Subject: US Churches call for UN monitors, disarming of civilians in East Timor
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 17:58:46 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org

NCC calls for disarming of civilians and the sending of UN monitors to East Timor

Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches issued an appeal on February 11 for the disarming of civilians and the sending of UN monitors to East Timor.

In letters addressed to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Dr. Campbell urged that such actions be taken “in order for the human rights of the people of East Timor to be preserved and protected and new arrangements for governance to be explored in a climate of calm and careful planning.”

While welcoming “the recent announcement by the Indonesian government that they may now consider independence an option for East Timor,” the National Council of Churches nonetheless understood that “the level of tension among the people of East Timor has increased and that potential for further violence is great,” wrote Dr. Campbell.

“Reports that the Indonesian military has provided arms to residents of that territory and created paramilitary groups are completely at odds with the framework of governance being discussed under United Nations auspices,” the letter continued.

The letter also called for the withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor “in a swift but orderly fashion,” and for such a process to be supervised by a UN monitoring force.

“Without prompt action, we fear that conditions in East Timor will lead to strife and violence similar to that witnessed by the international community in Somalia and Rwanda,” the letter warned. “Therefore, we appeal to you to consider these measures urgently in bilateral discussions with the Indonesian government and in multilateral discussions with the relevant parties at the United Nations.” ---

February 11, 1999

The Honorable Madeleine Albright Secretary of State U.S. Department of State Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Albright:

We are writing you to express our deep concern about the current situation in East Timor. We welcome the recent announcement by the Indonesian government that they may now consider independence an option for East Timor. However, reports that the Indonesian military has provided arms to residents of that territory and created para-military groups, are completely at odds with the framework of governance being discussed under United Nations auspices. We understand from reliable sources as well as via the media that the sense of insecurity and level of tension among the people of East Timor has increased and that potential for further violence is great.

In order for the human rights of the people of East Timor to be preserved and protected and new arrangements for governance be explored in a climate of calm and careful planning, we believe it is important for the international community to take immediate action.

First, the arming of civilians by the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) must stop and the Indonesian military must withdraw from the territory in a swift but orderly fashion. Given the record of human rights abuses by the ABRI forces, we are convinced that their continued presence will extend the suffering of the East Timorese people.

Second, the United Nations should send an international monitoring force to East Timor as soon as possible to oversee the disarming of the paramilitary and the withdrawal of troops as well as to provide protection to the population against human rights abuses.

Without prompt action, we fear that conditions in East Timor will lead to the strife and violence similar to that witnessed by the international community in Somalia and Rwanda. Therefore, we appeal to you to consider these measures urgently in bilateral discussions with the Indonesian government and in multilateral discussions with the relevant parties at the United Nations.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Joan Brown Campbell

Note: The same letter was also sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

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