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International Concern Growing About Violence in East Timor
1 September 1999
Forwarded from Corso ...
Corso's National Co-ordinator, Suzanne Menzies-Culling today appealed to the New Zealand Government to urge the UN to take a firmer stand with the Indonesian Government as violence continues to escalate in East Timor.
We are receiving information from the International Federation for East Timor Observer Project (IFET-OP) that since the ballot on Monday, East Timorese workers for the UN especially are being targetted and murdered by the Indonesian sponsored militias.
"Monday's balloting that was largely free of violence and intimidation is seen more as an exception, than the rule and we do not expect it is a sign of things to come, " Ms Menzies-Culling said today. "And the fact that nearly all registered voters cast their ballots as a tribute to their determination to transcend the climate of terror."
IFET-OP has informed us that yesterday 151 UNAMET staff and other international observers including seven from IFET-OP, were held hostage for several hours by the militias. After the wave of killings late last week, strong reaction from the international community stemmed the tide of violence to make Monday's balloting possible. IFET-OP is concerned that this pressure will wane as visiting ambassadors, parliamentarians, observers and journalists leave East Timor.
"IFET observers (including two NZers) will remain in East Timor for a few more weeks, but our international volunteers cannot sustain a permanent presence here," an IFET spokesperson said from Dili yesterday Although UNAMET will maintain and expand its presence in East Timor over the next few weeks, their unarmed presence has already proven inadequate to prevent violence in East Timor, or even protect their own staff.
If the peace continues to deteriorate, it will be the result of the short attention span of the international community and its failure to confront Indonesia's illegal military presence in East Timor.
"The international community can prevent further bloodshed by expanding UNAMET's mandate and giving the East Timorese people the security they deserve," Suzanne Menzies-Culling said.
For further information:
Suzanne Menzies-Culling (03) 477 3395.