Subject: AFP: East Timor mulls arrival of UN police force for August poll
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:49:46 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

East Timor mulls arrival of UN police force for August poll

DILI, East Timor, April 28 (AFP) - The East Timorese capital of Dili was calm Wednesday mulling an accord to deploy a UN police force during an August referendum on the territory's future, as foreign envoys sounded out opinion.

Three visiting foreign dignitaries were in town -- British Deputy Foreign Minister Derek Fatchett who arrived here from Bali earlier Wednesday, Portuguese envoy to Jakarta Ana Gomes and Belgian Ambassador to Jakarta, Luk Drassar who have been here since Tuesday.

"With the arrival of the many diplomats and foreign officials here in the past days, Dili has been relatively calm but I do not think it is the case in the regions," said Joaquim, a staff member at the Foundation for Human Rights and Justice here.

Indonesian President B.J. Habibie on Tuesday announced a vote on an autonomy offer for East Timor would be held on August 8, but it has met with mixed reactions in Timor.

Many said it would come too late, giving pro-Indonesian groups more time to pressure the population to accept the autonomy option.

"There is too much time (between now and August 8) and something is certain to be done by the pro-Indonesia groups in the meantime ... we should be careful because there is much engineering going on," said Manuel Carrascalao.

Carrascalao, a pro-independence former MP who lost one son in an attack on his refugee-packed house here by armed pro-Jakarta militias on April 17, was speaking from the police headquarters where he has sheltered since the attack.

Details about the UN force remained sketchy.

But an Australian source said Tuesday: "Probably they will start as soon as possible, after May 5 ... a tiny team of five or six men would go in almost straight away."

Pro-independence groups and human rights watchdogs have alleged continuing terror and harrasment by officials and pro-Indonesia supporters of the local population in various towns ahead of the ballot.

Jakarta has said if the majority of the East Timor's 800,000 people reject the autonomy offer then it will give independence to the territory which it invaded in 1975 and unilaterally annexed a year later.

But since, Jakarta's surprise announcement in January tensions between the two camps have risen.

Joaquim, who declined to give his full name, said eight bodies were dragged out of the Tavara river estuary in the southwestern Suai district on Saturday.

"The bodies were found in a rotting condition, so it was really difficult for us to know how they had died before they were dumped in the river," he said.

Security and local officials denied there had been any kidnapping and killing of pro-independence Timorese by military backed militias.

"It is not true, no bodies have been found here. Come on over and check for yourself," Captain Samsudin of the Suai military command said.

Pro-independence guerrillas had however set fire to public transport Tuesday causing no casualties, he said. "The press look away when it's an attack against the pro-Indonesians," he added.

Fatchett is the first member of the British government to visit East Timor since its annexation in 1976.

Before leaving Jakarta he said he would seek to promote an end to the violence. On Wednesday he met with Dili Bishop and Nobel laureate Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo as well as Jakarta-appointed Governor Jose Osorio Abilio Soares.

He also briefly visited a church clinic. "He came to give the aid of medicine and some supplies to take care of wounds. He also visited and talked with some of the patients," said Sister Inacio who heads the clinic.

He later met with the head of the East Timorese command Colonel Tono Suratman but both declined immediate comment.

Gomes meanwhile met with Carrascalao and another pro-independence activists, Leandro Issac but declined to comment on their talks saying they were "confidential but important."

She also met representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the local East Timor office of the National Commission on Human Rights, and refugees sheltering in the East Timor police command.

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