Subject: Holbrooke slams Indonesian military over Timor

Holbrooke slams Indonesian military over Timor

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The United States slammed Indonesia's military on Friday for not cooperating with probes into violence in East Timor and said Jakarta was too slow in ridding Timor refugee camps of armed gangs.

``The Indonesian generals should know that their own efforts to thwart internal accountability and openness and inquiry are only going to result in greater (international) pressure,'' U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke told reporters after a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting.

``There is obviously a profound struggle going on in Indonesia to protect their own skins and other parts of their anatomy,'' Holbrooke said in reference to the lack of cooperation in several several inquiries, including one by Jakarta's National Human Rights Commission.

``It is a struggle of great historic consequence. Indonesia is one of the most important countries in the world, the world's third largest democracy,'' he said.

He warned that high-ranking officers were ``going to bring the whole house down if they persist in obstructing this.''

The United States has put an arms embargo and suspended its ties with Indonesia's military. The European Union did the same at the height of the violence in September but will lift its four-month embargo next week.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony that Indonesia invaded in 1975, voted overwhelmingly for independence in an Aug. 30 U.N.-organised ballot. As soon as the poll was announced, armed gangs or militia, created by the Indonesian military, went on a killing, looting and burning spree.

The violence was stopped by an Australian-led international force that will be replaced soon by U.N. peacekeepers until the territory becomes independent in about two to three years.

A U.N. Commission of Inquiry has reported its findings to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan who is expected to recommend future action. But Holbrooke said it was too early to consider an international war crimes tribunal.

During the violence many East Timorese were forcibly driven to Indonesian West Timor by the militia. Holbrooke, who visited the territory in November, said that despite agreements there were still more than 100,000 people in the camps.

``At the current rate of departure they are going to be in those camps a very long time.''

He said some people voted against independence and would never go back. Others were prevented from doing so by intimidation, with the militia warning of rape or death if they returned home.

Holbrooke said Indonesia needed to remove the militia -- whom he called ``real thugs'' -- from the camps far more quickly, hopefully to islands other than West Timor.

``The militia have to be removed from the camps. This is the core problem. These are bad people,'' he said.

He said gang members he spoke to said they liked it in the camps because they got food and special treatment. The international community, he said, was paying for this through U.N. relief agencies.

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