|Subject: AFP: Pattern of militia threats in East
Timor "of major concern": UNAMET
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:45:37 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Pattern of militia threats in East Timor "of major concern": UNAMET
DILI, East Timor, JUly 5 (AFP) - The pattern of pro-Indonesian militia threats against the UN mission in East Timor is of "major concern," UNAMET chief Ian Martin said here Monday.
"We will be making a further assessment of the situation (in Liquisa district) today," Martin told a press conference here, adding he was to meet with the Indonesian task force to "express in the strongest possible terms our concern."
Martin was speaking after a humanitarian aid convoy in Liquisa, west of Dili, was attacked over the weekend, forcing evacuation of the UN personnel there to the capital, Dili.
In a separate incident in Liquisa, unarmed UN police carrying out the evacuation were fired at.
"There is certainly a pattern of incidents and threats from the militias to UN personnel... in a lot of different places, and its a major concern for us," Martin said.
"I'm not in a position to say whether it's a concerted strategy and who's concerting it, but its certainly happening in a number of places."
One representative of a non-governmental organization was hospitalized after the ambush, and five NGO personnel and one refugee travelling with the convoy remained unaccounted for, according to Martin.
Asked if he thought a series of militia attacks and threats against UNAMET in the past few days were deliberate, Martin said there was an "inexcusable lack of action."
"It's certainly an inexcusable lack of action because the situation in Liquisa has been of great concern to us since the time we first started establishing a presence here, and we have repeatedly reported to police the sighting of armed militias around Liquisa town, as well as specific menaces to our own personnel.
"In some places we see quite a serious effort by the police, certainly to provide us with the security we ask for, and indeed to try to improve the security situation more generally.
"We haven't seen that in Liquisa. Whether that's a failure of will or competence I'm not going say."
Asked if the security situation could further delay a UN-supervised vote on the territory's future currently scheduled for late August, Martin said: "My recommendation will be made first to the (UN) Secretary General, not at a press conference."
However, he said he had spoken to the secretary general's special envoy on East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, who is currently in the Australian capital, Canberra.
Marker was Monday meeting Australian Defence Minister John Moore and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to discuss the latest attack, and admitted the security situation had thrown next month's autonomy poll into doubt.
Marker said the poll could not go ahead in the current security environment.
"Well if it was to be conducted today, I don't think we could, but we have some time and time for the Indonesian authorities to improve the security situation as they've assured us that they would.
"We're very concerned," he told ABC radio.
He said he had received assurances from Indonesian officials including military chief General Wiranto in Jakarta last week that they would be taking measures to arrest the violence.
"I'm waiting for a full report on this one before we decide what to do," Marker added.
"General Wiranto said he was reinforcing the police contingent there and also was putting increased police protection around the UNAMET offices."
Marker could not say whether the latest attack had shown Indonesia was unable to control the militia.
"This is a matter, indeed of great concern, but until I get more detail and speak again to the Indonesian authorities, it's hard for me to say."
The security situation would be monitored carefully in the lead-up to the August poll, he said.
"It's something we're going to have to watch. Clearly the agreement says the Indonesian authorities are responsible for security.
"And if there's not a secure environment we're going to have to look at it very carefully."