Subject: U.S., Britain again warn Indon it could lose aid unless militias disarmed

The Associated Press 9/29/00

U.S., Britain: Indonesia could lose aid unless it reins in Timor militias


UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Britain joined the United States in warning Indonesia on Friday that it risked losing foreign aid if it doesn't disarm militias in West Timor and arrest those responsible for slaying three U.N. aid workers.

British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock told the U.N. Security Council that Britain would find it difficult to continue extending support to Indonesia at an upcoming donor meeting in Tokyo, unless action was taken against the militias.

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen warned during a Sept. 18 visit to Jakarta that Indonesia risked losing financial assistance if it didn't move to break up the militias.

East Timor was laid waste by anti-independence milita groups after its people overwhelmingly voted to break from Indonesia in a U.N.-sponsored ballot last year.

The paramilitaries are now intent on destabilizing U.N.-administered East Timor's transition to self-rule and preventing 120,000 East Timorese refugees who sought safety in Indonesian-held West Timor from returning home. Three U.N. aid workers in the West Timor border town of Atambua were slain by a milita mob on Sept. 6.

The U.N. administrator for East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, told ambassadors that the militias must be disarmed, disbanded and their leaders must be arrested.

"Regrettably, I remain skeptical that current activities will achieve this goal," de Mello said. "Where resolution and a certain degree of ruthlessness would seem to be required, we are witnessing hesitation and prevarication."

Indonesian Ambassador Marakim Wibisono bristled at the criticism. He said the slain workers had ignored Indonesian warning to leave Atambua "and hence could not be saved."

Britain's statement came after a two-day security crackdown against militias in West Timor netted only 21 weapons. Peter Kessler, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in East Timor, dismissed the effort as "a real disappointment." Wibisono defended the operation, saying a greater number of weapons had been collected prior to the crackdown.

Many militiamen have fled the region's towns for militia strongholds, vowing to defy the government's order for them to give up their guns.

Indonesian police said about 1,000 armed officers and soldiers were deployed to nine militia strongholds on Thursday across West Timor to clamp down on the groups.

Militiamen in the regional capital of Kupang voluntarily handed over an array of arms that included grenades, automatic rifles and shotguns.

The militias also surrendered some weapons last week the handover came to a halt after a clash on Sunday between security forces and the militias.

Jakarta alone is responsible for ending West Timor attacks, Security Council told

29 September -- The head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) told the Security Council today that the Government of Indonesia alone was responsible for dealing with violent militia in West Timor.

Briefing the Council in New York, UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello said the militia were the root cause of problems between Dili and Jakarta. "Only when this problem has been effectively addressed will we be able to resolve the plight of the remaining East Timorese refugees and focus on developing friendly cooperation between East Timor and Indonesia," he said.

Referring to Indonesia's current attempts to 'persuade' the militias to surrender their weapons, Mr. Vieira de Mello said he remained "sceptical" that the measures would be effective. He suggested instead that Indonesia put together a coordinated strategy to "hunt down and break up the militias and bring their leaders to justice."

Mr. Vieira de Mello also recounted to the Security Council the events of 24 September in Atambua, West Timor, where an UNTAET delegation attending a disarmament ceremony was threatened and detained by an agitated crowd of pro-militia supporters led by Eurico Guterres, whom the UN official called a "well-known suspect of crimes against humanity." Moreover, according to a senior Indonesian army official in West Timor, there were still no suspects in the killings of three UN aid workers in Atambua on 5 September, he said.

"There could hardly be a more eloquent demonstration of Indonesia's current inability - or refusal - to deal effectively with the problem," he said. "This is impunity running rampant."

On a more positive note, the UNTAET chief reported that considerable progress had been made in the reconstruction of East Timor. Since mid-July, a new Cabinet structure had become operational, setting policies related to taxation, criminal procedure, transportation and public building reconstruction. Plans are also under way for the holding of national elections in the latter half of 2001, including a civic education campaign, approval of a law on political parties and the creation of a framework in which to hold the vote.

Following Mr. Vieira de Mello's briefing, the Council engaged in an open discussion of the situation in East and West Timor, with more than 20 delegates taking part in the deliberations.

September Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from