|Subject: AFP: Concrete steps needed to change
climate of fear in East Timor: UN
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 09:15:58 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Concrete steps needed to change climate of fear in East Timor: UN
DILI, East Timor, July 11 (AFP) - A climate of fear and intimidation still reigns in East Timor and unless that changes a UN-conducted vote on self-determination will not go ahead there, a UN envoy said Sunday.
"An awful lot of work remains to be done before we can carry out the consultation in a free and fair environment which is what the United Nations is determined to do," Francesc Vendrell, a special envoy of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said.
"I am very saddened indeed ... (to) find that there still reigns a climate of fear and intimidation," he told a press conference here.
Vendrell was speaking after Annan announced overnight he had ordered a three-day delay in voter registration in East Timor, mainly because armed Indonesian-backed militias were roaming the territory with impunity.
Annan said in a report to the Security Council Saturday that registration would start on Friday, July 16 instead of on Tuesday as originally scheduled -- but only if concrete improvements in the security climate were evident before then.
Asked what would happen if conditions did not improve drastically by Friday, UNAMET chief Ian Martin said the decision would be up to the Secretary General.
"There has to be some meaningful and visible progress on the security front (if registration is to go ahead on Friday)," he said.
"General Wiranto ...will be here tomorrow ... that's an important opportunity for instructions to be given for a rapid improvement," he said.
Dino Djalal, the head of the Indonesian task force in East Timor, who said he had yet to receive the news officially, reacted with incredulity to the three-day extension.
"What can three days do really. I don't see the logic in that," Djalal told AFP here.
But he said, without elaborating, that "a lot of things are being undertaken. You'll see them in the near future especially with this visit by the ministers," a reference to the visit by Wiranto, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and six other top cabinet members.
Jose Pereira Gomez, the head of the Portuguese observer delegation here told AFP it remained to be seen if so much could be done in three days.
"I mean if there is a determination from the Indonesian side to improve the situation they can do a lot."
"I think the Indonesian government is really committed to improve the situation. I hope that by Friday the 16th we will have an environment of security that will allow this process to start," Gomez said.
Under an agreement signed with the United Nations in New York in May, Portugal, the territory's old colonial masters, and Indonesia which invaded East Timor in 1975, agreed East Timorese could vote in August to decide on whether to accept an Indonesian offer of integration with autonomy.
But since then both pro-independence East Timorese and the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) have come under attack by the militia forcing Annan last month to delay the vote by two weeks.
The original date of August 8 for the vote has already been moved forward to between August 21-23, and that too could still be reviewed.
Martin refused to go into detail on what UNAMET expected.
But he cited Annan's report as saying armed civilian groups must be brought under control and the condition of tens of thousands of internal refugees improved.
Annan also stipulated, Martin said, "the redeployment of the Indonesian military and the immediate institution of a process of laying down of arms by all armed groups" both pro- and anti-independence.
Martin said he had been told President B.J. Habibie had ordered that relief aid must be able to reach the refugees.
UNAMET personnel with a relief convoy carrying medicines and rice to some 6,000 refugees last week were attacked by the militia, reinforcing the belief the militia were using food as a weapon against the refugees.
Martin said UNAMET, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would meet with the Indonesian task force in East Timor on Tuesday to discuss the problem.