|Subject: SMH: Fearful Ramos Horta asks Canberra to
help send thugs home
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 1999 15:03:05 EDT
Sydney Morning Herald 26/08/99
Fearful Ramos Horta asks Canberra to help send thugs home
The arrival in East Timor of Indonesian military-backed thugs threatened disastrous consequences for Monday's ballot, the resistance leader Mr Jose Ramos Horta said yesterday.
Mr Ramos Horta called on the Australian Government to pressure Indonesia to withdraw the hundreds of permudaan youth group "hooligans" who were earlier refused United Nations observer status.
"I am extremely worried about the violent direction this means. It is an ominous sign," he said. "These hooligans must be repatriated before the ballot."
Mr Ramos Horta said their presence could frighten tens of thousands of citizens away from polling stations.
Diplomatic sources say the youths have been associated with unrest in Ambon and Jakarta and are financed by Indonesian military intelligence.
Mr Ramos Horta told a university-organised workshop on reconciliation and effective governance in East Timor he would raise the issue with Australian Government officials.
Indonesia must be told there would be severe repercussions, including financial sanctions, if it was to allow such intrusions into the democratic process. He told the Canberra workshop that stability had to be maintained in the two-month transition period after the poll. While East Timor independence supporters had been rebuffed in proposals to autonomy supporters for a "shadow" executive council of political opponents, he believed that would change once intimidation from the Indonesian military was removed.
- MARK METHERELL