Subject: Carter Center Weekly Report on East Timor, No. 5, August 9-16
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 1999 12:20:20 +1200
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Tuesday August 17, 1999 CONTACT: In Dili, Doug Archard 0390 313 777

Carter Center Weekly Report on East Timor, No. 5, August 9-16, 1999

(Background: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center are closely monitoring the popular consultation process on autonomy in East Timor. Ten Carter Center observers have been traveling throughout East Timor since July 4 to assess preparations for the vote, the security environment, and the fairness of the campaign, while remaining strictly neutral and nonpartisan. The following is the fifth in a series of weekly reports to be issued by The Carter Center observer mission before and after the consultation.)

The popular consultation moved into a new phase this week, with the end of the registration process and the beginning of the political campaign period, which is scheduled to run through August 27. As the campaign period begins, The Carter Center notes no significant improvements in the security situation in East Timor or fulfillment by the Government of Indonesia (GOI) of its security obligations under the May 5 New York agreements. Indonesian Army, police, and civil officials have failed to intervene against or have actively participated in attacks on pro-independence supporters’ activities.

The Carter Center does note the recently announced change in military command in Dili. Further, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Jamsheed Marker has issued a statement concerning Indonesian military support for pro-integration militias, assuring that measures are being taken to correct the situation.

Nevertheless, of particular concern to The Carter Center observers during the past week were the following developments:

Intimidation, including explicit death threats, of UNAMET personnel, which has continued in several districts. In one location, UNAMET CIVPOLs officials were assaulted while attempting to protect students who were being attacked by pro-integration militia.

Harassment of pro-independence elements, particularly students and National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) political party workers, which has increased sharply in some locations.

A substantial increase in the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), with thousands of new IDPs in Viqueque, where an Aug. 11 attack resulted in two deaths, and a worsening of conditions of IDPs in Suai and Same.

Carter Center observers also collected further information that reinforces our previous reports. This includes continued examples of the Indonesian military (TNI) supporting and directing armed pro-integration militias and the police watching passively as militia attacked pro-independence groups, although in at least one case police protected the opening of a CNRT office.

New evidence also shows a strengthening of existing militias and a spread across East Timor of more aggressive pro-integration militias. GOI officials continue to actively campaign for the integration option, and to provide food, other resources, and support to pro-integration groups. Carter Center observers also have seen an unevenly balanced distribution of campaign opportunities in some districts.

Meanwhile, there has been no perceptible movement toward the concentration of TNI troops into district centers, nor has there been any reduction in TNI troops in East Timor. In fact, according to one authoritative report, troop strength is being reinforced.

To date, we have seen little demonstration of GOI behavior designed to create the necessary conditions for a free, open, and democratic consultation in East Timor. There remains widespread concern that continued insecurity could jeopardize the consultation process. ______________________________________________________________________

This report is based on interviews with the Commission for Peace and Stability, police, military, local government and church officials, local residents, internally displaced persons, students, and militia members. It also includes interviews with Indonesian Government civilian, military, and police officials; Timorese non-governmental organizations; UNAMET officials; diplomats; and representatives of international organizations. Additional interviews were conducted with diplomats, members of pro-integration groups (which favor the autonomy option for East Timor), members of pro-independence groups, and others. All interviews were held in Bobonaro, Dili, Baucau, Lautem, Viqueque, Ainaro, Manufahi and Covalima districts during the past week.

Physical Attacks and Intimidation: The Aug. 11 attack on the newly-opened student office in Viqueque was the most serious act of intimidation since April. Two persons were killed and at least three wounded in the attack. Two international journalists had to take shelter for 45 minutes while firing continued. Some residents fled 10 miles to Ossu.

Meanwhile, security forces and pro-integration militias continued to threaten and intimidate others across East Timor. Center observers in Baucau noted the unusual presence of Aitarak militia in that district. Two Indonesian air force fighter aircraft swooped low Aug. 12 over the church in the town of Suai (simulating a bombing attack). On Aug. 13, in Dili’s old market area, TNI soldiers and Aitarak militia reportedly fired scores of rounds into the air. Residents considered the firing as intimidation on the eve of the campaign period.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): Numbers of IDPs increased significantly this week. A reported 5,000 persons fled the Viqueque attack. Their flight is the largest such movement since April. Some of them who had taken refuge in Ossu sub-district told Carter Center observers that militia members threatened with death all young men over age 15. In Suai, some 700 new IDPs joined others at the church. They told Carter Center observers that pro-integration militia threats had caused them to leave villages elsewhere in Covalima district. In Ritabou, Bobonoro, 62 new IDPs fled in fear.

In Covalima, church officials reported that fear of militia on the roads prevented food convoys from reaching IDPs. In Covalima and Manufahi, church officials said supplies of food, water, and medicine were exhausted.

Political Campaign: Preparations for the campaign period proceeded through the week. On Aug. 8, the two sides agreed on a code of conduct and the two symbols (pro-independence and pro-integration) to be used. While the symbols contain some similar elements, no one with whom Carter Center observers have spoken has expressed concern that this would lead to confusion. Plans for campaigning in the districts vary widely. In Bobonaro, three pro-integration groups have been allocated three days each for exclusive campaigning, while the pro-independence CNRT will have only three days in total. In contrast, in Baucau, the pro-integration party and the pro-independence party have agreed to share campaign days but in separate locations.

The Role of the Police: Failure of the Indonesian police to live up to their obligations under the May 5 New York agreements continues. Police units have not assumed responsibility for protecting the population, nor do they appear seriously to be investigating politically-related incidents reported to them. Police units failed to take action to protect pro-independence groups and foreign journalists during the Aug. 11 attack in Viqueque. The police should be commended, however, for successfully providing security at the Aug. 13 opening of the CNRT office in Suai.

The Role of the Military: Deployment of TNI units across East Timor down to small hamlet-based units has not changed. Repeated promises from government sources that such units will be “cantoned” at the district level have not been met. Carter Center personnel have observed TNI trucks filled with armed soldiers on full alert, apparently on patrol. Furthermore, a senior international observer reported that TNI personnel from West Timor have reinforced locally-based troops. Meanwhile, intimidation by the Indonesian military also continued, including TNI soldiers participating in an Aug. 11 attack on pro-independence activists in Viqueque.

The Role of UNAMET: UNAMET’s successful coordination of the approval of a campaign code of conduct and polling symbols is a mark of the respect which most parties accord it. In the two districts for which we have evidence, UNAMET and The Commission for Peace and Stability (KPS) have played supportive roles in getting the parties together to plan for the campaign. Still, UNAMET’s ability to function during the rest of the consultation will remain dependent on the perceived security of its local staff, many of whom are being put at risk by their employment. Thus it remains essential that UN and Indonesian authorities allocate increased attention to the matter.

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