Subject: Detikcom: ABRI will stay neutral in Timor conflict
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:56:28 -0400
From: tapol@gn.apc.org (TAPOL)

Detikcom, 29 April 1999 16.00 WIB

ABRI group in Parliament Says Wiranto will not take sides in Timor Reporter: Nurul Hidayati

detikcom, Jakarta -

Major-General Tjahyono, a member of the armed forces faction in Parliament, has given an undertaking that the armed forces commander, General Wiranto and the army will not take sides in the conflict between pro-integration and pro-independence forces in Timor. ' It is the army's intention to make peace between them because it is totally committed to peace,' he said.

He gave this guarantee during a meeting between members of the armed forces faction in Parliament and members of Solidamor, an NGO concerned with East Timor.

The Solidamor delegation was led by its chairperson Bonar Tigor Naipopos and it was received by a group of MPs consisting of Maj.Gen Tjahyono, Air Vice marshal Balukh and Col. Prayogo. Tyahyono said people should not think for a moment that the commander in chief will side with either side. But Colonel Prayogo said that solving the conflict in ETimor was not an easy matter because it is very widespread and deep. 'Can we be expected to protect every single individual?' he asked. But one thing was certain and that was that the armed forces dont want casualties. He called on all sides to build a consciousness about the need to safeguard security so that the process in Timor can proceed peacecully. This is even more crucial with the forthcoming ballot on 8 August, and on this Solidamor expressed its agreement.

But Bonar said that things were not going as people hoped. 'The situation in East Timor is still extremely oppressive,' he said.

He told the armed forces MPs that during March and April, around 200 people had died, a figure that did not include the wounded and the disappeared.

Maria Pakpahan of Solidamor said that what the armed forces should do if they really wanted the ballot to proceed smoothly was to take back all the weapons being held by the para militaries. 'If any of them persist in violating this, it was up to the army to take firm action,' said Maria. 'If you regard East Timor as part of Indonesian territory, the possession of sharp weapons and especially firearms must be prohibited,' she said, 'especially if they are being held for criminal purposes.'

Bonar also asked about the stance of the armed force because they appeared to be closing their eyes to the formation of these civilian militias. 'It looks as though the army is at odds with the policy of the Habibie government,' said Bonar.


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