|Subject: RT: East Timor Rights Groups Urge
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:53:51 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
East Timor Rights Groups Urge Peacekeeping Force 12:55 a.m. Apr 29, 1999 Eastern
DILI, East Timor (Reuters) - East Timorese human rights groups Thursday called for a United Nations peacekeeping force and the disarming of all warring factions amid mounting bloodshed in the battered territory.
The eight groups said violence by pro-Jakarta militias, backed by the armed forces (ABRI), was rising sharply ahead of an August 8 U.N.-run vote on whether to accept an autonomy package being offered by Indonesia.
``Contrary to statements of the Indonesian government which assure a peaceful solution to the East Timor problem, the incidence of violence is on the rise,'' they said in a joint appeal presented to visiting British Junior Foreign Office Minister Derek Fatchett, released publicly Thursday.
``Particularly concerning is the targeting of civilians.
``Killings, terror and intimidation by the militia in East Timor have had a great affect on the people of East Timor. Hundreds have been killed and wounded.''
The U.N. will send foreign police to East Timor within weeks for the autonomy vote, but Indonesia insisted they will act only as advisers and not become a U.N. peacekeeping force.
Loyalist militia have vowed to try to block the U.N. ballot and to fight to the death to keep the eastern half of Timor island as part of Indonesia.
Indonesian rule of the former Portuguese territory after a 1975 invasion has never been recognized by the United Nations or much of the world community.
Under mounting international pressure, Indonesian President B.J. Habibie Tuesday approved a U.N.-brokered agreement with Portugal on an autonomy offer to be put to East Timorese.
Habibie has said Jakarta may let the territory of 800,000 people go it alone if East Timorese reject his offer of enhanced autonomy within Indonesia.
Habibie's abandonment of 23 years of Indonesian refusal to consider independence prompted pro-Jakarta militias to step up their attacks, mainly on civilians.
In the latest incident, several people were killed near the southern town of Suai, 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Dili, last week.
Church and human rights officials say up to 100 people were killed by militiamen. Military officials and militia leaders say no-one was killed.
In their joint appeal, the human rights groups urged an immediate United Nations peacekeeping force, disarmament of the militias and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops, followed by the disarming of pro-independence guerrillas.