Subject: Wiranto Adopts Conciliatory Approach, Bids To Soothe Border Row

Reuters October 12, 1999 8.10 a.m. ET (1217 GMT)

Indonesia Bids To Soothe Timor Border Row

MOTAAIN, Indonesia — Indonesian armed forces commander General Wiranto, trying to calm a growing row with Australian-led troops in East Timor, called Tuesday for joint military operations on the border dividing the island.

Wiranto also said his troops would mount a special operation to help East Timorese refugees across the border and clear their camps of anti-independence militiamen who have vowed to attack the multinational force.

"My troops would like to invite INTERFET (the international force in East Timor) for a joint patrol...on the avoid miscommunication etcetera that could cause casualties and later on international problems,'' he told reporters in the border hamlet of Motaain, scene of Sunday's fatal clash.

Both sides blame the other for the fight in which one Indonesian policeman was killed and two others were injured. Wiranto accused the Australian-led troops of being reckless.

"We will put together joint patrol procedures and joint posts so that we can trust each other and will not blame each other,'' Wiranto said during a one-day trip to the border area.

His conciliatory approach was in contrast to the navy which cancelled a joint operation with its Australian counterpart to monitor the oil-rich Timor gap.

The official news agency Antara quoted the navy chief Admiral Achmad Sutjipto as saying the operation was called off because of deteriorating bilateral relations over East Timor.


Wiranto also promised to deal with the highly-charged issue of pro-Jakarta militias who, with the backing of Indonesian troops, went on a murderous rampage after most East Timorese on August 30 voted to break from Indonesia's 23-year rule.

"The operation will clean up all refugees camps so that they will not be used as the basis for guerrilla attacks in East Timor,'' he said.

He called the move proof that his army was not still supporting the militias, most of whom fled to the West Timor side of the border when U.N.-backed INTERFET troops arrived in East Timor just over three weeks ago.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are also on the border where they were forced to flee during the height of the militia-led violence in September.


In the East Timor capital Dili, the territory's spiritual leader Bishop Carlos Belo said the pro-Jakarta militias must admit their role in the campaign of murder and destruction if they wanted a place in the reconstructed society of the future.

"Here it is essential that before talking about reconciliation, justice should be done. Justice should be practiced first,'' he told Reuters in the ruins of the home he had to flee last month when it came under militia attack.

"Those who feel guilt, who killed their brothers and sisters...who burned their houses, they must confess their fault to the East Timor people...After that they will be received with open arms by the people,'' the 1996 Nobel peace prize winner said.

Belo pressed the United Nations to quickly provide the machinery for a civil society.

"We live in a kind of vacuum of power: no law, no order, no police, no judicial system. It is necessary to have all those things to organize civil society.''

Once a Portuguese colony, then forcibly annexed by Indonesia after a moment of independence in 1975, East Timor faces the daunting prospect of building a new society from scratch.

The early signs of recovery were heralded Tuesday to the wail of bagpipes which multinational troops played to mark the reopening of the main market in the pillaged capital Dili.

"It's another step forward in the reconstruction of Dili and the re-establishment of a normal lifestyle,'' INTERFET spokesman Colonel Mark Kelly said.


But also in Dili, the U.N.-backed force said it would escort Indonesian soldiers after youths in the soon to be independent territory again pelted them with rocks for the second day.

About 1,400 Indonesian army and police forces remain in East Timor, most in Dili. INTERFET has around 6,000 troops there.

"INTERFET soldiers will in fact be involved with providing convoy escort for TNI (Indonesian army) groups moving to the port area to avoid any such incidents,'' Kelly said.

But one anti-independence East Timorese leader accused INTERFET of seeking war with Indonesian forces.

"Now what we are witnessing on ground is that they're trying to fight a real war, and that's why now they're trying to create a new war by provoking the reaction of Indonesia,'' Basilio Araujo, a spokesman for pro-Jakarta groups from East Timor, told Reuters Television.

Back to October Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Search this site                 powered by FreeFind

If your browser does do not support forms use: Search   Site Map   What's New

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from