Subject: RT: UN denies E.Timor is ``the Titanic'' of lost causes
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 09:20:25 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

UN denies E.Timor is ``the Titanic'' of lost causes

- Marker calls on Indonesia to free resistance leader Xanana Gusmao

By Paul Tait

SYDNEY, July 2 (Reuters) - A senior U.N. official voiced confidence on Friday that East Timor's August vote on self-rule would not be derailed by violence.

Jamsheed Marker, the U.N. secretary-general's personal envoy to East Timor, also ruled out arming U.N. civilian police and military advisers in the troubled, Indonesian-ruled territory.

U.N. personnel had came under attack this week by pro-Jakarta militias opposed to East Timor gaining independence.

Marker, speaking in Australia, said he had been assured by Indonesian President B.J. Habibie and other officials that they would not allow events in the archipelago of 200 million people to overtake the ballot in the small territory it invaded in 1975.

``We've always had that in the back of our minds... after all, you're talking of half an island in an archipelago of 14,000 islands,'' Marker said when asked if violence and uncertainty across Indonesia might see the East Timor ballot abandoned.

``I'm not saying that sometimes in my worst nightmares I felt as though I was polishing the silver on the Titanic... but we don't anticipate that happening,'' he said.

Indonesia defied fears of widespread violence when it held its first democratic general election in four decades on June 7, but there is disquiet over the painfully slow vote count.

On Thursday, Jakarta police fired on protesters demanding the ruling Golkar party be disqualified from the count, injuring at least three people.

Marker arrived in Australia after talks with Habibie, armed forces chief General Wiranto and other senior officials as well as Jakarta loyalists and independence supporters in East Timor.

East Timor's autonomy ballot was originally set for August 8 but has been delayed for two weeks because of security concerns.

Violence has escalated in the territory since January when Indonesia said it would grant East Timor independence if voters there rejected an offer of greater autonomy.

At least 10 people, including a U.N. official, were hurt when a U.N. compound in Maliana near East Timor's border with West Timor was attacked on Tuesday by a rock-throwing crowd.

The United Nations later evacuated some staff from Viqueque, 90 km (55 miles) southeast of the East Timorese capital of Dili, after threats from loyalist militiamen.

Indonesia is responsible for security during the ballot.

Marker said he was optimistic the ballot would proceed and said the United Nations was not considering arming at least the 272 civilian police in its East Timor mission.

``At the moment there is no question of arming either our police or our military officers,'' he said.

Marker called on Indonesia to allow resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, under house arrest in Jakarta, to return to East Timor ahead of the ballot.

``He really is a force for reconciliation,'' Marker said, adding the United Nations had also spoken with Indonesia about allowing exiled independence activist Jose Ramos-Horta to return.

Back to July Menu
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu
June '98 through February '99