The Guardian April 7, 1999


East Timor:
Call to disarm militias

In a satellite interview on March 27, Xanana Gusmao, East Timor's 
independence leader, called on the Australian Government to take action to 
ensure that the pro-Indonesian militias are disarmed to prevent further 
loss of life in his country.

"Given recent events in East Timor, this is a request that should be taken 
seriously by Australia and other western governments if they do not wish to 
be branded as hypocritical", said Andy Alcock, Information Officer of the 
Campaign for an Independent East Timor (South Australia).

Since the fall of Suharto, the Indonesian regime has been continually 
increasing its troops numbers and is frantically arming the pro-Indonesian 
militia groupings that are still causing terror and committing crimes 
against humanity in Timor.

Thousands of Indonesian special forces soldiers have been flooding across 
East Timor's western border in recent months, according to reports in 
The Age.

The paper's sources include both Australian intelligence and witnesses in 
East Timor.

Many of the troops seen crossing into East Timor have been heavily armed. 
Most have returned to West Timor without weapons.

"It is obvious that the Indonesian leadership is attempting to subvert the 
will of the East Timorese as they prepare to make a decision about their 
nation's future", said Mr Alcock.

"It is, therefore, highly inappropriate and callously criminal of 
Australia, other western governments and the UN to expect that the 
Indonesian regime which has caused many human rights abuses in East Timor 
should be left with the responsibility for keeping the peace and providing 
humanitarian aid to the tiny nation's suffering people.

"It should be remembered that western aid personnel reported many years ago 
that the major thrust of Indonesian health [programs] appeared to be 
sterilisation of East Timorese women without their knowledge. Further, many 
East Timorese women have reported that their healthy new born babies have 
died under mysterious circumstances in Indonesian hospitals in East Timor.

"Trusting Indonesia with a humanitarian role in East Timor is akin to 
putting trust in Nazi Germany during World War II to provide health and 
welfare programs to those peoples and groups that it liquidated."

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, said Mr Alcock, must explain why 
Australian Governments, including the Howard administration, have aided and 
abetted the indonesian regime militarily for 24 years.

Indonesia has been responsible for genocide in both West Papua and East 
Timor which has seen approximately a third of the population in each 
country being wiped out during that time.

Australia has resumed training programs for the indonesian military.

"This explains why the Howard Government has not been actively promoting 
peace keeping in East Timor and encouraging the Indonesian military to 
continue its murderous presence", said Mr Alcock.

The East Timorese are calling for a halt to the western military 
cooperation with Indonesia and for effective peace keeping and humanitarian 
aid programs to be provided to prevent further slaughter.

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