Subject: Jakarta afraid of cracking down on militias, says UN

Indonesian Observer Monday, August 7, 2000

Jakarta afraid of cracking down on militias, says UN

SUAI Indonesian authorities have not cracked down on anti-independence militias in refugee camps in West Timor because they are afraid of a wider uprising, a senior UN peacekeeper in East Timor said yesterday.

Australian Army Brigadier Duncan Lewis blamed a lack of resolve by Indonesia to stamp out militia activity in the camps, which are home to tens of thousands of refugees from East Timor.

The refugees fled the violence and destruction that broke out in East Timor when pro-Indonesian militias refused to accept the results of the independence ballot 11 months ago. The people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia, which invaded in 1975.

"Indonesia is unwilling or incapable of clamping down vigorously on the militia groups for fear of creating wider community disruption," said Lewis.

"To act decisively would upset the militia groups, and would stir up trouble within the camps. I think there is a worry within the Indonesian military of a community backlash if they were to take more vigorous action."

Indonesia announced last week that it wanted to close the camps that are home to about 90,000 East Timorese. The camps have been used as training and recruitment grounds for militia groups and springboards for attacks into East Timor.

Two militiamen were killed by Australian peacekeepers inside East Timor, near the border last week.

Lewis said the men belonged to the Luxor militia group, one of many armed and trained by the Indonesian military in the leadup to the violence.

He said all of the militiamen his troops have come in contact with have identified themselves as belonging to one of the militia groups which were active in East Timor last year.

New Zealand peacekeeper Private Leonard Manning (24) was killed by another militia gang last month. The brigadier said the two incidents and the two militia groups were not linked.

The peacekeeping force was also tracing the serial numbers on the automatic rifles and grenades found with the dead militiamen. "There are still militia in the area where the contact occurred last week. We’ve been following up two bands that are still in the area, and we will continue to follow them until they’re found," said Lewis.

About 2,500 peacekeepers are patrolling the border. Their efforts were boosted Sunday by the arrival of four Black Hawk helicopters from Australia. The Black Hawks have night vision capability.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, who was in the town of Suai, 200 kilometers southwest of Dili, called for the return of the bodies of the victims of a massacre at the town’s cathedral 11 months ago.

She met with a group of survivors of the massacre who also demanded justice, even though the refugees have not been allowed to return to East Timor.

"Justice can't wait for everything to be somehow resolved. It’s time for things to move along and for there to be prosecutions before the court and justice to be done, even before the refugees are brought back," said Robinson. AP


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