Subject: Arrest Eurico Guterres if necessary: President Wahid

Indonesian Observer September 30, 2000

Arrest Eurico Guterres if necessary: President

JAKARTA (IO) - President Abdurrahman Wahid has ordered police to arrest East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres if he refuses to surrender his weapons.

Security forces are currently in the process or forcibly disarming all militiamen in West Timor.

"A man like Eurico Guterres, if necessary, must be arrested if he violates the law," Wahid was quoted as saying by Antara while on board a flight that arrived in Brazil on late Thursday from Caracas, Venezuela.

Guterres on Monday threatened to mobilize his supporters to occupy the provincial police headquarters if the police chief fails to explain why he was denied a meeting with Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri during an arms handover ceremony last Sunday in Atambua.

Bowing to international pressure, Indonesia this month pledged to disarm the East Timorese militias, following the September 6 killing of three workers of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) in Atambua, the main town for refugee camps of East Timorese.

The deadline to give up the weapons came on Thursday. After that, police were supposed to use force to get the weapons. But an official said security officers could not find any weapons on Thursday.

Wahid, better known as Gus Dur, expressed gratitude that pro-Jakarta East Timorese had fought for integration with Indonesia, but he said they must bow to Indonesian law.

Although they fought for Indonesia, "it does not mean the pro-integration group could violate laws", he said.

Possession of unlicensed firearms by civilians is prohibited in Indonesia, but the militias have long been free to carry their guns with them.

Wahid said that has to stop. "Our law is not discriminative. Anyone who violates the law must be dealt with. I also told Habib Ali Baaqil," he said, referring to the Muslim cleric he accused of involvement in the deadly September 13 bomb blast at the Jakarta Stock Exchange.

Security forces searching for militia weapons in West Timor refugee camps failed to find a single weapon on the first day of the forced disarmament program, officials said.

"The result is nil. There were no weapons in the refugee camps," Novias, a civilian administrator at police headquarters in Atambua told AFP on Thursday.

Novias said the search for arms was continuing and police and soldiers had been sent to more refugee camps in the Belu district, of which Atambua is the main town. "We'll see the outcome," he said.

An AFP photographer in Kupang, the capital of West Timor, said the results of camp searches there had been the same.

After accompanying police backed by Army troops to the Tual Pukan refugee camp some 25 kilometers from Kupang yesterday, the photographer said the search of the camp, which holds 6,300 refugees, revealed just one bullet.

A search of the Noelbaki refugee camp near Kupang, a day earlier, yielded nothing, he added. Belu Police chief Superintendent Simatupang was quoted by Antara as claiming that security personnel managed to seize 27 firearms, 890 homemade weapons and six grenades on Thursday.

Simatupang described the results as "not satisfactory," adding he had ordered police to step up their search efforts.

Militia leader Joanico Cesario and his men surrendered two automatic weapons, 370 rounds of ammunition and seven bullet caches to the provincial police in Kupang yesterday.

Cesario said he did not know how many firearms the militia were holding now. "We as militia leaders will continue to persuade [our members] to voluntarily surrender their weapons, especially standard [military] firearms," he said.

e said he believed pro-Jakarta militias would be willing to surrender their weapons if the government focuses on the fate of the militiamen and some 130,000 refugees still languishing in the squalid West Timor camps.


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