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EAST TIMOR - NZ govt inaction

Peace Movement Aotearoa

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

Issued 14 April 1999

From East Timor Independence Committee

14 April, 1999

MEDIA RELEASE: McKinnon's "wait and see approach" on East Timor is condemned

The East Timor Independence Committee believes that Foreign Affairs Minister Mr McKinnon, is grossly misrepresenting the situation in East Timor and that his "let's wait and see what happens" attitude will contribute to the deteriorating situation and the grave risks faced by the East Timorese people. New Zealand should act now to ensure that an international peacekeeping force is sent in.

"In his broadcast comments Mr McKinnon makes it clear that he believes that current violence is caused by internal conflict between pro and anti independence groups. I have just visited East Timor and am convinced - as are all the journalists who have been there in the last weeks- that the violence is coming solely from the paramilitary groups who admit that they have been created, paid and armed by the Indonesian military, said Maire Leadbeater for the East Timor Independence Committee."

"These thugs have killed and injured unarmed and defenceless villagers - including women and children - with unparalleled brutality. I saw several of the shockingly wounded survivors of the Liquica massacre - one was a young women with a baby. Eyewitnesses - whom I met - said that there were so many dead that they were taken away in two military trucks, probably to be buried in a mass grave. In the capital Dili - those who fled the violence are under threat as are those who have given them refuge."

"Former Governor of East Timor, Mario Carrascalao states that not only are the paramilitary armed and equipped by the Indonesian military but also that many have been imported across the border from West Timor."

"How can Mr McKinnon blithely go on talking about the United Nations vote - the East Timorese cannot prepare for elections while they are living under a campaign of terror."

"New Zealand has played 'wait and see' for far too long. It is not a case of acting unilaterally but we must take immediate action to prompt the United Nations to begin organising a peacekeeping force. We have a window of opportunity to prevent a further slide towards a bloodbath."

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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