Subject: AAP: Indon should act to avert 'catastrophe' in E Timor
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:41:08 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

AAP NEWSFEED Tuesday April 6, 1999,

Indonesia should act to avert 'catastrophe' in E Timor

MELBOURNE, April 6 AAP - A potential bloodbath was facing East Timor unless Indonesia disarmed paramilitaries and ceased all offensive action in the territory, an international conference in Melbourne said today.

The statement by 40 representatives of international organisations said that after six months of apparent democratic progress towards independence from Indonesia, East Timor had reached "a potentially catastrophic reversal".

"Throughout this period, the Indonesian military has been fostering terror and violence in East Timor, arming the paramilitaries who intimidate the civilian population and discouraging any expression of pro-independence sentiment," the group said in the statement.

They urged the government to arrange an urgent meeting with East Timorese resistance leader Jose Xanana Gusmao and to cooperate with the United Nations to establish a peace-keeping force in the territory.

Mr Gusmao has told the territory's citizens to defend themselves against armed militia groups who are "killing the population with impunity".

The head of the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT) yesterday addressed the Melbourne conference in Portuguese via videotape from Jakarta in Indonesia, where he is under house arrest.

He said that after more than two decades of criminal repression and 23 years of military annexation of East Timor, it was the first time the Timorese could plan their future.

In today's statement, the groups said paramilitary activity had opened the way for an "increased bloodbath".

"News has reached us that yesterday (Sunday) these civilian militias, backed up by the Indonesian military, have killed and injured civilians in Liquica, East Timor.

"In response, Xanana Gusmao has been compelled to call for the citizens of East Timor to defend themselves against the armed militia groups who have been killing the population with impunity under the indifferent eye of the international community."

Signatories to the statement included Janet Hunt, executive director of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, Steve Alston, Timor program officer, and Gus Miclat (Miclat), coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in late 1975 and annexed the territory several months later, but the Indonesian occupation has always been regarded as illegal by the United Nations.

Australia is one of only a handful of nations to recognise Indonesian sovereignty.

The Melbourne conference will run till Friday.

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