Subject: Urgent International Action Needed to Save Lives in East Timor
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 09:25:16 -0400
From: East Timor Relief Association <>

East Timor Relief Association Inc. (ETRA) P.O. Box 23, Fairfield NSW 2165 Australia ph: 61 2 9 891 5861; fax: 61 2 9 891 2876

17 April 1999

Urgent International Action Needed to Save Lives in East Timor

The East Timor Relief Association calls on the international community and the Australian Government to take urgent action to help end the escalating state-sponsored violence in East Timor.

"It's time for the Australian Government to shift from a wait-and-see approach to a more pro-active role to promote real peace in East Timor for the planned UN ballot in July," says Ms Ines Almeida, the National Secretary of East Timor Relief Association (ETRA).

Ms Almeida praises the timely arrival today in Dili of Ireland's Foreign Minister David Andrews.

"This timely visit of Foreign Minister Andrews undoubtedly provides much needed strong moral and political support to the people of East Timor currently under siege by ABRI and its militia groups," said Ms Almeida.

"This action by a Foreign Minister from Europe exposes the weakness of the stand of the Australian Government," said Ms Almeida.

Ms Almeida called on Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to immediately follow Mr Andrew's example, and travel to Dili next week.

"It is only by such direct action that the Australian Government can demonstrate its commitment to peace in East Timor. The future of East Timor must be taken out of the hands of the Indonesian military. By travelling to Dili immediately Mr Downer would send a strong signal to the military leaders who openly flout the UN and the rule of law. "

Ms Almeida welcomed the strong statement by the European Union this week, deploring the rise of violence in East Timor and calling on the Indonesian Government to disarm and control the militias. She also welcomed US Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific Mr Stanley Roth's visit this week to Jakarta and in particular to CNRT’s President Xanana Gusmao.

"Mr Roth's visit and the European Union statement highlight international concern about the ABRI-backed violence in East Timor. The President of National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) Xanana Gusmao has reiterated that his earlier statement was merely a call for the people of East Timor to act in self defence, to stop being slaughtered like cattle. It was the Indonesian media who shamelessly manipulated this statement to present it as a call to war. Xanana followed his meeting with Mr Roth by asking FALINTIL to once again cease active operations."

Ms Almeida reiterated ETRA's unequivocal support for CNRT’s Xanana Gusmao and his unswerving efforts to instigate dialogue and peace in East Timor.

"In the past 11 months since the fall of Suharto, Xanana Gusmao has met constantly with the emissaries of world leaders. Without exception they have praised his commitment to peace, his moderateness and his intelligence. This has not changed. Xanana Gusmao remains the vital leader for peace in East Timor."

Ms Almeida said that ETRA sees a number of key actions as necessary to establish peace in East Timor to allow the UN-ballot to go ahead as planned in July:

· The Indonesian government to instruct ABRI East Timor Commander Tono Suratman to immediately disarm the militias, and to order the ABRI regular forces to immediately cease their direct role in perpetrating violence in East Timor;

· All members of ABRI and their militia groups involved in murder and other human rights violations to be brought to justice;

· The Indonesian government to cease blocking international non-government and human rights organisations from access to East Timor, and these organisations to send human rights monitors into East Timor with full access to all areas of the country, with a mandate to investigate and report human rights abuses;

· Guaranteed protection of international media from ABRI and its militia groups;

· The UN to immediately send its mission of observers into East Timor;

By travelling into East Timor next week Mr Downer would signal the Australian Government's real commitment to this process," said Ms Almeida.

There will be a national protest at Canberra on Monday 19 April. Meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs Offices in Canberra at 11am to begin a march to the Indonesian Embassy at 12 midday. This will commence rolling action across Australia until peace is established in East Timor. Matebian News

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