|Subject: US senators warn Indon over security in E.
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 04:34:50 EDT
US senators warn Indonesia over security in East Timor
DILI, East Timor, Aug 20 (AFP) - US congressmen warned Friday that ties with the United States could be hit if the Indonesian military failed to maintain security in East Timor.
"This is a test case for the Indonesian authorities, particularly the military, whether or not they can conduct a safe and fair election," Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said shortly after arriving with two other US senators.
"It is a test of whether we will continue to support their efforts, both in terms of financial support to Indonesia and also in increasing ties to their military," Reed added.
He said that if they failed the test, support may not be going to be "easily forthcoming."
Iowa Democrat senator Tom Harkin said "the eyes of the congress are really watching what happens here, in terms of what our relationship with Indonesia is going to be in the future."
Reed, Harkin and Jack McGovern, a Democrat from Massachussetts arrived on a US Air Force jet for a visit until Saturday.
Harkin said they will meet with leaders of groups supporting and opposing independence, the church, the military and the police in East Timor as well as the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET.)
They will also visit Maliana, some 75 kilometres (47 miles) southwest of Dili on Saturday before leaving.
Their visit coincided with the 24th anniversary of the Falintil, the armed wing of the East Timorese separatist group, which was marked with flag raisings, weddings and baptism across the territory.
In Dili, 800 civilians watched a dozen East Timorese youths in traditional dress hoist the flag of the pro-independence movement, the National Resistance Council of East Timor (CNRT), in front of a CNRT office in the Audian neighbourhood.
The blue, white and green flag was hoisted in front of the same CNRT office which had been attacked by pro-Indonesian militias earlier this week.
A bullet hole in one window pane on the second floor of the building remained a testimony of the attack, sandwiched between two pro-independence posters.
"The international community has to continue to act to exert consistent presure on Jakarta," CNRT spokesman Agio Perreira, told journalists after the ceremony.
"The existence of the milita in East Timor is in itself a violation of Indonesian criminal law...The international community must not turn a blind eye to that," Perreira said,.
The crowd then celebrated with music and dancing.
"I think up to 20,000 people will celebrate this day in the four Falintil cantonments across East Timor," said Father Filomeno Jacob from the margin of the festivities in Dili.
Under an agreement between the CNRT and the pro-Indonesian camp, Falintil has agreed to canton their men in specified locations during the campaign and ballot day in an effort to curb violence.
Jacob said he believed the largest celebration would be at Waimori in central East Timor, where he said 8,000 to 9,000 people were expected to take part.
Waimori is the cantonment of the troops under Falintil deputy commander Taur Matan Ruak. Besides the festivities,"we will also have (church) masses, baptism even weddings," Jacob said.
The official campaign for the August 30 self-determination vote, organised by the United Nations, started last weekend. East Timorese will be given the chance to approve or reject an Indonesian autonomy offer.
Jakarta has said it may let the former Portuguese colony go independent if the offer is rejected. Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975.