Subject: UN Accuses Indon of Obstructing E.Timor Rights Inquiry

Reuters, 1.27 a.m. ET (638 GMT) November 25, 1999

Indonesia Obstructing E.Timor Rights Inquiry-U.N.

DILI, East Timor — A U.N. human rights team to investigate atrocities in East Timor arrived in Dili on Thursday, and immediately accused Jakarta of deliberately hampering its work.

Sonia Picado, one of its five members, said Indonesia was responsible for its delayed arrival in the devastated territory by holding up approval of its mission at the U.N. in New York.

Picado, from Costa Rica, told reporters at the airport Indonesia had still not provided visas for its members to travel to Jakarta and West Timor to carry out investigations there.

Tens of thousands of East Timorese are living in squalid camps in West Timor, which is Indonesian sovereign territory.

"We were certainly ready to come earlier,'' Picado told reporters. "In many ways it was difficult to get the approval, yes, because the Indonesians felt it was more for their particular inquiry commission to do the job.''


Picado said Indonesia was stalling on approving visas for members of her team, required for investigations in Indonesia's West Timor and Jakarta. The team also includes members from Nigeria, India, Papua New Guinea and Germany.

"We expect to go to Jakarta but we still don't have a visa, so we don't know if the government is going to allow us in.''

The team was also assigned to visit West Timor where there had been reports of terror and intimidation against the refugees to prevent them from going back to their ravaged homeland.

Indonesia's military on Thursday rejected reports of intimidation in the camps saying that it was not based with ''the fact on the ground.''

The military also called East Timor's independence leader Xanana Gusmao and spiritual leader Bishop Carlos Belo to guarantee the safety and security of the East Timorese who want to return to their homeland.

Indonesia has rejected the team appointed by U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson and set up its own inquiry. That team said last week it planned to sub-poena high-ranking Indonesian generals over the bloodshed.

Belo has called for senior Indonesian military officials to face a war crimes tribunal for orchestrating the violence.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights agreed to set up an international commission of inquiry in September but it was only ratified by the U.N. earlier this month.

Belo has also condemned U.N. slowness over the inquiry, saying evidence had long gone, and accused the U.N. of delaying the investigation in a bid to maintain good relations with Jakarta.

The team's arrival comes more than two months after killings and other atrocities blamed on pro-Jakarta forces broke out after its August 30 vote for independence.

Picado said the team would like to visit refugee camps in West Timor and speak to members of Indonesia's own National Commission on Human Rights.


But she was non-committal as to whether it would recommend the establishment of a war crimes tribunal.

"We have all the possibilities to recommend whatever the commission of inquiry feels they have to recommend,'' said Picado. "I am not ruling it out, but it would be irresponsible for me to say.''

The members were appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson and they will present their findings to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan by the end of December.

The team will spend 12 days in the territory including a church in the southwestern town of Suai where leading pro-independence figures say hundreds were massacred. It will also visit Los Palos in the east, an area which the team feels has been neglected.

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