Subject: UN: Indonesia could be held responsible for crimes against humanity
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 15:28:37 EDT

Indonesia could be responsible for crimes against humanity in Timor: UN

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 10 (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned Indonesia on Friday that unless it agreed immediately to an international peacekeeping force in East Timor it could be held responsible for crimes against humanity.

"Before the eyes of the world, the people of East Timor are being terrorised and massacred because they exercised their right to self-determination in a ballot organised by the United Nations," Annan told a news conference here.

He pledged that the UN would not abandon the people of East Timor "in their hour of greatest need."

He said Australia was willing to lead an international force, but he repeated that such a force required Indonesia's consent.

East Timor "is descending into anarchy," Annan said, because Indonesia had failed to fulfil its "responsibility to maintain order and security before and after the ballot" which took place on August 30.

"The anti-independence militias who were overwhelmingly defeated at the ballot box have engaged in an orgy of looting, burning and killing," he said.

"Hundreds of thousands of East Timorese have had to abandon their homes. Many of them have been forcibly relocated to West Timor or other parts of Indonesia."

Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Malaysia had said they were willing to participate in an international force to restore security and enable people to return home safely, Annan said.

"Australia in particular has made a very substantial commitment, and has agreed to take the lead," he added.

"I urge the Indonesian government to accept their offer of help without further delay.

"If it refuses to do so it cannot escape responsibility for what could amount, according to reports reaching us, to crimes against humanity.

"In any event," he said, "those responsible for those crimes must be called to account."

But he said it would be "premature" to set up a enquiry into crimes against humanity now.

Looking, in his own words, "pained and deeply disappointed," Annan said:

"I know, not least because of thousands of messages I have received from all over the world in the past few days, that many people believe the United Nations is abandoning the people of East Timor in their hour of greatest need. Let me assure you most emphatically that that is not the case."

But, he said, "the situation has clearly got far beyond what a small mission, which was sent to organise the popular vote and never equipped or mandated to enforce law and order, can possibly be expected to cope with."

Asked if he felt betrayed by Indonesia, he replied: "I am shocked that a government with so large an army is unable to bring the situation under control."

He said he was "deeply concerned about the fate of the displaced people" who had sought refuge in the compound of the UN Mission for East Timor (UNAMET) in the East Timorese capital, Dili.

The militiaman had again fired into the compound on Thursday night and threatened to invade it, he said.

"Yet the Indonesian forces who are supposed to be protecting the compound did nothing."

Annan said he was in "hourly contact" with Ian Martin, the head of UNAMET and "ready to take any decision necessary to ensure the safety of UN personnel."

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