overall the border has been very peaceful. It has to be credit to the Indonesian military leadership.
[Sen Lam] So you share the UN special representative Dr Hasegawa's confidence that the Indonesian military is giving its full cooperation with East Timor's Border Patrol Unit?
[Ramos Horta] Yes, certainly. I have trust in the leadership of the TNI, in the Indonesian authorities. I do not believe that it is the policy of the TNI to support the militias. There are militias in West Timor and I hope that the leadership of the TNI will take stronger action to prevent any militias from attempting to destabilize East Timor. And I don't think that will happen. They don't have the power, the resources to do it.
The problem has more to do with the civilian population on our side and their side. It is the communities living along the side [as heard] that have to engage in dialogue, to resolve any claims and counter-claims they have in terms of resources, in terms of land, through dialogue and a peaceful manner, rather than entering a territory and burn property belonging to one side or another.
The reality is that the incidents that have happened from September to here - at least three or four incidents - all occur, caused by the other side. Indonesian civilians entering our territory, not the other way around. So it is up to the Indonesian authorities, the military leadership, to prevent this from occurring again. And I believe they are acting in good faith and they will do their best to prevent this problem from occurring. We have the best relationship with the TNI, with the Indonesian authorities, and we want to keep it that way.