June 28, 1999

Permanent Representative of _________
New York, NY
Via fax

Dear Ambassador _________,

The Security Council is currently discussing the Secretary-General's latest report on East Timor (S/1999/705). We understand that the Council is preparing a statement on the report and current conditions in the Indonesian-occupied territory. While some positive steps have been taken, the security situation remains dire (especially outside Dili and Baucau) and a peaceful implementation of the popular consultation is not yet possible. We agree with the Secretary-General's recent decision to postpone the vote by two to three weeks.

We are writing to urge the Security Council to make a clear and forceful statement on the need for the Indonesian government to take seriously its responsibilities under the May 5 Tripartite Agreements.

In his report to the council, the Secretary-General stated that "[i]n many areas, pro-integration militias, believed by many observers to be operating with the acquiescence of elements of the army, carry out acts of violence against the population and exercise an intimidating influence over it." Indeed, U.N. personnel in East Timor have witnessed instances of direct military-militia collaboration.

According to the Secretary-General, "premature pro-autonomy campaigning, while the security and freedom of pro-independence groups to carry out their activities freely remains severely restricted, is perpetuating the uneven political plane."

The Secretary-General stressed that certain conditions were prerequisites to certifying that a sufficiently secure situation exists for a peaceful consultation, including: "bringing armed civilian groups under strict control and the prompt arrest and prosecution of those who incited or threatened to use violence, a ban on rallies by armed groups, the redeployment of Indonesian military forces, the immediate institution of a process of laying down of arms by all armed groups ... and the freedom of association and expression of all political forces and tendencies."

His report especially highlighted the problem created by large numbers of internally-displaced person (IDPs) both for the vote and for the well-being of those displaced. The Secretary-General stated that "delivery of assistance to them has practically ceased" due to threats by the pro-integration militias.

We agree with the Secretary-General's assessment that Indonesian-backed militia activities continue to have a "constricting effect on political freedom, silencing pro-independence activists and their supporters and forcing them into hiding, thus jeopardizing the necessary openness of the consultation process," and that "it is a matter of concern that the militias, which have been involved in acts of violence against civilians, are being presented by some officials as civil defence forces." (A concern we highlighted in our 15 June 1999 letter to the Secretary-General).

In order to avoid further postponements of the vote, the Security Council must stress the following:

  1. that under the tripartite agreement it is the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia to maintain peace and security in East Timor. The Security Council must hold Indonesia to account by the international community for its failure to do so,

  2. that continued violence and intimidation by the pro-integration militias and Indonesian military and police are the primary reason why conditions for a credible vote do not exist. An open and fair process is impossible so long as the militias are allowed to operate with impunity and pro-independence activists are unable to express themselves freely. Those responsible for inciting militia violence must be arrested and prosecuted and their appointment to civil defense forces (PAM Swarska) rescinded. All paramilitary groups must be disarmed;

  3. that Indonesian troops must be promptly withdrawn. The Indonesian authorities must dismiss all officers suspected of involvement in acts of violence against the population and ensure that they are duly prosecuted under the law,

  4. that all parties have committed themselves to abide by certain rules during the consultation process. While there have been no reports of Portuguese violations, there are persistent reports of the use of Indonesian government funds to campaign for the pro-integration side, of government officials campaigning in their official capacity, and of violations of the designated campaign period -- all in direct violation of the agreed rules,

  5. that organizations wishing to provide humanitarian aid must have unrestricted access to all those displaced by militia threats and violence. Appropriate U.N. agencies should directly join these humanitarian efforts. A starved and weakened populace will be unable to effectively participate in the consultation process. All IDPs who wish to return to their homes must be allowed to do so and provisions must be made for those who don't feel safe enough to return to register and vote,

  6. any East Timorese currently living outside the territory and East Timorese political prisoners, must be allowed to campaign inside the territory, including pro-independence leaders, such as Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos-Horta.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response to our concerns.

Charles Scheiner

Cc: Security Council Member States
Secretary-General Kofi Annan

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