|Subject: GU: E Timor's day-old peace deal shatters
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 10:41:05 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo:
East Timor's day-old peace deal shatters
Militias ignore pact as talks on autonomy begin in New York
By John Aglionby in Dili Friday April 23, 1999
Terrorism and murder continued unabated in East Timor yesterday, leaving in tatters the peace agreement signed by the leaders of the territory's opposing factions in a grand ceremony only the day before.
Human rights workers confirmed reports that eight people had been killed in three separate incidents by paramilitaries loyal to Indonesia, while groups opposed to independence said nine of their members had been kidnapped by guerrillas.
Few of the paramilitaries patrolling the streets of the capital Dili for the past two weeks were visible yesterday but they maintained checkpoints on several roads out of the town, turning back foreign journalists and anyone they suspected of being a pro-independence activist.
Trucks full of soldiers and riot police roared around the town in greater numbers than usual and as darkness fell shots were heard in several neighbourhoods in what is becoming a nightly exercise of intimidation by the military and their militias. Non-governmental organisations continued to receive threatening phone calls.
In one attack yesterday, a militia burnt or destroyed nine houses and killed two people in the Cailako district, 25 miles west of Dili. Five other people were killed as they were preparing to go out to tend their crops. And an eighth person died when paramilitaries clashed with pro-independence supporters near Dili airport.
A European man who had spent the past few days in East Timor's interior said the paramilitaries were ignoring the peace agreement and continuing to recruit.
'I also saw them parading up and down roads in several villages in the morning, afternoon and evening,' he said. 'It was clear they were not preparing for peace.'
Many people believe the death toll in East Timor is much higher than that being reported.
'We have heard about these attacks today because they are in and around Dili,' Joao da Silva, a student leader, said. 'We have no idea what is going on in the more remote areas.'
He said he was not surprised the peace deal, which was brokered and witnessed by the commander of Indonesia's armed forces, General Wiranto, had failed to hold for even 24 hours. 'It was imposed from above by the army. What we need is an agreement that comes from the hearts of the people.'
Gen Wiranto hurriedly drew up the pact in the wake of international condemnation after army-backed paramilitaries perpetrated two massacres in 12 days.
It will never be known how many people died in the attacks because the security forces prevented independent investigations before clearing away the evidence.
Members of Indonesia's human rights commission were allowed to visit Liquica only yesterday, more than two weeks after at least 25 people were killed as they sought refuge in a church.
'I am very dissatisfied with what I saw,' one commissioner, Koespararno Irsan, said. 'The army had removed everything and repaired all the damage.'
The East Timor Student Solidarity Movement yesterday sent more than 500 volunteers to remote communities to monitor the security situation. 'The aim is also to engage the people in dialogue because we will never achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis without talking to each other,' Mr Da Silva said.
All East Timorese around the world are due to vote in a UN-sponsored ballot in July on whether to accept wide-ranging autonomy from Jakarta. If they reject it, the Indonesian president, BJ Habibie, has promised to give independence to the former Portuguese colony, which was invaded by Jakarta in 1975.
Indonesia's foreign minister, Ali Alatas, met the Portuguese foreign minister, Jamie Gama, in New York yesterday for two days of talks to settle the terms of the autonomy package. If the proposal is agreed, UN monitors are expected to open a permanent office in East Timor at the beginning of next month.
A team of UN staff arrived in East Timor yesterday but their leader and head of the UN Development Programme in Indonesia, Ravi Rajin, said their visit was unconnected with the talks in New York. 'We are here on a humanitarian mission, nothing more.'