Subject: UN Aerial survey shows urgent need for teams to probe atrocities
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 12:42:32 -0400

UN calls for rights investigators after seeing towns wiped out

DILI, East Timor, Sept 25 (AFP) - The UN Mission in East Timor, after making an aerial survey of destroyed towns in the territory, said Saturday there was an urgent need for teams to begin probing human rights atrocities.

UNAMET spokesman David Wimhurst said reconnaisance flights of East Timor's eastern districts had revealed massive destruction, with complete towns levelled and no people in sight.

And he called for a specialist team to immediately begin investigating massacres and human rights abuses committed during a terror campaign mounted by Indonesian army-backed militia.

Wimhurst, who was among UN staff evacuated to Darwin at the height of the violence, told reporters at his first news conference since returning here Friday that the problem was "big, very big."

"I'm pleased to be back, even though before I left the town was not so devastated," he said. "This is the first time I've seen it and as you know, it's pretty shocking."

There were positive signs on Saturday of a return to Dili by some of its civilian population, with the Saturday morning markets doing a brisk trade in food to hungry people.

But Wimhurst said tens of thousands of people still had not been able to return. "That will not happen until the security position improves," he said.

He said UNAMET did not yet have teams of investigators deployed in the investigation of human right abuses reported throughout the territory.

"It's obviously very clear that specialist investigation teams are necessary to come into the territory as soon as possible to assist UNAMET and to assist the UN civilian police and others who would be engaged in this inevstigation."

The UN reconnaissance survey, done on Friday by helicopter, has shown the eastern towns of Dilor and Los Palos 75 percent destroyed while Lore and Manatuto appeared completely levelled.

"Very, very few people were seen moving around in them," he said.

Indonesian authorities have agreed in talks with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to allow humanitarian groups into Indonesian West Timor where more than 150,000 internally displaced people are living in refugee centers which reports have likened to concentration camps.

"The extent of the discussions concerning the return of the displaced people is as yet unclear," Wimhurst said.

UN efforts to get emergency food supplies to tens of thousands of people still taking refuge in the mounainous regions around Dili is also continuing.

Six tonnes of high-protein biscuits were dropped by a Hercules transport aircraft over a 160 kilometer (100 mile) stretch near the town of Remexio on Friday, and another food drop was planned for Saturday.

In the meantime UN agencies have begun a detailed assessment of the total numbers of displaced people in need of emergency aid.

The troop buildup continued here Saturday with reinforcements arriving aboard the troop carrier HMAS Tobruk, to join more than 3,000 soldiers of the UN-backed international peacekeeping force already here.

Subject: SCMP: Passing of 'fascist' security bill will secure army role
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 12:40:30 -0400

South China Morning Post Thursday, September 23, 1999


Passing of 'fascist' security bill will secure army role


A controversial, military-sponsored security bill is expected to be become law today in one of the final acts of Indonesia's Suharto-era Parliament. The bill is sponsored by armed forces chief General Wiranto and his faction.

Despite growing opposition, it has reached the final plenary session, an indication of the military's firm intention to remain central to political life.

Yesterday, more than 1,500 protesters scuffled outside Parliament with police, who fired tear-gas and waded into the crowd. Dozens of protesters were injured and soldiers were called in.

"If Parliament passes this bill, our country will be fascist," one protester shouted to the crowd, made up mostly of students, some armed with iron bars and rattan sticks.

In Surabaya, police moved in to break up a protest by about 500 students, injuring 19 students. More protests are expected today.

If passed, the law would allow the military to impose emergency rule where it sees fit. It leaves unclear the issue of whether parliamentary approval would be needed.

Such emergency rule would allow for draconian search and seizure powers, curfews, media blackouts and arbitrary arrests.

The bill has provoked outrage among students, reformists and opposition politicians. But some deputies in Parliament appear ready to use their last 24 hours in office to garner either payments or other rewards from military sponsors.

Opposition factions say the bill would wipe out most of the civil liberties regained since the fall of former president Suharto.

"This bill was first drafted 10 years ago, so you can imagine how drastic and authoritarian it would be," said Fajrul Falaakh, a chairman of the Nadhlatul Ulama Muslim organisation.

The ability of the armed forces to bring the security bill so far forward sends a dark message about the state of the reform movement.

Any assertion of outright military rule would face strong opposition across the political spectrum, yet still the military must be accommodated.

"You need at least a working relationship with this military, whether you like it or not," a Western analyst said.

This prominence of the military in politics is heightened by the failure of the armed forces to prevent international peacekeepers in East Timor.

"You cannot force this military into a corner, it's too dangerous," the analyst said.

This fear, of an embattled and humiliated army lashing out, is growing, especially as the international community demands an accounting of the corpses in East Timor and the holding of trials of those Indonesian generals and militia leaders deemed responsible.

Regardless, or because of, the international condemnation of the military, it is clear the generals want to assert their perceived right to an important role in choosing a president and maintaining him or her in power. The security bill is one part of their insurance policy, designed to guard their pivotal place in defending national order and stability.

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