Subject: SMH: UN chief despairs at military role in terror
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 08:41:18 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, June 19, 1999

EAST TIMOR UN chief despairs at military role in terror

By MARK DODD Herald Correspondent in Dili

The United Nation's senior official in East Timor has issued a bleak assessment of human rights in the territory, days after UN officials saw Indonesian soldiers directing pro-Jakarta militiamen as they burnt houses and beat up an old man. Mr Ian Martin, head of the UN Assistance Mission to East Timor, condemned the Indonesian military for organising and participating in terrorism and human rights violations against the civilian population, increasing the likelihood that the scheduled August 8 referendum on self-determination will be postponed. "We remain very seriously concerned indeed about the security situation, especially in the western districts," Mr Martin said yesterday. "We continue to receive many reports of continuing action by pro-integration militia in the villages - apparently accompanied by and encouraged rather than discouraged by TNI [Indonesian military].

"Not only have we received those reports consistently since we have been here but we have now actually witnessed for ourselves incidents consistent with those reports," he said.

On Tuesday, the UN team encountered three separate groups of Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Iron) militia accompanied by and directed by the Indonesian military, Mr Martin said. The team witnessed one of the groups "in the act of burning personal property, assaulting an old man and seeking to drive the villagers out of their village against their will".

"That is exactly the kind of incidents of which we have had extensive reports," Mr Martin said.

On Thursday, he had seen a squad of Besi Merah Putih being trained by a former member of the Indonesian armed forces. Other UN personnel had witnessed uniformed Indonesian soldiers conducting trainingsessions in the same area.

An Australian member of the UN Civilian Police, Superintendent Steve Polden, inspected a house near their training ground and uncovered several home-made guns, despite a denial they were carrying weapons, Mr Martin said. Both cases were reported and raised at a senior level with Indonesian military and police authorities, he said. The UN mission is also alarmed at an escalating humanitarian emergency caused by "tens of thousands" of internally displaced people - victims of pro-Jakarta militia violence. Mr Martin described their plight as "a serious obstacle" to voter registration, the first phase of the referendum operation.

Another major concern, expressed in a UN letter to Ambassador Agus Tarmidzi, the head of the Indonesian task force responsible for implementing the referendum, was the persistence of political campaigning by pro-autonomy groups in breach of the May 5 international agreement. "There is mounting evidence that much of this campaigning is supported by public funds, public officials in their official capacity, and that there has been pressure on other public officials to declare themselves for the autonomy option," Mr Martin said. "The agreement, as you know, requires that officials of the government of East Timor may only campaign in their personal capacity."

But Mr Martin acknowledged some progress on reconciliation between autonomy and independence supporters largely due to talks sponsored by the Catholic Church in East Timor. The Jakarta-backed Peace and Stability Commission was also playing a key role in helping foster an atmosphere of trust and confidence, he said.

The UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, must decide by Wednesday if conditions in the territory are right for a fair vote. Mr Martin declined to comment on the possibility of a delay.

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