|Subject: AU: UN mission biased, says Indonesia
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 10:24:28 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
The Australian 21 May 99
UN mission biased, says Indonesia By DON GREENLEES and DENNIS SHANAHAN
THE Indonesian Foreign Ministry yesterday accused a UN mission in East Timor of bias and of trying to discredit pro-Indonesian militias after UN officials complained over renewed attacks on civilians in the territory.
The sharp rebuke of the UN came as Indonesia rejected a proposal by the Bishop of Dili, Carlos Belo, to hold fresh peace talks in Australia between those for and against East Timorese independence.
It followed a move by Australia yesterday to express its concern over UN reports that the Indonesian military was training militias which could threaten East Timor's autonomy vote in August.
Alexander Downer telephoned Indonesia's ambassador Wiryano after the UN's spokesman in East Timor said he had witnessed a paramilitary training class at an army base at Atsabe, about 100km south of Dili.
The Foreign Minister told Mr Wiryono the Australian Government's view was that Indonesia's wishes for a successful ballot depended on the help of the UN. "That is, in turn, reliant on the conditions on the ground," Mr Downer told the ambassador.
The UN spokesman, David Wimhurst, was travelling to Atara to investigate reports of a massacre on Sunday when he witnessed the militia training session and decided to abandon the mission.
A Reuters cameraman travelling with the UN envoy said the militiamen were being trained on an army base by a man in an Indonesian military uniform.
"A militia-training class in the town of Atsabe, not far from Atara, where six people were killed by a branch of the same pro-autonomy militia last Sunday, was under way . . . when UN staff arrived in the town to gather more information about the murders," Mr Wimhurst said. "It (the training) was very disciplined and it signified that the militia are actually engaged in a preparation for continued violence."
An Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman told The Australian the UN officials were in East Timor to prepare for the August 8 ballot and had no role as investigators.
"There seems to be a bias by the UN officials over there," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said. "They are not sent to investigate the conflict there between the rival groups but if they make a report it must be balanced. It seemed to me to be a one-sided report, discrediting the pro-Indonesian groups."
Meanwhile, East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, held under house arrest in Jakarta, was told yesterday the Indonesian Government had rejected a request to go to Australia for talks.
Called to a meeting with Information Minister Yunus Yosfiah, Mr Gusmao was told the peace talks could go ahead in Jakarta with pro-independence activists including, Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta.