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East Timor - Update

5 July 1999

New media release, forwarded on behalf of East Timor Independence Committee

MEDIA RELEASE: Call for strong response to attack on UN convoy in East Timor - Mr McKinnon should call in the Indonesian Ambassador

Yesterday , July 4, 1999, the militia in Liquica district, Besi Merah Putih (BMP) attacked a convoy of humanitarian workers returning to Dili after having delivered food and medicine to a refugee camp. New Zealand police have had to be evacuated from Liquica. The Minister of Foreign Affairs should call the Indonesian Ambassador in to his office to account for this outrage and for the clear failure of the Indonesian authorities to honour their pledges to the United Nations.

"There can be no denying that Indonesia is blatantly flouting the commitments it made to the UN that it would provide a security for the coming ballot. The evidence is overwhelming that the Indonesian security forces are turning a blind eye, and some instances actively supporting the militia gangs. It is time that New Zealand carpeted the Indonesian Ambassador to ensure that New Zealand's condemnation has some teeth," said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the East Timor Independence Committee.

"Last week when the UN base was attacked at Maliana, Mr McKinnon could only manage a mild statement deploring the violence and "hoping" for improvements. New Zealand was far too polite - in direct contrast to strong statements from the United Nations and from the US State Department."

New Zealand owes it to the East Timorese people to ensure that Indonesia reigns in the murderous militia gangs. It is absolutely outrageous that the same gang (BMP or "Red and White Iron") responsible for a terrible massacre in Liquica in April (62 deaths) is still at large, terrorising and intimidating the East Timorese people and international workers alike."

"This humanitarian mission was brutally attacked despite having coordinated all its plans with the Dili administration and with Indonesian security forces. At least one mission member was shot and hospitalised after the gang fired on the team and threw stones and machetes. Others may be missing."

"New Zealand is a donor nation to the UN Mission as it has backed the UN Mission with financial aid and with personnel. Now is the time to act to ensure that the UN can succeed in its task of ensuring a free and fair vote in East Timor at the end of August."

For further information; Maire Leadbeater -09-8493890 - messages cleared regularly.

Maire Leadbeater,
East Timor Independence Committee,
P.O. Box 68-419,
New Zealand.

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