|Subject: AFP: Red Cross says threats stopped them
helping Liquisa victims
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:48:26 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo:
Red Cross says threats stopped them helping Liquisa victims
JAKARTA, April 9 (AFP) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said here Friday threats to their security had prevented them from helping the victims of the Liquisa massacre in East Timor.
In an ICRC statement issued here, the body said it was prepared to return to Liquisa to assess humanitarian needs in the area only if the security of its staff was guaranteed.
The ICRC had earlier been invited to investigate Tuesday's incident by the Indonesian Defence Ministry.
"Even though the ICRC is not an investigation body, it will try to accede the area in order to assess the humanitarian needs if the necessary security for its personnel can be guaranteed," the statement said.
The statement also revealed the ICRC had warned authorities in Dili of a "potential explosive situation" in Liquisa on Monday, the day before the massacre.
Referring to Tuesday's massacre, in which the military says only five were killed but rights bodies say anywhere between 22 and 52 East Timorese refugees were killed in a church compound, the statement said joint ICRC-Indonesian Red Cross teams had been in the Liquisa area at the time.
On Monday the ICRC teams had been assisting "internally displaced persons .... fleeing violence in the area", when they too had to evacuate as heavy shooting broke out.
That afternoon the situation in Liquisa was tense, with the streets deserted and "a large number of people" taking refuge in a church, it said, adding that the ICRC delegate had informed authorities in Dili of the "potential explosive situation."
An attempt by the ICRC to reach Liquisa on Tuesday was thwarted by the "tense situation and the hostile environment", as reports started to emerge of "a number of persons killed and wounded in incidents including the church", the statement said.
In a third attempt to reach Liquisa on Wednesday, the ICRC delegate was able to meet the local police commander, but was unable to do anything more because of "security threats", it said.
A Red Cross ambulance was forced to return to the main city of Dili without being able to evacuate any of the seriously wounded, 20 of whom managed to make it to Dili on their own, it said.
The statement did not specify the nature of the threats, or who had made them, but it said the ICRC was "extremely worried about the reports on the high number of victims, killed or wounded, many displaced persons and families without news of their next of kin."