Subject: Press release by UN spokesperson in Dili
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 10:12:03 -0400
From: tapol@gn.apc.org (TAPOL)

The United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor Press Statement - For Immediate Use [Received from Yayasan HAK, Dili]

Reliable sources have informed that United Nations that a gang about 60 armed men belonging to Tim Pancasila milicia carried out brutal attack on the village of Atara yesterday just before down, killing five villagers in their homes as they were preparing to go to mass. Young people living in the village, which is about 100 km south of Dili in Atsabe district, fled from the attackers into the bush. They were pursued by the gunmen, who continued firing, killing an unknown number of them.

Later on the same day, at about 10. P.m..in Dili. Aitara milicia members burned down about 10 houses and damaged others in the Metiaut neighbourhood.

The United Nations urgently reminds the Indonesian Government that it agreed, on 5 May 1999, to establish a secure environment devoid of violence or other forms of intimidation so that a free and fair ballot can be held in East Timor on 8 August.

During the 12 days that have passed since Ali Alatas, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, signed this agreement in the presence of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, acts of violence by armed milicias againts the East Timorese civilian population, of which the outrage in Atara is the latest example, have continued to occur.

Words by the Indonesian Government are not enough. Determined action must be taken by the apropriate Indonesian Security authorities to curtail the activities of the armed milicias, whose members roam the streets of Dili and other towns in East Timor at will, shooting citizens and burning homes.

The solution to the conflict in East Timor cannot be found in violence, which only breeds more violence. The solutions lies in the ballot box, which is why the Indonesian Government was wisely chosen to allow East Timorese citizens to decide their own future on 8 August.

The choice facing voters is whether to accept the proposed special autonomy for East Timor within the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, or wether to reject it, which will then lead to East Timor separation from Indonesia.

The armed milicias and their supporters are afraid of allowing this vote to take place, which is why they are seeking to sustain an insecure environment in East Timor and disrupt the consultation process. Their efforts must not be allowed to prevail.

Dili, East Timor, 17 Mei 1999

David Wimhurst, UNAMET Spokesman, Tel: 321662


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