Subject: Indon military says law will be enforced on militia; US denies embargo (again)

Indonesian military says law will be enforced on militia

JAKARTA, Oct 3 (AFP) - Indonesia's armed forces on Tuesday again warned they would take legal measures against pro-Jakarta militias who refuse to surrender their weapons before an October 17 deadline.

"If they insist on retaining their weapons, legal measures will be taken against them," armed forces (TNI) spokesman Air Vice Marshal Graito Usodo told a press briefing here.

Usodo was referring to the militiamen who are among the 130,000 East Timorese refugees in West Timor, most of them in camps which Jakarta is vowing to close down soon.

Jakarta has appealed to the international community to assist with the problem, saying it does not have the resources to repatriate or resettle the refugees in other parts of Indonesia.

The year-long problems of the militia and refugees in West Timor did not "solely belong to the TNI," Usodo said.

But he made no reference to US embassy statements saying Washington's offer of aid to help resettle the refugees had been ignored.

Usodo's statement came a day after House Speaker Akbar Tanjung pointed the blame at the rest of the world for the volatile situation in West Timor, where three foreign UN relief workers were murdered in the border town of Atambua on September 6.

"What has taken place in Atambua was a reflection of the international community's inability to handle problems in East Timor following the direct ballot," Tanjung told parliament on Monday.

The murders have placed Indonesia under mounting political and economic pressure from the UN Security Council and the international community to disband and disarm the militias.

The US embassy in Jakarta meanwhile issued another press statement denying statements from Indonesian officials of a proposed economic embargo on Indonesia.

"The embassy wished to clarify that no US government official has suggested that the US is considering an embargo," the statement said.

"It is not United States government policy," the statement added, referring to claims by some officials that Washington -- which suspended military aid to Indonesia over the Timor debacle last year -- was threatening Indonesia over the militias.

The pro-Jakarta militias went on the rampage in East Timor after the UN-held vote on August 30, 1999 in which the people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.

Usodo said the TNI acknowledges that the militias -- raised and trained by the military during their 24 years of occuption of East Timor -- "had been our counterparts during the old days."

"The fact that they (the army and the militias) still know each other is undeniable, but now that they have been disbanded, as part of the law enforcement process they must surrender their weapons to the police," he said.

Indonesian police on Monday extended their search for weapons in West Timor for another 15 days.

Jakarta had initially given the militias until September 27 to voluntarily surrender their firearms, after which they launched a three-day security operation to seize weapons.

But the hauls were insignificant and many, including one UN official, labelled the disarmament process "pathetic" and lacking firm enforcement.

The militias fled to West Timor following the deployment of international peacekeeping forces in East Timor in September 1999. They have since continued a reign of terror in refugee camps there, rights and relief workers have said.


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