Subject: CAFOD urges UK Govt to press for TNI withdrawal from Timor
Date: Tue, 17 Aug 1999 04:32:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: (TAPOL)

Press Release from CAFOD, UK, issued on 13 August 1999

Indonesian military must withdraw from East Timor

The Catholic aid agency CAFOD has asked the British government to demand the complete withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor. It wants them replaced immediately with an armed international peace keeping force.

CAFOD fears the situation in East Timor may become increasingly volatile in the run up to a referendum at the end of August to decide the country*s future. Depending on the outcome it could gain independence from Indonesia.

Earlier this week two people were killed and five more went missing in an attack on CAFOD partners The East Timorese Students Solidarity Council (ETSSC). The students were carrying out a voter education programme in Viqueque, funded by CAFOD and Trocaire/Irish Aid.

CAFOD East Timor project officer Catherine Sexton said: *CAFOD*s partners in East Timor are coming increasingly under attack in this conflict. We are asking the British government to push the Indonesians further on this issue, calling for a complete withdrawal of Indonesian military from East Timor and their replacement with an armed international peacekeeping force in the period during and immediately after the Ballot.

*In addition we urge the government to apply further pressure by suspending direct aid to Indonesia, and calling on the Consultative Group on Indonesia not to disburse further aid until the ballot is completed peacefully.

*The period immediately after the Ballot, before the outcome is ratified by the Indonesian government may be particularly dangerous. CAFOD is concerned that if international peacekeepers are not deployed in East Timor, many more people will lose their lives and the already fragile process of a peaceful transition to an independent and democratic East Timor will be further endangered.*

CAFOD*s concern over further violence was backed by reports from the Nobel peace prizewinner Bishop Belo, who told CAFOD partners: *I have bad news. They (the Indonesian military) are openly and clearly distributing guns in the eastern towns of Baucau and Laga. They are turning Timorese against Timorese. It is like hell.*

Ends MMcC 13.8.99

For further information contact Mary McCollum Tel: 0171 733 7900

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