International Federation for East Timor
Observer Project

Weekly Bulletin Issue #6: Week ending August 7, 1999

Registration Observation

The last week of voter registration was a busy one for IFET-OP. The team based in Baucau visited UNAMET registration sites throughout the district including some in Quelicai and Venilale. IFET-OP volunteers also went to Batugade and Balibo (both near the border with West Timor) to investigate accusations of wide-spread voter registration fraud, allegedly involving bringing in ineligible voters from West Timor. IFET-OP also observed sites throughout the Dili area, Maliana, Maubisse, Ainaro, and Same.

Based on these registration observations and interviews with individuals and groups in a variety of locations, IFET-OP was able to issue its third report (on August 3), dealing with the first 19 days of registration. (Registration was scheduled to end on August 4, but the United Nations extended the registration for two days in East Timor, and four days for sites outside the territory.)

The IFET-OP report raised serious concerns about the continuing presence of Indonesian military-backed militia groups and associated political violence, as well as about wide-spread intimidation of would-be voters. In terms of its recommendations, IFET-OP called upon UNAMET to extend the voter registration period in areas of relative proximity to concentrations of internal refugees, tens of thousands of whom probably had not yet had the opportunity to register. IFET-OP also called upon UNAMET to increase quickly the presence of police (CivPols) and Military Liaison Officers in East Timor. Finally, the report called upon the United Nations to begin immediate negotiations with the Indonesian government to introduce international peacekeeping troops into East Timor given the inability or unwillingness of the Indonesian authorities to bring about the conditions necessary for a ³free and fair² vote. The Jakarta Post, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Agence France Presse wire service all quoted the IFET-OP report.

IFET-OP also observed registration at the external site in New York, which drew East Timorese voters from as far away as San Francisco, Vancouver and Ottawa eager to exercise their long-denied right to self-determination.

IFET-OP Volunteers Witness Militia Attack in Same

On August 6, the IFET-OP team in Same witnessed a militia attack against a group of unarmed students and refugees who had sought shelter in a church compound following threats from paramilitaries the previous day. According to the information we received, the militia members attacked the students and refugees with knives and machetes, severely injuring one of the students in the hand and shoulder, and slightly injuring another.

Indonesian police were near the site at the time of the attack, but failed to respond quickly.

The students had sought refuge in the Catholic church in Same on August 5 after having received threats from members of a militia group. The students were trying to open an office of their organization in the town, but paramilitary intimidation prevented them from doing so.

Following the attack, the students and refugees fled to a nearby UNAMET registration site at a local Catholic school. Reportedly, UNAMET personnel explained to the students that there was nothing that they could do to help them, as it was beyond the UNAMET mandate. UNAMET officials, however, have met with Indonesian authorities and have received assurances from them that they will protect the students and refugees who have now returned to the church compound.

Quick media work by IFET-OP led to coverage of the attack by the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Agence France Presse wire service.

Accreditation of IFET-OP Observers Continues to Progress

More than 140 IFET-OP volunteers have received UNAMET accreditation. Randall Garrisson (from Canada) is the interim Consultation Officer and is, thus, the person in IFET-OP/Dili responsible for the organizationıs role in the accreditation process here in Dili.

Most IFET-OP observers have received their required Social-Cultural visas from the Indonesian consulates all around the world, and delays are diminishing. However, Indonesia refused to issue a visa to one IFET-OP prospective observer (Colin Iles of Aotearoa/New Zealand) this past week, and we are exploring why.

IFET-OP Establishes Its First Two Teams

On Monday, August 2, IFET-OP sent out its first two ³permanent² teams. One is based in Same and the other is located in Baucau. The team leaders are, respectively, Inge Lempp (U.S./Germany/Indonesia) and Tim Howard (New Zealand).

By the end of this week, we had 23 volunteers, with about 37 more expected this week, including observers from France, Japan, and Norway. We will dispatch two or three more teams this week as the number of volunteers increases rapidly. One of the teams will go to Maliana. We have yet to finalize the other two locations.


UNAMET considers the registration a great success, with more than 440,000 voters registered. But there is increasing concern about both pre- and post-ballot violence.

The period of campaigning of pro-independence and pro-autonomy forces will begin on August 14, 1999 and will last for 14 days. UNAMET has now finalized the code of conduct for the campaign.

Housing Situation

Prior to this past week, IFET-OP had houses in Baucau, Maliana, Manatuto, and Same. Over the last week, IFET-OP was able to secure housing in Aileu, Ainaro, Los Palos, and Maubisse. This week, a house in Suai will be one of our primary goals, but we will also explore several other locations.

East Timor field office (Dili)
Tel. 62-390-321969 fax:62-390-321264

International coordinator (New York)
Tel:1-914-428-7299 fax:1-914-428-7383

9 August 1999

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