|Subject: SMH: Bodies burn, refugees starve - fears
of 'final solution'
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 11:12:13 EDT
Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, September 14, 1999
Bodies burn, refugees starve amid fears of 'final solution'
Piles of bodies were burnt on the streets of Dili at the weekend and tens of thousands of refugees were without food or water as they fled the militias and the Indonesian Army.
Reports out of Dili described fresh atrocities, including renewed targeting of nuns and priests, the shooting of people on the waterfront and boats packed with refugees leaving the port only to return empty shortly after.
Dr Andrew McNaughton, spokesman for the Darwin-based East Timorese International Support Centre, feared the militias and the Indonesian Army had embarked on "a final solution" in East Timor that had echoes of Nazi Germany.
He also doubted that the UN peacekeeping force would arrive in time to save thousands from dying of thirst and starvation.
Some have already died and many more are expected to succumb within days if urgent attempts by the UN to arrange air drops of water and food out of Darwin fail.
UN and East Timorese groups stressed that immediate air drops were critical if thousands were to be saved in both East Timor and West Timor, where many have been forcibly sent.
But by last night there had been no go-ahead from the Indonesian authorities.
The East Timorese International Support Centre said it received witness accounts yesterday of piles of bodies burnt on Dili streets just before a UN Security Council delegation arrived on Saturday.
Dr McNaughton said an estimated 300,000 East Timorese were now hiding in the mountains and seeking protection from the pro-independence Falantil groups. But they were running out of food and water.
"People are dying, particularly the old and the young," he said. "This is exactly what is happening now."
Dr McNaughton said that in Dare, about 20 kilometres from Dili, about 30,000 refugees were sheltering in a monastery and two people had reportedly died overnight from fever.
The UN's spokesman in Darwin, Mr David Wimhurst, said: "There are hundreds of thousands of refugees clustered in the mountains without adequate food, or no food. They are living on roots or what they can scavenge."
He confirmed that priests, nuns and other church workers were still being attacked.
The latest to die was the Acting Moderator of the East Timor Protestant Church, the Rev Francisco da Vasconcelos Ximenes, who with 100 refugees was forced from his Dili church and taken to Bacau.
During the trip Mr Ximenes was pulled from a truck and executed at the roadside.
Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, September 14, 1999
By MARK DODD in Darwin
The leader of East Timor's pro-independence Falintil guerillas has warned of a massive humanitarian disaster involving tens of thousands of displaced and starving people who face continuing violence by Indonesian troops and their militia allies. "This is real hell - real hell," said Commander Tuar Matan Ruak, Falintil's field commander, in a message sent yesterday, a copy of which was received by the Herald.
The Falintil appeal was sent from its headquarters near the Viqueque/Manatuto border.
Commander Ruak said there were more than 100,000 refugees living in desperate conditions in the open mountain regions of eastern Manatuto, Baucau and Viqueque.
"We don't have any milk for the children - this is a serious problem," he said, adding the situation was so desperate Falintil fighters had been forced to forage for food for the refugees and as a result had engaged in at least one firefight with Indonesian soldiers.
"There has been one minor engagement on September 8 between Falintil and Indonesian forces at Lalea, in the mountains. Our forces were seeking food and we captured 20 weapons." United Nations officials have praised Falintil for resisting provocation. "Throughout all this emergency they have not moved," one official said. "The Indonesians want them to come out and attack so they can blame the chaos on Falintil."
At Dare, near Dili, between 50,00 and 100,000 refugees, many seriously ill, are said to be in a perilous situation, surrounded by soldiers and militia.
Commander Ruak cited reports from Falintil commanders of similar conditions in other outlying areas of East Timor.
"The commander of First Region in [eastern] Los Palos informed me that the situation is very, very bad and that the population is being massacred by the Indonesians."
In the western border districts of Suai, Maliana, and Ermera, the commander of Fourth Region reported: "The situation is terrible and getting worse. There are gunshots and firing every day and robbery."
Commander Ruak blamed the Indonesian military for torching district centres at Manatuto, Baucau and Viqueque. "In the small villages the fires are the same as Dili or even worse - total chaos. The population has no help, no protection, no food, no water and no medicine."
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