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16 September 1999 Edition

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UN knew of Indonesia's murderous intent

BY SOLEDAD GALIANO

     
  Weeks ago, Tom Hyland, the spokesperson for the East Timor Solidarity Ireland group, highlighted the willingness of the UN to turn a blind eye to the actions of the pro-Indonesian militia against the civil population. Koffi Annan, the president of the United Nations, decided to ignore such warnings  
ARC statement


Nearly two months ago, on 20 July, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed the existence of a secret Indonesian government document relating to East Timor signed by the Assistant Coordinating Minister, H.F. Garnadi, and addressed to the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security, General Feisal Tandjung. The document urged the central government in Jakarta to outline a plan in response to a possible victory by the pro-independence movement in the UN-administered referendum in East Timor.

Garnadi, who was appointed by Indonesian President Habibi as a member of the Political and Security Team in the military task force in East Timor, proposed to develop a contingency plan to evacuate Indonesian civil servants, Indonesian military personnel, and pro-Indonesian East Timorese to Indonesia. He pointed out that the government might wish to ``destroy vital facilities and objects''. He also noted that the pro-Indonesia militias might wage a war on independent East Timor.

At the time, the Indonesian government denied that this document was authentic. Today, it is clear the plan existed and is being carried out with total precision. Two weeks ago, Indonesian army radio traffic revealed the decision by the military to burn the East Timor capital Dili to the ground. For years, the Indonesian-orchestrated campaign of terror against the civilian East Timorese population had been denounced by human rights activists and local and religious authorities in the island. But once more, as happened previously in the cases of Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosova, the United Nations took the decision to ignore it.

Weeks ago, Tom Hyland, the spokesperson for the East Timor Solidarity Ireland group, highlighted the willingness of the UN to turn a blind eye to the actions of the pro-Indonesian militia against the civil population. He told An Phoblacht that violence could be expected after the referendum and that the absence of a UN peacekeeping force would expose the population of East Timor to attack by the pro-Indonesian militia and the Indonesian army. Koffi Annan, the president of the United Nations, decided to ignore such warnings, however.

Now that the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force has been decided, the world will be listening to the representatives of Britain and the US praising the goodwill of the Indonesian government, a government that is responsible for this century's latest genocide. And Koffi Annan may hail that force as a success for the United Nations. Clearly, he is not ready to accept his culpability for East Timor's suffering.

While the big boys in their grey suits were playing politics in New York, hundred of thousands of civilians have been starving and freezing to death in the towns and hills of East Timor, while others are being slaughtered by militia and army.

     
  Now that the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force has been decided, the world will be listening to the representatives of Britain and the US praising the goodwill of the Indonesian government, a government that is responsible for this century's latest genocide  
ARC statement

The leader of Falintil, East Timor's pro-independence guerrilla force, has warned of a massive humanitarian disaster involving tens of thousands of displaced and starving people who are also facing attack by Indonesian soldiers and militia. The Falintil commander, Tuar Matan Ruak, said that there are more that 100,000 refugees in desperate conditions in the mountain regions in the eastern part of East Timor.

Ruak explained that the situation was such that Falintil fighters were forced to plunder for food and as result had confronted Indonesian troops: ``There has been one minor engagement on 8 September between Falintil and Indonesian forces at Lalea, in the mountains. Our forces were seeking food and we captured 20 weapons.''

Commander Ruak informed that in other outlying areas of East Timor, refugees are seriously ill and surrounded by soldiers and militia. Ruak blamed Indonesian military for the torching of district centers. ``In the small villages, the fires are the same as Dili or even worse -total chaos. The population has no help, no protection, no food, no water and no medicine.''

In the capital, Dili, piles of bodies were burnt on the streets at the weekend and tens of thousands of refugees fled from the militias and the Indonesian army. It was reported that the militia is also targeting nuns and priest.

Dr Andrew McNaughton, spokesperson for the Darwin-based East Timorese International Support Centre, is afraid that the East Timoreses are confronting ``a final solution''. He also doubted that the UN peacekeeping force will arrived on time to save thousands from dying of thirst and starvation.

Meanwhile, in the refugees camps in West Timor, a massive human disaster is feared. Reports estimate that more than 200,000 people have been forcely displaced to West Timor and these people are facing starvation and disease in the camps, which are accessible to members of the militia, who are targeting young people and pro-independence supporters.

Arsinio Ramos-Horta, brother of Nobel laureate José Ramos-Horta, says he heard direct reports from people who described how boats are leaving the port of Kupang in West Timor, laden with refugees. ``Indonesians, disguised with UNAMET uniforms, are trying to convince people to board these ships that will take them to Australia. The ships will come back empty two hours later. We presume that those people are thrown to the sea''.

It seems that by the time the UN peacekeeping force arrives in East Timor, reports of disappeared people and mass graves will return to the front pages of the world's newspapers, as happened in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

The history of the UN's involvement in East Timor is one of craven subservience to the political and military powers that form the Security Council, powerful states that care little or nothing for the welfare of powerless civilians in East Timor or anywhere else.

Adams lobbies for East Timorese


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has this week contacted both Bill Clinton and Tony Blair to highlight the widespread concerns of the Irish people regarding the ongoing genocide in East Timor.

``The announcement that a UN peace keeping force is to be sent into East Timor has been welcomed with caution,'' he wrote, ``however there is a lot of anger and frustration, that in the days following the referendum, the international community failed to live up to its responsibilities and publicly given commitments to defend the result. This failure to act has resulted in the deaths of thousands of East Timorese in a genocide which is still continuing today.''

Adams called for the UN peace keeping force to be deployed immediately to help protect the lives and independence of the people of East Timor, adding that a delay, even of a few days, could have dire consequences. He asked both leaders to use their influence to ensure that the East Timorese ``are assisted without further delay''.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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