|Subject: AFR: E Timor sabotage coming from the top
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:50:57 -0400
From: "Charles E. Albertson" <email@example.com>
Australian Financial Review 8 July 1999
By Peter Hartcher and Tim Dodd
Australia and the US have intelligence that proves that the high command of the Indonesian army and a group of Indonesian Cabinet ministers are complicit in the violence racking East Timor.
Officials said the intelligence confirms beyond doubt that some of the most powerful elements in the Indonesian Government are determined to covertly sabotage the President's policy of offering independence to the East Timorese. Officials declined to discuss the nature of the intelligence, which was secret but variously described it as "solid" and "very good".
These rogue ministers and officers have been providing top-level support and protection for the pro-Indonesia militias in East Timor.
These are the gangs of thugs that have been intimidating and murdering independence supporters with impunity and have now started attacking the UN personnel in East Timor to supervise next month's ballot.
Their tactics, which already have forced one postponement of the ballot, yesterday threw the process into new crisis.
A UN official in New York yesterday warned that unless security conditions improved in the next few days then "we would have to postpone [the ballot] at the very least".
"We are determined to do it. We very much want to do it. But we can only do it if security conditions exist," said Mr Alvaro de Soto, the UN assistant secretary general for the Asia-Pacific region.
If the ballot is to proceed as planned on August 21 or 22, registration of voters must begin by next Tuesday. But violence has meant UN personnel are not yet in position throughout the territory.
And the pro-Indonesia militias announced a new disruptive tactic yesterday by threatening to boycott the ballot.
A spokesman for the Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice, an umbrella group for the pro-Indonesia militias and other political groups opposing independence, said that the UN mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was "caught up in [pro-independence] Fretilin's political game".
"We may ask our supporters not to co-operate in the ballot," said the spokesman, Mr Basilio Araujo. "We demand that the UN go back to their legal duties under the New York agreement."
The head of the UN mission in East Timor, Mr Ian Martin, yesterday met the commander of the armed forces, General Wiranto, to express concern about the continuing violence in the territory.
And while General Wiranto has repeatedly denied any army support for the militias, the intelligence available to Australia and the US shows his headquarters has been closely involved in their activities. His personal involvement, however, cannot be absolutely confirmed, officials said.
The UN's relations with the Indonesian army deteriorated further yesterday. An army spokesman contradicted Mr Martin's account of Sunday's attack by militia groups on a UN humanitarian convoy giving aid to refugees near Liquisa, 30 kilometres from the capital of Dili.
The spokesman, Brigadier General Sudrajat, backed the version of events told by the militia. He told AFP yesterday shots had been fired from the UN convoy during the attack by militiamen, in which a convoy driver was shot and seriously injured.
However, Mr Martin denied that any shots had been fired from the convoy or that UNAMET personnel were carrying weapons.
Mr Martin said that on seven separate occasions in recent weeks UN personnel had been either attacked or directly threatened by pro-Indonesian militia groups. He also gave a further assurance that UNAMET, which is organising the ballot, would continue to play a neutral role.
Western observers in East Timor are in no doubt that there is active support for the militias from the highest levels of the military and the police. Until April this year, the police were part of the armed forces.
Apart from the hard intelligence, there is strong circumstantial evidence that the co-operation is backed at a high level. After months of diplomatic pressure for the army to rein in local commanders who encourage troops and police to help the militia, the co-operation continues. Local and regional commmanders have retained their posts.
Since the UNAMET began preparations for the ballot last month, the senior army officer on the ground has been Major-General Zaky Anwar Makarim who was, until last year, the head of military intelligence.
The ballot timetable is also threatened by the up to 45,000 displaced people in East Timor, most of them driven from their homes through fear of the pro-Indonesian militia and many living in militia-controlled camps.
In the current conditions, a ballot would not be credible as these people could not vote freely.