Subject: etpost - Irish Times: Government is arming militias-Carter
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:32:35 -0400

The Irish Times Thursday, August 12, 1999

Government is arming militias-Carter

By Tjitske Lingsma, in Dili

East Timor: Top representatives of the Indonesian government have actively tried to undermine the popular consultation process in East Timor, the Carter Centre said in a report that was released yesterday. According to the centre, the Indonesian government and military are supporting, directing and arming pro-integration militias.

In a referendum on August 30th, the East Timorese will decide whether East Timor will integrate with Indonesia as an auto nomous entity or become independent. Armed militias are terrorising the East Timorese to compel them to vote for autonomy.

Indonesian police have "consistently failed to take the steps necessary to maintain law and order", the Carter Centre, which is monitoring the consultation process here, said. In some cases, the police have even collaborated with the militias.

Former US president Mr Jim my Carter has urged President B.J. Habibie of Indonesia to take action to end military and police support for the armed militias.

The situation is deteriorating with more militia activity and increased threats of violence and bloodshed if the East Timorese vote for independence, the Carter Centre said. Personnel of the UN Mission for East Timor were also been attacked.

The East Timor Student Solidarity Council reported yesterday two people were killed during an attack by militias in the southern town of Viqueque, 200km from the capital, Dili. Several people were severely wounded during a series of attacks by militias which began on Tuesday.

The UN Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, has said UN efforts "must be redoubled" after the ballot when the situation in East Timor will be "rather delicate".

This week in Jakarta the UN, Indonesia and Portugal will discuss an outline of the interim period. If the East Timorese accept autonomy, the UN will appoint a transitional council; if they vote for independence, authority in East Timor will be transferred to the UN.

An Irish citizen, Mr SeŠn Steele, has taken refuge in the UN office in Viqueque, after he allegedly witnessed the murder of two students by Indonesian military. According to the Dublin office of the East Timor campaign, Indonesian-backed militias tried to capture and kill Mr Steele.

The leader of the East Timor Student movement, Mr Antero da Silva, was also caught up in the attack. Both men claimed their lives were saved after they jumped in a river and stopped a passing UN vehicle.

Security forces fired warning shots yesterday in Indonesia's devastated eastern island of Ambon as sectarian violence broke out for the third consecutive day. Witnesses said mobs armed with homemade guns were blocking the main road connecting the airport to the city centre.

The standoff occurred when marines stopped a unit of the special strategic reserves escorting hundreds of Muslims from entering a village which had fallen into the control of Christians.

Violence broke out on Monday in the east of Ambon city where a Muslim district meets a Christian one, with at least 16 people killed and dozens injured.

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