|Subject: AFP: Pro-Indon militias blamed for nearly
all E.Timor violence
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 06:45:49 EDT
Watchdog blames pro-Indonesian militias for East Timor violence
JAKARTA, Aug 20 (AFP) - Pro-Indonesian militias have caused nearly all the violence and rights violations reported during the East Timor self-determination referendum campaign, a watchdog said Friday.
The Independent Committee for Direct Ballot Monitoring (KIPER) said it has discovered 55 human rights violation cases by the militias in East Timor seven regencies up to Thursday.
Committee activist, Bonar Tigor Naipospos told a press briefing that "violations in the form of threats and intimidations rank the highest among the cases."
Naipospos said the pro-independence camp has committed "a very minor violation," by campaigning ahead of the official start on August 14.
There are at least 13 pro-Indonesia militias roaming the 13 districts of East Timor where vote on Indonesia's offer of autonomy is to be held on August 30.
The United Nations, which is organising the vote, and observer groups say they are armed or supported by the Indonesian military. The United Nations has called for army officers with known links to the militias to be withdrawn from East Timor.
Based on validated reports from KIPER's 816 volunteers at 156 polling stations, Naipospos said most reported crimes took place in Bobonaro district, some 75 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the capital, Dili.
He said militias were blamed for 18 cases of abductions, illegal carrying of firearms, vandalism and the destruction and obstruction of campaign properties.
Observers have also noted similar violations in six other regencies in the troubled province, including Dili.
"The form of violations by pro-independence supporters are by campaigning earlier than the schedule.
"However the group claimed they have not done anything wrong since they have been campaigning for referendum there for the last 24 years," he said.
The official campaign for the vote started last weekend. East Timorese will be given the chance to approve or reject an Indonesian autonomy offer in the ballot.
A spokesman for the Indonesian Task Force in East Timor, Dino Djalal, has accussed the KIPER committee of taking sides with pro-independence groups during the campaign.
But Naiposos defended KIPER's record. "As a UN-accredited committee we are professionals, therefore we are always trying to gather inputs from all sides," he said.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has twice postponed the vote, partly because of continuing violence by militias against independence supporters in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975.