|Subject: SMH: Defiant militias reject vote plan
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:50:53 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald Thursday, April 29, 1999
Defiant militias reject vote plan
By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili
Pro-Indonesian paramilitaries have denounced the planned United Nations-monitored vote on East Timor's future, less than 24-hours after the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, and Indonesia's President B.J.Habibie, announced agreement in Bali on a multinational police force to advise on security in the strife-torn territory.
The paramilitiaries vowed to fight for decades if necessary, for continuing rule by Jakarta. "For us, we are trying to tell everybody we reject it, we refuse it," said a paramilitary spokesman, Jose Estavao Soares.
"If it is possible we are ready to face every kind of situation including going up the mountains and fighting for another 23 years like Fretilin and the pro-independence front. The best solution is not a referendum but a dialogue to achieve consensus." The defiance followed assurances by East Timor's regional military commander, Colonel Tono Suratman, to the visiting British Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Derek Fatchett, that the army would start disarming pro-Indonesian paramilitary groups "within weeks".
Mr Soares, who was accompanied by the leader of the pro-Indonesia Aitarak (Thorn) militia, Eurico Guterres, said UN peacekeepers would be at risk if they arrived in East Timor to supervise the ballot on autonomy set for August 8. "We will never accept any kind of peacekeeping force - except maybe a team to assist us on how to avoid conflict," Mr Soares said.
Colonel Suratman said that those who had "guns that kill" would surrender them in coming weeks, adding that his real concern was weapons held by pro-independence Falantil guerillas, who have resisted Indonesian annexation since 1975.
Mr Fatchett said implementation of the agreement to be signed next week in New York would be a test of Indonesia's commitment. Referring to the UN-sponsored ballot he said there was a "real recognition that there is a long way to go between signing an agreement and implementing it".
He had also sought and received guarantees of police protection for the Catholic-run Motael clinic in Dili where many victims of recent paramilitary violence are being treated, he said.
Colonel Suratman had agreed to a request that the International Committee of the Red Cross could go into the mountains unescorted by the army to treat injured refugees who have fled paramilitary violence.
Amid continuing militia threats, one of East Timor's most outspoken independence activists, Mr Manuel Carrascalao, said he would formally request political asylum in Australia for himself and 11 family members until UN peacekeepers or monitors arrived in Dili. Mr Carrascalao's Dili home was ransacked on April 17 and 12 refugees, including his 18-year-old son Manuelito were murdered.
Lindsay Murdoch adds: Human rights groups say evidence continues to mount of atrocities by an Indonesian-backed militia in the Suai region until last Saturday, three days after the signing of a peace pact in Dili. According to their investigations militiamen killed 18 people and tortured or abused 10 between April 9 and 24. Nine others are still missing.