|Subject: Carter Center: Weekly Report on East Timor,
No. 1 July 11 - 17, 1999
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:23:44 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[scanned from fax]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, July 20, 1999
Contact: In Atlanta, Deanna Congileo 404-420-5108
In Dili, Brent Preston or Gillian Flies 62 390 313 777
Carter Center Weekly Report on East Timor, No. 1 July 11 - 17.1999
Large Turnout far Registration despite Continuing Security Concerns
(Background: Former U.S, President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center are closely monitoring the public consultation process on autonomy in East Timor. The Center opened an office with two observers in Dili on July 4, They will be joined next week by eight long-term observers, who will travel throughout East Timor to assess preparations for the vote, the security environment, and the fairness of the campaign, while remaining strictly neutral and nonpartisan. The following is the first of a series of weekly reports to be issued by The Carter Center observer mission before and after the consultation).
Dili, East Timor.... The past week saw a significant decrease in the level of intimidation and violence directed at personnel of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) who are supervising the upcoming popular consultation. However, the security situation for the people of East Timor does not seem to have improved significantly.
Initial reports on voter registration, which began on July 16, indicate potential voters flooded registration centers all across East Timor during the first few days of voter registration. The Carter Center is greatly encouraged by the opening of registration and the high turnout so far. Clearly, the large majority of the people of East Timor are committed to participating in a peaceful. fair and democratic consultation.
However. this commitment is being severely tested by an atmosphere of violence, intimidation, and insecurity that continues to pervade most areas of East Timor. Information gathered in direct interviews during field visits by Carter Center observers and from other independent reports from all parts of East Timor, indicate that pro-integration militias in many areas are threatening to harm or kill those who do not vote for autonomy. Similar reports indicate that the militias also are largely responsible for creating tens of thousands of internally displaced persons and preventing them from returning to their homes to participate in the consultation.
This report is based on field visits to Liquica and Ermera districts during the past several days, including observation of the opening of registration, and on meetings in Jakarta and Dili with senior Indonesian Government, military and police officials; members of the Indonesian Government Task Force for the Implementation of the Popular Consultation; the Commission for Peace and Stability; Timorese non-governmental organizations; UNAMET officials; representatives of international organizations; diplomats: members of pro-autonomy groups (which favor integration into Indonesia); and members of pro-independence groups.
The Carter Center is particularly concerned about the following problems, which must be addressed to ensure that conditions established by the May 5 New York Agreements for the popular consultation are met:
* Intimidation of Voters. While all sides must accept some responsibility for the hostile climate that now prevails. our interviews and other independent reports indicate that responsibility for the large majority of incidents of intimidation and violence lies with pro-integration militias. These groups are subjecting potential voters to an intense and systematic campaign of intimidation in an attempt to influence the outcome of the consultation. Individuals interviewed by The Carter Center observers spoke uniformly about widespread harassment and intimidation by the militia, and described similar incidents of militia visiting people at their homes at night and threatening violence after the poll if autonomy is rejected. Similar reports from other independent groups indicate such incidents are occurring throughout East Timor.
According to paragraph I of the Security Agreement. the appropriate Indonesian security forces are responsible for ensuring a secure environment devoid of violence and intimidation. In addition, paragraph 4 provides that the Indonesian police are solely responsible for the maintenance of law and order during the consultation process. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that the Indonesian Police have been successful in improving the security situation. For the conditions of the New York Agreements to be fulfilled, the activities of violent militia groups must be curtailed.
* Internally Displaced Persons. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has documented the existence of more than 32,000 internally displaced persons in East Timor, most of whom report having been driven from their homes in the past six months by pro-integration militias as a direct result of their presumed political beliefs. It appears little is being done to facilitate their safe return to their homes. Some militia leaders have openly stated that they will not permit internally displaced persons to return home until after the completion of the consultation.
For internally displaced persons to be able to participate in the consultation as provided in the New York Agreements, it is essential that adequate security conditions exist for all of them to return to their homes immediately and to ensure that no others are driven from their home by violence and intimidation.
* Active Campaign for Autonomy. According to many credible observers, elements of the Indonesian Government and military continue to campaign for the autonomy option in violation of the New York Agreements. One senior army leader in Dili admitted that the military is actively promoting the autonomy package and distributing food and services to people to encourage votes for autonomy.
Such practices are in violation of paragraph 1 of the Security Agreement which establishes that the absolute neutrality of the Indonesian armed forces and the Indonesian police is essential. Similarly, the "Agreement on Modalities for the Popular Consultation" provides that officials of the Indonesian Government will not participate in the campaign in support for either option. It is imperative that all sides abide by these commitments
* Need for Redeployment. Although senior military commanders indicated to Carter Center observers that all military forces in East Timor will be confined to their barracks in advance of the consultation, no timetable for this redeployment has been established and military units continue to operate throughout the territory. To improve the current climate of fear, a timetable for completion of the redeployment of the Indonesia military should be established and implemented.