|Subject: SMH: Long way to go, says UN leader
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:36:02 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald 10/06/99
Long way to go, says UN leader
By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili
Fragile security and the fears of independence supporters still too scared to come out of hiding posed the biggest threats to a successful autonomy ballot in East Timor, the head of the United Nations mission (Unamet) said yesterday.
In an interview with the Herald, Englishman Mr Ian Martin, who arrived in Dili last week, said his first priority was to assess security in the violence-prone territory.
Mr Martin, 52, is a former head of Amnesty International. Before his appointment to Unamet he served with the UN in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he has also worked for the UN in Rwanda and Haiti.
Security concerns in Dili had noticeably calmed since the first UN personnel arrived last month, he said, although "a good deal of apprehension" and continuing threats of violence remained. But the UN continued to receive "disturbing reports" from the outlying districts of Liquica, Maliana and Suai.
Since January, political violence by mainly by pro-Jakarta militia gangs has claimed the lives of more than 100 people, mostly independence supporters.
"There's a long way to go if pro-independence supporters, many of whom have left their homes in recent months, are going to feel that they can return in security, as that's what they have to do for registration, let alone ballot campaigning," Mr Martin said.
Independence supporters were only slowly beginning to emerge from hiding after months of violence by pro-Indonesian militias. "I don't think yet anything like a sufficient sense of confidence has been created. Inevitably it will be slow to return after what has happened in the recent past." Mr Martin noted that the use of Indonesian Government funds for spreading propaganda about the autonomy proposal, or supporting political and militia groups allied to Jakarta, was strictly outlawed under the terms of the UN-brokered agreement signed by Indonesia and the former colonial power, Portugal.
"I'm not sure that the agreement has really begun to be understood or explained, certainly down to local level among government officials, who may have been given a very different expectation of what they were to do.
"We've certainly begun to raise that as an issue with the Indonesian authorities."
Mr Martin expressed concern that East Timor's police and military chiefs had readily allowed the reorganisation of several pro-Jakarta militias into village-level civil defence groups with policing powers.