On Friday, July 16 the registration process for the popular consultation officially began. UNAMET personnel briefed IFET observers in Dili on the process, and have begun to observe the registration at different locations in Dili. Additional observers are urgently needed as soon as possible to help observe this process. To ensure a free and fair vote on the actual day of the consultation it is essential that the registration process proceed according to the guidelines of the May 5th agreement.
Preliminary reports from the first day of registration indicate that there was some sort of conflict in the village of Salesa in the Kova-Lima Regency (Suai) in southwest East Timor in the hours prior to the opening of the registration sites. Because of this UNAMET postponed the opening of four registration sites in the area.
IFET-OP OBSERVERS ACCREDITED
This week UNAMET accredited seven IFET-OP observers already in Dili (including the first international observer to be accredited), as well as ten who will be arriving soon. The new badges and certificates enable observers to enter UNAMET registration stations and observe the registration process. Incoming observers must obtain social/cultural visas from consulates outside of Indonesia/East Timor. The Indonesian government requires this for all international observers.
UNAMET and the Indonesian government have agreed on a procedure for accreditation and visas. Details on the IFET web site. Each prospective observer faxes their accreditation information sheet (on IFETŪs web site) to us here in Dili, including a return fax number and the name of the city where s/he will apply for the visa. We will take it over to UNAMET, which will accredit him/her and notify the Indonesian Mission to the United Nations in New York, which will then notify the appropriate Indonesian embassy or consulate. This notification should be waiting when the observer arrives at the consulate. As a backup, we are working on obtaining a UNAMET document verifying each accreditation, which we will fax back to individual observers to take to the consulate.
After much vacillation, Indonesia and Portugal have agreed that Indonesian and Portuguese nationals have the right to participate in international observer missions such as the IFET-OP. This will help to expand our diversity and scope.
IFET-OP SCOUTING MISSIONS
This week there were three more scouting trips to gather information about different areas and secure housing. One team traveled to Same and Aileu, returning with useful information on both places. They made several valuable contacts in Same and report that both the UNAMET office as well as the local population are eagerly awaiting the arrival of IFET observers.
Another scouting team traveled to Maliana and Balibo. Detailed information
is not yet available as they have not yet returned to Dili.
There was also a day trip to Baucau. This trip surveyed several different housing possibilities. The IFET-OP members met with several members of UNAMET in Baucau as well as the Peace and Justice Commission of the Catholic Church.
This week IFET-OP staff in Dili met with several groups doing work similar to our own. Meetings were held with the Carter Center, who are sending approximately 20 observers to East Timor. We met with the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) who are also planning on sending observers to East Timor. Valuable information was exchanged with these groups. We discussed ways of working together with the other neutral observer projects. We also met with representatives of Caritas Australia, which has several volunteers in East Timor.
IFET staff members attended the UNAMET briefing for observers on the registration process on July 14th. UNAMET staff explained the process of registration at each registration area, and observers were able to ask questions.
In a statement to the press on Tuesday, July 13, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan announced that ten days into the scheduled twenty days of registration (July 26) he would make a decision as to when the vote will be, given the security situation and other factors.
OUTSIDE EAST TIMOR
We held a training in London, including observers from France, Norway and Ireland in addition to Britain. IFET-OP groups in Spain and Germany joined the project formally, and we held our first international conference call of Country Coordinators with people from Japan, Canada, France, Britain, the Netherlands and the USA. In addition to these countries, people are working on the project in Finland, Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and several Southeast Asian countries.
We continue to recruit and select people to go as IFET-OP nonpartisan volunteer observers to East Timor. Information, including application forms and a list of country coordinators, is on the IFET-OP web site.
SPECIAL REPORT ON INTEGRATION DAY- JULY 17
Saturday July 17 was the 23rd anniversary of Integration Day, the day in 1976 that Suharto officially žintegratedÓ East Timor into Indonesia. IFET-OP observed ceremonies in Dili, Balibo, and Manatuto.
In Dili, the official ceremony, at the GovernorŪs Office was not very large. About 800-900 people were in attendance; of whom 700 were uniformed low-ranking civil servants who stood in rows in front of the building to listen to speeches. There was a small military presence, but it was not a major part of the demonstration. Many higher level officials were also seated in the shade directly in front of the governorŪs office. The ceremony lasted from approximately 7:30am to 9:00am, and was uneventful.
Several banners around Dili had the name žAitarakÓ (Thorn) on them, an active militia group in Dili. Observers saw three banners which read žDirgahayu integrasi Timor Timur 17/7/76- 17/7/99Ó (Congratulations for the integration of East Timor 17/7/76-17/7/99 Aitarak). These banners were located over the street directly in front of the headquarters for Battalion 744 in Becora, the military base in the Caicoli neighborhood, and in front of the military base near the University of East Timor. Another three banners read žMati hidup tetap integrasiÓ (Life or death for integration Aitarak): in front of the market in Caicoli, on a private residence in Caicoli, and in front of a military post on the main coastal road in the neighborhood of Santana Bidau. Under the May 5 UN agreements, campaigning for or against autonomy/integration is not yet allowed, and government officials will not be allowed to campaign in their official capacities.
The observers were subjected to intimidation by presumed militia members.
At one point someone on a motorcycle passed one of the observers at high
speed, narrowly missing the observer despite the fact that there was ample
room to pass. The cyclist then turned around and while passing the observers
again said in English žNo good! No good!Ó before disappearing down a side
street. The observers also saw a apparent militia post in the Bidau Santana
IFET-OP also observed the Integration Day celebration in Manatuto. This demonstration was also very low key and nothing out of the ordinary occurred. There were approximately 150 participants in the ceremony -- all were civil servants, military or police.
IFET-OP observers were also present in Balibo. Balibo is an Integration Day focal point because it is the site where the Indonesian government claims that East Timorese political parties signed an agreement in 1975 that asked Indonesia to intervene in East Timor. We observed low-key pro-autonomy ceremonies consisting of traditional dances, music, and a few speeches. Many militia leaders sat in the front row, but the rest of the approximately 3,000 people in attendance did not seem excited about being there. The crowd showed much more enthusiasm for the gambling and cockfighting that followed the official ceremonies.
International coordinator (New York)
16 July 1999
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