|=Subject: AFP: First UN policeman arrives to
supervise East Timor ballot
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 09:37:31 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
First UN policeman arrives to supervise East Timor ballot
DILI, East Timor, May 8 (AFP) - The first member of a United Nations police force arrived in East Timor Saturday before its August 8 vote on autonomy or independence amid reports of more intimidation by pro-Indonesia militias.
"I have come to assess and to plan for the civilian police operation," said Om Rathor, from India, soon after arriving at Comoro airport.
Rathor, dressed in civilian clothes, said the number of UN civilian police to be deployed was still "being worked out" but estimated the force would number between 250 and 300.
"We have to see the arrangement for the direct ballots and what security arrangement are being made. We will try to assemble some senior officers, competent ones, from different nations to advise the local police," he said.
The main police contingent, expected here Monday, was agreed as part of a landmark accord at the United Nations between Portugal and Indonesia Wednesday.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it a year later in a move never recognized by the United Nations or most countries, which still view former colonial power Portugal as the legal administrator.
Indonesian troops have battled a sporadic guerrilla resistance campaign.
Four other UN officials believed to be members of a technical team preparing the ballot arrived on the same plane but refused comment.
Police meanwhile began separating some members of a group of independence supporters who have been sheltering at Dili police headquarters, amid fears for their safety at the hands of pro-Jakarta militias should they be forced to move out.
Leandro Isaac, an executive of the pro-independence National Council of the East Timor Resistance (CNRT), said 18 people had been separated and taken somewhere else.
It was not immediately clear if they had been forced to leave the police station.)
Isaac has been at police headquarters since he was taken there for "protection" on April 18, the morning after the militias went on an unchecked rampage through Dili in which 21 independence supporters were killed.
A total of 60 refugees had remained at the headquarters, mostly survivors of a bloody attack on the Dili house of pro-independence activist Manuel Carrascalo on April 17.
Eleven of about 120 people in the house were killed as well as Carrascalao's teenage son Manuelito. Carrascalao has since fled East Timor with the surviving members of his family.
Isaac said representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross were due to meet police later Saturday to try to resolve the dilemma.
"If they want to get me out, I do not want to go. I prefer to die in my house than to die where they want," Isaac said.
Police have said they want to move the refugees to the Tibar area in neighbouring Liquisa district.
Isaac has said he fears for his life if moved to Liquisa where pro-Jakarta militias abound. The district has been the scene of violence between pro and anti-Indonesia groups including a militia massacre of at least 25 people in April.
About 1,500 refugees have been holed up in makeshift tents in Liquisa since last week, with some saying they were fleeing violence and terror in villages inland.
Liquisa was the scene Saturday of a rally by 3,000 pro-Indonesia supporters. Eurico Guterres, deputy commander of the militia forces, symbolically handed over an ancient Portuguese rifle to the local military commander.
Despite the ceremony and the fact that a ceasefire is in place, intimidation by pro-Indonesia militiamen has continued in Dili and surrounding areas, independence supporters said.
CNRT representative Duarte Viana said his house in Camaia sub-district on the eastern outskirts of Dili had for the past three days been visited by a group of men, some of whom he recognised as members of the Aitarak militia.
"This morning, several of these men came again and entered my house," Viana said. The men did no damage and left.
Also in Camaia, the house of another independence supporter, Jose Gomes, was torched late on Friday.
Violence between the two camps has grown since Indonesia in January said it may grant East Timor independence if voters among its 800,000 people reject autonomy.