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Contact: John M. Miller (718)596-7668

East Timor Action Network Condemns Latest Killings Calls for U.S., U.N. Action to Disarm Paramilitaries

April 17 - The East Timor Action Network/U.S. today expressed outrage at the brutal attacks by the Indonesian-armed and created paramilitaries in Dili, the capital of East Timor. ETAN urged the U.S. government and the United Nations exert maximum pressure on the Indonesian government and military (ABRI) to disarm and disband the militias.

"Indonesia must allow the immediate deployment of U.N. personnel to protect human rights and monitor Indonesian troop withdrawals and the disbanding of the militias," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for the network.

ETAN is planning demonstrations next week at Indonesian diplomatic offices in Washington, DC, New York and Chicago to protest the killings.

On Saturday, more than 1500 armed pro-Indonesian paramilitary members took control of the streets of Dili. At least 13 are reported killed and the death toll is expected to climb as Indonesian police and troops allow the rampage to continue. Hospitals and clinics are filled with wounded; photographers have been threatened and foreign journalists attacked.

The paramilitary soldiers organized and armed by the Indonesian military began their assault on the people of Dili with a rally attended by the Indonesian-appointed governor of East Timor. The military and police have stood by refusing to halt the violence, instead providing water and cigarettes to the paramilitaries, according to accounts received by ETAN.

Last week a coalition of paramilitary groups threatened to "wipe out" all those who supported independence for the former Portuguese colony or refused to fly the red and white Indonesian flag.

"Red and white now mean blood and bandages to the East Timorese," said Miller.

"This terror campaign is clearly designed to derail any prospect of a UN organized vote by the East Timorese on their political future," added Miller.

At least 275 people have appeared on a death list distributed early last week by the paramilitary groups. On the list are civil servants, members of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, and advocates of reconciliation. Militias have also threatened Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize. Several homes of people on the hit list have been attacked or burned down.

The ABRI-supported paramilitary rampage may have only just begun. Militia leaders have threatened to continue their "cleanup operation" into next week when U.N.-mediated talks on East Timor are scheduled to resume.

The paramilitary groups have been recruited, armed and trained by ABRI in an attempt to sabotage the UN ballot planned for July, in which the East Timorese may vote for or against an Indonesian government "autonomy" proposal.

The attack on Dili is the latest in a series of assaults by the paramilitaries. On April 5, at least 25 people seeking refuge from previous attacks were killed at a church in Liquica in a joint operation between a paramilitary group and ABRI. Since then there have been daily killings by paramilitary groups.

"The U.S. State Department has urged the Indonesian government 'to bring the pro-integration militia groups under control,' but stronger pressure is really needed," said Miller.

ETAN can arrange interviews with East Timorese leaders and other experts on East Timor. Contact: John M. Miller (718)596-7668

The East Timor Action Network/U.S. supports genuine self-determination and human rights for the people of East Timor and democracy in Indonesia.

On December 7, 1975, the Indonesian military brutally invaded East Timor. The following July, East Timor was illegally "integrated" into Indonesia as its "27th province." The UN and most of the world's countries do not recognize this, and the East Timorese reject it. According to human rights groups and the Catholic Church more than 200,000 people -- one-third of the pre-invasion population ­ have been killed by the Indonesian occupation forces. END