Subject: TAPOL calls on UK Govt for immediate action in Timor
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 22:59:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: (TAPOL)

Yesterday evening, Thursday, TAPOL sent the following letter to Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook:

26 August 1999

The Rt Hon Robin Cook MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Whitehall, London SW1

As you will certainly know, the situation in East Timor which has been deteriorating in the past few weeks as the army-backed militia continue to harass the population in many parts of the country, took a further turn for the worse in Dili today.

By contrast with yesterday Wednesday, when thousands of pro-independence people gathered for their final campaigning rally in the capital in festive and peaceful mood, the pro-autonomy rally today degenerated into violence, leading to clashes between people from both sides. All the reports I have seen show that many people in the pro-autonomy crowd were armed with sharp weapons and firearms. At least three people were killed.

As with other incidents elsewhere in East Timor, the Indonesian police did little to rein in the armed militias who were part of the crowd.

The rally today appears also to have placed the UNAMET office in danger while volunteers and observers have been threatened by the militia in the past week or so.

With only three days to go before the ballot takes place, it is clear that further disruptive actions are likely to occur, placing the whole exercise in jeopardy. The Indonesian security forces have done virtually nothing to hold back the militias who have not been disarmed, let along disbanded as required by the 5 May agreements.

Bishop Belo in an article two days ago in The New York Times wrote of brutal attacks on church staff and anyone perceived to be pro-independence.

The success of the ballot now hangs on a thread and could be seriously disrupted if immediate action is not taken by the international community. It seems to us that the situation in East Timor can only be salvaged by a stepped-up UN presence and one that would have powers to disarm and disband the militias, as well as securing the removal of all Indonesian army officers who are clearly supporting the militias. This can only be achieved by the immediate dispatch of a peace-keeping force.

The next few days and weeks are fraught with danger, the period immediately after the ballot and before the results are announced, and whatever the result, the period between the results being announced and the MPR meeting. Only if there is a heightened UN presence with powers to act on security matters will it be possible to halt the continuing violence that now has East Timor in its grip.

We call upon you to bring this matter to the UN Security Council ands seek new powers for UNAMET.

Yours sincerely,

Carmel Budiardjo

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: Internet: Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

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