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Action Alert - Civil war in East Timor?

Peace Movement Aotearoa

PO Box 9314, Wellington. Tel (04) 382 8129, fax (04) 382 8173,

Issued 10 February 1999

MEDIA RELEASE: Civil war in East Timor? New Zealand must help now. Civil war is imminent in East Timor due to the actions of armed civilian militia, and East Timor's Bishop Belo has just issued an urgent call for UN help.

Mr Downer, Australia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, has just announced that he has had talks with the UN and with European governments about the need for a peacekeeping force to go to East Timor. The East Timor Independence Committee urges the Minister of Foreign Affairs to join up with Australia and work to spearhead an international peacekeeping force to go to East Timor, immediately.

"This is a moment for decisive action from New Zealand," said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the East Timor Independence Committee. "A return to the killing fields cannot be allowed to happen - we must plan now to send our own experienced peacekeeping troops and work with Australia and the UN to get other countries on board."

"The latest news - announced yesterday by East Timor's military Commander Suratman- is that a further 1,000 militia are going to be recruited, to add to the thousands already spreading terror among the East Timorese population. There is a huge refugee problem now as up to 6,000 people have fled from villages to towns after militia attacks."

"The leader of a civilian militia, Cancia Lopes de Carvalho, has taken responsibility for the recent deaths of at least 6 people, one a pregnant woman. He openly announced that the weapons and training were given to his group by the Indonesian military, and even said that in "East Timor the law of the jungle prevails."

" East Timorese leader, Jose Ramos Horta, has already asked New Zealand to help - we should respond without further delay."

For further information: Maire Leadbeater - 09-849-3890
Maire Leadbeater,
East Timor Independence Committee,
P.O. Box 68-419,
New Zealand.

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