Subject: SMH: Timor cry for help as UN flies in, Bishop Nascimento
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 11:35:42 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Sydney Morning Herald 25/05/99

Timor cry for help as UN flies in

By MARK DODD in Baucau, East Timor

As the first cargo jet arrived with equipment and personnel for the United Nations mission in East Timor, a church leader called for the urgent deployment of blue beret monitors to stop the intimidation and disinformation by army-backed pro-Indonesian militia.

There was tight security at Baucau military airfield yesterday morning when a Russian Ilyushin 76 touched down with 25 tonnes of communications and logistical supplies for the United Nations Assistance Mission to East Timor (UNAMET).

The plane, under charter to the UN, had left Brindisi in southern Italy on Sunday and stayed overnight in Jakarta before flying to Baucau, about 110 kilometres east of the East Timor capital, Dili.

The Bishop of Baucau, Basilio Do Nascimento, warned in an interview of a widespread campaign of militia disinformation ahead of the August ballot on East Timor's future.

"The pro-independence movement is over now because ABRI [Indonesian military] does not allow them to exist," he said. "I think the most important thing is to create a climate of freedom and this can only be assured by the United Nations."

Bishop Nascimento said local people were confused by lies spread by pro-Indonesian militia groups which claimed the referendum was a pre-signed agreement for autonomy within Indonesia, and the vote just a formality.

He said one pro-independence leader was unable to leave his Baucau home because of fears he would be killed.

"They [independence movement] are underground," he said. "They cannot explain their ideas. They cannot contact the population."

Bishop Nascimento expressed serious concern about the situation in the Viqueque district on the south-east coast, the birthplace of Eurico Guterres, leader of the Aitarak militia whose members joined a murderous rampage through Dili last month.

If the UN was able to ensure a secure environment for a free and fair vote, he said, the majority of the population in Baucau, Manatuto, Viqueque and Lautem would vote overwhelmingly for independence.

"I feel the independence movement would be in the majority if there is a free climate."

The bishop's views were backed by the chairman of the Catholic Peace and Justice Commission in Baucau, Mr Ilidio Gusmao.

"There is psychological intimidation in Baucau but not so much by weapons," he said. "As you can see around you, every house has a red and white [Indonesian] flag. They are putting the flags up to stay alive."

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 after the sudden departure of the former colonial power, Portugal, incorporating the half-island territory as its 27th province the following year.

More than 250,000 people died of massacres, starvation and disease in the early years of Indonesian occupation.

On January 17, President Habibie announced that he would offer East Timor a choice of special autonomy within Indonesia or, if that was rejected, independence.

Human rights groups says more than 100 people have died - mostly pro-independence supporters - scores injured and hundreds driven underground or exiled as a result of pro-autonomy militia violence since January.

As the Russian cargo plane touched down, a detachment of red beret Indonesian paratroops secured the airfield while police commandos monitored the loading of trucks which departed for Dili soon after midday.

At Dili port in the afternoon about 20 four-wheel-drive vehicles were unloaded from a ship carrying transport and office equipment for the UN mission.

On Baucau airstrip, the deputy chief of security for the UN Timor mission, Mr Ian Young, said: "This is the spearhead of many shipments to come. It contains mainly communications equipment so that we can get a direct line back to New York."

Mr Young said he was aware of security concerns in East Timor but no violence had been directed against UN personnel so far and he praised Indonesian authorities for their co-operation.

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