|Subject:AFP: Support group urges UN to send armed
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 09:10:35 +0000
From: The AustralAsian <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Support group urges UN to send armed peacekeepers to East Timor
JAKARTA, June 30 (AFP) - An international support group Wednesday urged the United Nations to deploy armed peacekeepers in East Timor instead of unarmed civilian police after several were injured in an attack on a UN post.
"It is imperative that an agreed armed UN peacekeeping force, multinational in nature, be deployed as soon as possible," the pro-independence East Timor International Support Center (ETISC) said.
The peacekeepers could "verify the withdrawal of the Indonesian armed forces and the disarmament of the army-sponsored paramilitaries," it said.
But in Jakarta Wednesday, Jamsheed Marker, the special envoy of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, ruled out replacing the unarmed civilian police in the troubled territory with armed peacekeepers.
Asked about the possiblity of arming UN personnel in the territory, Marker said: "At this point in time, I do not think that that is neccessary."
Calling the attackers "hoodlums," Marker said the UN would not allow the incident Tuesday, the first reported violence against the UN mission there, "to knock us off track".
"The main thing is to re-emphasize the responsibility of the Indonesian authorities, the police in particular, to fulfil their committment and obligations," he said.
He added that Indonesian government officials, the police and the military have given assurances that they will take steps to reinforce security in East Timor.
"They are not saying we cannot do it, or we will not do it, what they say is we are going to reinforce what we are doing ... they are conscious of their responsibility," Marker said.
He added, however, that he had yet to get an answer from the Indonesian police as to why they arrived some two hours after the attack started.
The ETISC, based in Darwin, Australia, also said in a statement that the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was focussing on a ballot on self determination and were "not in a position to monitor ongoing human rights abuses".
"The lack of focus on human rights on UNAMET's part means that the Indonesian army (TNI) and the Indonesian police are emboldened to commit atrocities in rural areas with the help of paramilitary thugs," it said.
"There is an urgent need for a separate international human rights monitoring mission to East Timor."
The UN agreed to send civilian police and volunteer polling officers to East Timor after Indonesia and Portugal agreed to hold a vote there on the future of the former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesian in 1975.
The agreement stipulated that the Indonesian police would be responsible for security before and during the ballot, which has been delayed from August 8 due to security concerns.
The AustralAsian For News, Views and Comments on the Asia-Pacific Visit http://www.theaustralasian.com editor: Sonny Inbaraj