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East Timor group condemns Don McKinnon

30 June, 1999

MEDIA RELEASE: Don McKinnon soft pedals his criticism of attack on UN post in East Timor - peacekeeping troops needed.

The weak response of Foreign Minister Don McKinnon to yesterday's attack on the United Nations post in Maliana, is condemned by the East Timor Independence Committee. Mr McKinnon merely "deplored" the unprovoked assault by 100 militia on the UN Centre in which 12 people were injured. The violence has been strongly defended by militia leader and "civil defence" head, Eurico Guterres.

"Mr McKinnon has failed to stress that the responsibility for this outrage rests squarely with the Indonesian government and military who are unwilling to allow a free and fair ballot to take place," said Maire Leadbeater speaking for the East Timor Independence Committee. "Indonesia has allowed the militia a free hand and even given their leaders responsibility for local law and order. Now these militia thugs, like modern day Nazis, are showing their total contempt for the United Nations and for the terms of the UN pact agreed to in May."

"Our own police are part of the unarmed UN force in East Timor, yet Mr McKinnon is doing nothing to stand up for them and the rest of the UN team. The United States and the UN have both taken Indonesia to task, demanded that the militia be restrained and the perpetrators punished, but Mr McKinnon just "hopes" Indonesia will behave."

"New Zealand must do more to show that it rejects wanton endangering of the lives of UN personnel and local East Timorese employees."

"It is time to end this cruel joke that the Indonesian police and military can provide security in East Timor. New Zealand should take a lead in calling on Indonesia to accept an armed UN peacekeeping force."

The town of Maliana, controlled by Indonesian special forces and locally armed militias thugs, has seen widespread killings and human rights abuses since early this year. Hundreds of people have died at the hands of militias gangs and Indonesian forces with up to 50,000 East Timorese herded into 're-education camps'. Because of the refusal of the Indonesian military to allow the United Nations or the ICRC access to these camps, many detainees have died.

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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