|Subject: ABC: UN and Aust won't be intimidated by
Timor thugs: Downer
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:46:28 -0400
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <email@example.com>
ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio News
UN and Aust won't be intimidated by Timor thugs: Downer
Mon, 5 Jul 1999
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, says recent attacks on United Nations personnel in East Timor must not be allowed to derail the process for a vote on the territory's future.
Australian civilian police in East Timor came under fire from pro-Jakarta militia as they were trying to rescue members of a humanitarian aid convoy yesterday.
Officials say a UN helicopter was also pelted with stones by militia as it attempted to land in the town of Liquisa to evacuate staff, forcing it to move to another landing zone.
Mr Downer says the United Nations and Australia will not be bullied into abandoning East Timor's vote for independence or autonomy, due to be held next month.
"This is a window of opportunity and it absolutely has to be taken," Mr Downer said.
"So it is important to transmit this message that we won't be intimidated by hoodlums and thugs with a lot of rocks and homemade weapons.
"We will not be intimidated by those people.
"If the ballot were abandoned that would be to give in to these thugs and I don't think it makes sense to give in to thugs."
Mr Downer will meet the United Nations' special envoy for East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, tonight to discuss increasing violence in the territory.
Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations mission in East Timor has labelled the lack of action by Indonesian police in the town of Liquisa as inexcusable.
An aid convoy returning from assisting refugees in East Timor's western regions was attacked when it stopped in Liquisa yesterday.
UN vehicles travelling with the convoy were singled out during the attack but UNAMET chief Ian Martin says Indonesian police in the town have long been aware of threats against UN staff.
"It's certainly an inexcusable lack of action because the situation in Liquisa has been of great concern to us from the time we first started visiting there and establishing a presence there," he said.
"It was repeatedly reported to the police - the fightings of armed militia around Liquisa town, as well as the specific menaces to our own personnel," Mr Martin said.
Indonesian authorities in East Timor have accused the United Nations of going beyond its mandate by being involved the humanitarian aid convoy which was attacked.
The head of Indonesia's taskforce in the province, Ambassador Agus Tarmidzi, says aid distribution is not the job of UNAMET - the body operating in East Timor.
© 1999 Australian Broadcasting Corporation