Subject: AP: Amnesty Intl Again Decries Indon Abuses In E.Timor
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 14:33:47 EDT

Associated Press August 18, 1999

Amnesty Intl Again Decries Indonesia Abuses In East Timor

WASHINGTON (AP)--Indonesia is failing to protect voters in East Timor against widespread harassment ahead of an Aug. 30 referendum on the disputed territory's future, Amnesty International asserted Wednesday.

The human rights organization cited "unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests and 'disappearances,"' including a new outbreak of violence earlier Wednesday.

The referendum will give the people of East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, a choice between remaining part of Indonesia as an autonomous region or gaining full independence.

"At this crucial time, we want the Indonesian police to stand up and enforce the laws equally," T. Kumar, the group's advocacy director for Asia, told a news conference. He also called on Indonesian President B.J. Habibie and military leaders to act more aggressively to protect the population and to guarantee a fair referendum.

The majority of the violence has been carried out by anti-independence militia groups "which continue to enjoy the support or acquiescence of the Indonesian military and police," Amnesty said in a report earlier Wednesday.

"There is an extremely clear link between the Indonesian military and the militia who are attacking civilians," Kumar said.

An Indonesian Embassy official disputed the allegations and called Amnesty's report "one sided."

"There is no evidence of support by the Indonesian military for these (militia) groups," said Mahendra Siregar, first secretary for press and information.

Thousands of villagers have fled their homes after attacks by anti-independence militia groups. Dozens have been killed or maimed.

Kumar said Amnesty is not taking a position on the independence issue, but wants the 430,000 East Timorese who have registered to vote to be able to do so without harassment.

"We have solid evidence that people have disappeared, that torture is taking place," he said.

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