Subject: US Envoy Hopeful New Indonesia Govt Will Help E Timor

Associated Press November 2, 1999

US Envoy Hopeful New Indonesia Govt Will Help E Timor

DILI, East Timor (AP)--The recent change of government in Jakarta should help substantially in solving the problems of East Timor, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Gelbard said Tuesday.

Gelbard, who took up his post about four weeks ago, arrived in Dili from Indonesian West Timor, where more than 200,000 East Timorese are staying in refugee camps.

He said the accelerated repatriation of these refugees - many of whom reportedly were forced to leave their homeland - was a major concern of the United States. So far only about 35,000 have been sent back by land, sea and air.

Gelbard said militia intimidation of the refugees in West Timor was a major concern, denying them a free choice over whether to return.

He said the situation has improved in recent weeks - as shown in the increased number of returnees - "but there hasn't been sufficient improvement yet."

He said, however, that he is "fully convinced" the Cabinet installed last week by new Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid would take effective measures to solve the problem and already has made commitments to Washington to do so.

Gelbard was generous with praise for Wahid and his new attorney general, Marzuki Darusman, who previously headed Indonesia's human rights commission.

"This is the first time that Indonesia has become truly democratic, and I think that's an important positive sign for the future of Southeast Asia and the world," he said.

He also praised senior personnel in the U.N. operations concerned with East Timor, as well as Australian Maj. Gen. Peter Cosgrove, head of the international peacekeeping force.

Gelbard expressed concern, however, about the snail's pace at which the U.N.'s human rights component has been mobilizing to investigate abuses by the militias.

"I just hope that they begin to pursue their work with greater alacrity, greater speed, including getting their forensics experts here rapidly," he said.

"They're not here yet, and I don't understand that, especially with the rainy season coming. I think the U.N. really has to move with greater speed on this."

Gelbard expressed special concern that those responsible for the murder of a Dutch journalist in a Dili suburb be brought to justice.


Subject: Interview w/Amb. Gelbard: US steps up Timor demands

Australian Broadcasting Corporation AM New -Wednesday, November 3, 1999 8:13

US steps up Timor demands

COMPERE: The United States is stepping up the pressure in East Timor, demanding action from the new Indonesian Cabinet to rein in the Indonesian Army and the militia still active in West Timor. And, as Rafael Epstein reports from Dili, America's ambassador to Jakarta, Robert Gelbard, says he doesn't understand why the UN special forensic investigators aren't already in East Timor.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Robert Gelbard has a mission, to make sure everyone from the Indonesian Army through to the UN hears and understands what America thinks about Timor. His first message, "bad things are happening in the militia-controlled camps in West Timor, where hundreds of thousands of East Timorese are trapped.." Mr Gelbard says the new Indonesian Cabinet must ensure there's a dramatic increase in the number of refugees leaving those camps.

ROBERT GELBARD: There is still very good reason to be concerned about the activities of the militias in the camps. There is no question that the militias remain active in the camps and remain a force for intimidation for those who would wish voluntarily to return to East Timor. Our view, of course, is that people have free choice. Those who want to return to East Timor must be allowed to do so without any kind of intimidation, without any kind of fear, from the militias or from anybody else.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Robert Gelbard's only been in Jakarta for a month and has already been criticised by the Chairman of the Indonesian Parliament, Amien Rais, for trying to unduly influence the makeup of the new government. Now, from Dili, Mr Gelbard wants the new government to act. Rogue elements of the Indonesian Army must be controlled, he says, and the militia must be reined in.

ROBERT GELBARD: We expect the Government of Indonesia - and this is very important - we expect the Government of Indonesia to have complete control over this. We expect there to be no cross-border operations or actions by these groups and we expect them to be disarmed. I am optimistic. There's clearly been progress, significant progress over the last three to four weeks. There's been a lot of progress over the last week. I want to be very clear about that. But, more progress needs to be made and that progress needs to be on an accelerated basis.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Mr Gelbard also has a message for the UN in Geneva. While he says the UN transitional authority in Dili is doing well, he claims the UN's commission of inquiry into human rights abuses in East Timor is dragging its feet, and that vital evidence will soon disappear when the wet season sets in perhaps a few weeks.

ROBERT GELBARD: I think it's important the commission of inquiry set up by the United Nations pursue its work. I just hope they begin to pursue their work with greater alacrity and greater speed, including getting their forensics experts here rapidly. They're not here yet and I don't understand that.

COMPERE: The US Ambassador to Jakarta speaking in East Timor.


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