|KENNEDY, ADVOCATE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM IN EAST TIMOR, OUTRAGED AT RECENT
Monday April 19, 1999
WASHINGTON-Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) said today that he is "outraged at the recent violent attacks" in East Timor.
"The recent violence over the past weekend in East Timor presses us to investigate and end the arming of paramilitary units," said Kennedy.
Some 1,500 pro-Indonesian armed militia gathered in Dili on Saturday for a show of force against the pro-independence movement in the former Portuguese colony. Reports state that Indonesian security forces and troops made no attempt to stop the violence.
On Saturday, there was an attack by Indonesian-supported paramilitary units in East Timor, in the Capital of Dili on the property of the reconciliation leader Manuel Carrascalao. The attackers fired guns and threw stones and rocks into his house, smashing the windows. Thirteen persons were killed, including Carrascalao's son. Of the more than one hundred refugees on the property, many were injured. Kennedy met with Carrascalao's brother, resistance leader Joao Carrascalao, when he visited the United States in 1997.
Kennedy has written letters to President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to urge the U.S. to be more proactive in its dealing with the Indonesian government, and push harder for lasting peace and freedom for the East Timorese.
Most recently, Kennedy joined with Senator Russ Feingold in leading twenty six other Senators and Representatives in a letter to Secretary Albright on the need to disarm and disband the paramilitaries. The letter also stressed the need to allow international monitors, whose presence will help alleviate tensions, into East Timor.
"The U.S. can and must use its influence to help bring about an end to this horrible and escalating violence, by insisting that the Indonesian government shut down the paramilitaries and end their actions immediately," Kennedy wrote in the letter to Albright.