Subject: UN human rights chief calls for E Timor war crimes tribunal
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 21:38:46 EDT

UN human rights chief calls for East Timor war crimes tribunal

DARWIN, Australia, Sept 12 (AFP) - UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson called here Sunday for a war crimes tribunal to probe alleged rights violations against the people of East Timor by Indonesia.

Asked if she meant a tribunal to bring to justice those deemed responsible, she said: "Yes, an international tribunal."

"I am here to emphasise that this is the gravest situation of human rights violations, that the poor people of East Timor are not forgotten," the former Irish president told reporters after landing here early Sunday on her way to the devastated East Timorese capital of Dili for a brief visit.

"There must be accountability for this level of savage terrorising of the people. I think that is the main message that I want to get across -- taking stock of the human rights violations and working towards accountability and no impunity."

She was taken by UN officials to meet some of the East Timorese UN workers who were evacuated from Dili to Darwin on Friday to hear first-hand accounts of atrocities in East Timor, including mass executions.

Robinson was expected to fly on from Dili directly to Jakarta for talks with Indonesian human rights representatives and possibly with Indonesian authorities.

US President Bill Clinton Sunday stepped up the pressure on Indonesian military leaders to accept international peacekeepers in a strong attack on them for allowing militiamen "to murder innocent people" in the territory.

"It is clear the Indonesian military has aided and abetted militia violence in East Timor in violation of a commitment its leaders made to the international community," Clinton said in Auckland, New Zealand, where he is attending a regional economic forum.

"This has allowed the militias to murder innocent people, to send thousands fleeing for their lives and to attack the United Nations compound."

He reiterated demands Indonesia allow an international peacekeeping force.

Indonesia was also warned in an open UN Security Council debate Saturday that the savagery of its armed forces in East Timor could destroy its new-found respect as an emerging democracy.

Most speakers contrasted the government's decision to allow the UN to hold a ballot on self-determination in East Timor with the brutality of Indonesian army-backed militias which have tried to overturn the result.

In one of the strongest speeches, US ambassador Richard Holbrooke mentioned atrocities in the same breath as the name of the Indonesian military chief, General Wiranto.

"There are clear indications that the troops under the leadership and command of General Wiranto have backed, encouraged, directed, perhaps in many cases participated in the atrocities on the ground," Holbrooke said.

"How can the people of East Timor, the UN and the international community entrust security to these very same soldiers under the same leadership?"

East Timorese independence campaigner Jose Ramos-Horta Sunday alleged women in East Timor were committing suicide to avoid being raped and killed by Indonesian army forces.

"I was told that every village in the country has been razed to the ground and people are shot at," the Nobel laureate told Australia's Nine television network.

"Women, many women, are already committing suicide. They prefer to commit suicide rather than fall in the hands of the special forces who rape them in front of their husbands and then shoot them."

Ramos Horta said resistance leaders had told him they remained under orders from Xanana Gusmao, head of the National Timorese Resistance Council, not to fight back.

But Gusmao's Falintil guerrillas had told him the situation was now desperate, with food supplies all but finished.

"So they are appealing for airlifts from Australia of basic foodstuff for the people," he said. "They say, wherever they drop the food supplies by parachute it will benefit the people."

Gusmao was released from Indonesian detention last week following the August 30 UN-administered ballot in which the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence. Gusmao is widley tipped as the first leader of an independent East Timor.

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