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Subject: AFP: No progress on Timor unless fear lifted
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 10:37:15 -0400

No progress on East Timor unless cloud of fear lifted: rights group Tue 25 Aug 98 - 06:50 GMT

JAKARTA, Aug 25 (AFP) - Any attempt to solve the problem of East Timor will be futile until the cloud of fear created by Indonesian military abuses is lifted, a rights group Tuesday was quoted as saying.

"If we want to seek a comprehensive solution to the East Timor issue, the government should first investigate human rights violations," The Jakarta Post quoted Marzuki Darusman, deputy chairman of the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights as saying.

"This exercise will take a long time," Darusman told a seminar here Monday.

He said the population of the former Portuguese colony, invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed a year later, was haunted by killings, shootings, torture and arrests.

Referring to the highly-publicized withdrawal of 1,000 Indonesian combat troops from the territory last month, Darusman said the pullout could not be called progress unless human rights were restored and respected.

Since the fall of president Suharto May 21, Indonesia has offered to grant broad autonomy to East Timor. In subsequent talks with Portugal under UN auspices, UN Secretary General Kofi Anan suggested that East Timorese be fully involved in the discussion of the offer.

"Their (East Timorese) political and human rights should first be reinstated if it is their right to determine their own future," Darusman added.

Suharto's successor President B.J. Habibie, in a meeting with East Timorese Nobel laureate Bishop Carlos Belo in June, said he had been "shocked" at Belo's reports on restrictions on East Timorese, such as being unable to travel even within the territory without permission.

Habibie, who has included jailed East Timorese in four separate amnesties of political prisoners since taking office, pledged to improve the rights situation in the territory.

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