Subject: RT: U.N. fears militias behind East Timor riots

U.N. fears militias behind East Timor riots

Wednesday, December 11, 2002 Posted: 9:20 AM HKT (0120 GMT)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- A preliminary inquiry into last week's riots in East Timor has found that some of the people behind the violence fled afterwards to neighboring Indonesia, the tiny new nation's U.N. ambassador says.

Some of those behind the riots "sought refuge in west Timor," a province of Indonesia, Ambassador Jose Luis Guterres told reporters, Tuesday, adding he hoped Indonesia would seek to arrest them once the inquiry was completed.

"The situation is now calm," in the capital Dili, he said.

The violence last Tuesday in Dili -- which killed two people and injured 25 others -- was the worst since East Timor became independent in May and has raised fears that outside investment and foreign aid could dry up just when the struggling new nation most needs help.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, blamed the riots on outside instigators who had infiltrated bands of youths. "Stones were thrown, not by students but by agents provocateurs," said de Mello, who joined Guterres at a news conference on a day the United Nations was observing International Human Rights Day.

The U.N. Security Council marked the day with an extended debate on "the protection of civilians in armed conflict," chaired by Foreign Minister Carolina Barco of Colombia, the council president for the month of December.

The eastern part of Timor island voted overwhelmingly for independence in 1999 after 24 years of often harsh rule by Indonesia in a referendum that was followed by a bloody backlash in which over 1,000 people died.

The architects of that violence, Indonesian-backed militias, have since drifted across the border to West Timor or melted back into the general population.

But government officials fear they see the hand of re-emergent militias in Tuesday's riots.

A mob of between 600 and 800 youths went on the rampage, briefly besieging parliament before torching the residence of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, a house belonging to his brother, and another property he rents to the Australia New Zealand Bank.

The mob also looted and torched an Australian-owned guest house and supermarket before finally being dispersed by U.N. peacekeepers and police.

Guterres said the investigation had established that the youths killed in the rioting had not been shot by police. Guterres also announced East Timor had decided to ratify this week all of the major U.N. human rights treaties and related accords.


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