|Subject: Fw: Eyewitness hiding in W.Timor: 'great
Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 20:09:54 +0700
also: Refugees fear militia attack is imminent
Australian Broadcasting Corporation PM News report Tuesday, September 14, 1999 6:00 p.m.
Eyewitness confirms looming crisis in West Timor
MARK COLVIN: An Australian man hiding in Kupang, the capital of West Timor,
says the international community has to send help urgently. The man, who wants to remain anonymous, says the peacekeeping force heading to East Timor should expect to face clashes with the militia forces, and he told Kate Jordan the situation is getting worse.
UNIDENTIFIED: We've got 116,000 in West Timor and we should be concentrating on these people as well.
KATE JORDAN: So do you think that they've sort of been forgotten at the moment because the whole world's focusing on East Timor?
UNIDENTIFIED: Absolutely, and there's potential for a great human disaster on a terrible scale among these refugees in West Timor.
KATE JORDAN: As an international peacekeeping force prepares to go to East Timor, the situation in Indonesian-controlled West Timor is growing more volatile. The Australian man is hiding in Kupang, the capital of West Timor. He says people are starting to starve and disease is spreading.
UNIDENTIFIED: Yesterday three babies died in Kefamenanu from starvation and
weakness. Children in the border town of Atambua are beginning to die from dysentry, we believe.
KATE JORDAN: The man says the armed militia is in control of large parts of
West Timor. They accompany refugees everywhere and the situation is getting
UNIDENTIFIED: Five different militias have been ramming the border town of Atambua. We believe that schools have been - refugees alleged to be pro-independence have been torched, a number of people have been shot. There are reports of gun fire every night.
KATE JORDAN: The man says urgent help is needed. He says it's just as important to send international help to West Timor as it is to East Timor, and it's something the Australian Government should be monitoring extremely
UNIDENTIFIED: We should be doing all that we possibly can not just to focus
on East Timor but to focus on West Timor in order to prevent the situation destabilising society and politics in West Timor as well, which will not be
in our national interest.
KATE JORDAN: And he says the peacekeeping force into East Timor led by Australian troops should expect to face a stronger pro-integrationist force. He fears thousands of trained East Timorese soldiers in the Indonesian military will leave and join militia groups. He says peacekeepers could face a paramilitary force of up to 30,000.
UNIDENTIFIED: I think it's very possible that the pro-integrationists, let's not just call them militias, there is something like 8000 native East Timorese soldiers in the Indonesian armed forces. It's very possible that a
combination of armed pro-integrationists will put up a fight in the western
part of East Timor.
MARK COLVIN: An Australian hiding in Kupang speaking to Kate Jordan.
PM - Tuesday, September 14, 1999 6:20
Hunger and killing spreads to West Timor
MARK COLVIN: And the picture emerging from West Timor is no better than the
accounts of anarchy coming from the East. Reports suggest that more than 200,000 people from the territory have now been forcibly deported West. They are vulnerable and frightened, in many cases without food and water. There have also been fresh accounts today of refugees being shot and killed.
Luisa Saccotelli reports.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: Relief agencies now put the number of displaced people in
West Timor at more than 200,000. The mass transit saw people moved out of East Timor on trucks, naval boats and on major air lifts. The refugees deposited in huge squatter camps, armed militia close by.
Sydney Catholic Priest, Father Antonio Alvez, has just returned from West Timor where he says targeted killings are continuing.
FATHER ALVEZ: In West Timor I hear "akish, akish". That one man run there and then was killed in the West Timor by militias. Another man was arrested in the hotel, the same hotel, where I was.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: How do you know that?
FATHER ALVEZ: I know that. Yes, I know because in the day I go up, in the same day I go up there they told me.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: First hand information about the refugees in West Timor is hard to come by. Arsinio Ramos-Horta, brother of activist Jose, says he has
heard direct reports from people who've seen ships leaving Kupang laden with refugees returning empty.
ARSINIO RAMOS-HORTA: Indonesia and in disguises, with UNAMET uniforms, trying to convince people to board the Indonesian ships to carry them to Australia. But then they go out for a couple of hours, they are back empty into the harbour again. We presume that those people are overthrown to the sea.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: Is there nowhere else they could conceivably be going a few hours out of Kupang?
ARSINIO RAMOS-HORTA: In Kupang it's quite suspicious. Of course, there are a few islands close to Kupang where they could have gone but those islands cannot accommodate large ships.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: And in another disturbing account, JOAO CARRASCALAO, the Head of the National Council of Timorese Resistance in Australia, says he took a call at 3 am this morning from a woman trapped in one of the Kupang camps at a large soccer field.
JOAO CARRASCALAO: Together with thousands of people with no shelter, no sanitary conditions, with very little food to eat. So no conditions, no human conditions whatsoever.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: Are they safe in that soccer stadium?
JOAO CARRASCALAO: Nosifir (phonetic) reports that people have been taken out and then she heard that people were killed but she could not confirm because she could not go out of the camp and check. But people were sick like ... they're taking out, they single out mainly pro-independence people, they are taking out of the camp and they're not being seen again.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: The accounts of what's happening in West Timor will increase pressure on Australia to take in more refugees, and not just on temporary visas. But there are already 1,600 asylum seekers waiting to have
their fate decided by the Federal Court in Melbourne.
After losing a series of test cases, the Federal Government is set to go ahead with an appeal next month in which it will argue that the East Timorese who have gathered here over the past decade should be deported to Portugal because they're in fact Portuguese citizens
Immigration lawyer, Martin Klatterback, represents 650 of the 1,600 East Timorese asylum seekers here. He is anxiously awaiting a government change of heart amidst the leadership role it's taken on the issue of peace keeping forces.
MARTIN KLATTERBACK: They maintain that it's a ... it's a legal question about effect of nationality and whether the Timorese have got a safe third country to go to, but it's inconsistent when the Australian Government maintains that the East Timorese are actually Portuguese nationals. But when we look at the Timor Gap Oil Treaty, the Australian Government has always recognised sovereignty over East Timor.
So, they're trying to say one thing on the one hand and another ... a completely different thing on the other hand whenever it suits them, really.
MARK COLVIN: Immigration lawyer, Martin Klatterback, with Luisa Saccotelli.
PM - Tuesday, September 14, 1999 6:16
Refugees fear militia attack is imminent
MARK COLVIN: Food and water are in extremely short supply for the thousands
of refugees hiding in the hills around Dili. And for the estimated 50,000 awaiting relief in Dare. Today estimates of when the airborne food drops can begin are varying from the next couple of days to the weekend. Now there's an added threat: possible attacks on the refugees by Indonesian forces as a way of engaging the pro-independence guerilla fighters of Falintil. Karon Snowdon reports.
KARON SNOWDON: The hills around Dili are proving to be only marginally safer than Dili was itself in the days before thousands of refugees fled for their lives. Low on food and water with the sick, the very young and the old suffering exposure, they now face an increasing risk of attack. Journalist Rob Carol is in hiding with the refugees, a day's walk from Dili. He told CNN that people who went looking for food around the town last night reported militia are still actively pursuing East Timorese.
ROBERT CARROLL: The atmosphere here is one of great despondency, fear, anxiety, insecurity, indecisiveness. Most people have lost family members. They can't locate where their brothers, sisters, parents, husbands, wives are and they still are not confident. Until they see results from the United Peace Keeping Force arriving here and actually having an effect on the situation that they are in any sort of security.
There's great worries about food and water supply. There's great shortage of water and food supplies is very much on a minimal basis.
KARON SNOWDON: Robert Carroll says fears are growing that an attack is imminent on the estimated 50,000 refugees in Dare.
ROBERT CARROLL: The intimidation that the militia have been ... intimidation attacks and forcible removal of refugees ... there's a sign that they could
continue the intimidation in, down below further away in the Dare District because yesterday they cut - the electricity was cut off and local opinion of this is that it was not an accident.
It's an intentional move which is certainly in line with the methodology of
the military and militia attacks over the past week and nine days since the
referendum results were announced on the Saturday.
KARON SNOWDON: Spokesperson for the Timorese Resistance, JOAO CARRASCALAO claims Indonesian forces are provoking Falintil, the armed wing of the Independence movement, into skirmishes in order to claim a civil war is raging. Several clashes last night around Bobinaro and Imira reportedly claimed the lives of several Indonesian soldiers and a Falintil fighter.
JoaoO Carrascalao told Bronwyn Adcock it's becoming harder for Falintil to observe the order from its leadership not to fight, because the large numbers of refugees dependent on them make it harder to retreat.
JOAO CARRASCALAO: To avoid these people from being slaughtered then Falintil have to take defensive positions and then the combat is inevitable.
KARON SNOWDON: More frightening is the intelligence the Resistance Council says it has intercepted between Indonesian troops of a planned mortar attack on the refugee compound in Dare.
JOAO CARRASCALAO: The plan is to fire mortar, with mortar, to these people and then when they try to run away they just shoot them down on sight. We expected it to happen yesterday but fortunately nothing happened. It can happen at any moment.
KARON SNOWDON: Sheltering with refugees near Dili, journalist Robert Carroll says there's little optimism that the arrival of peace keepers will alleviate their plight.
ROBERT CARROLL: They are waiting to see. You know, they've had so many broken promises over the past 24 years from the Indonesians that they will not be happy until they see a result.
MARK COLVIN: Journalist Robert Carroll, hiding in the hills with the refugees above Dili, in that report by Karon Snowdon.
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