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Australia must act now to ensure East Timor does not explode into mass violence

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8 -APR. 1999 13:53 HON KIM Î’ Ε Α ζύ ί n m m 1 ° £ 1

NO.465 P.8/8

MEDIA Release

Hon. Warren Snowdon M.P.; AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY ' Member for the Northern Territory

8 April 1999

Australia must act now to ensure East Timor does not explode into mass violence

Member for the Northern Territory, Warren Snowdon, said today the latest reports of up to 50 East Timorese civilians killed in a church at the hands o f pro-integrationist militia showed the province was ready to explode into violence.

“With the killings in the village o f Liquica, the situation has suddenly deteriorated to one where immediate action is imperative,” Mr Snowdon said.

“The armed militia appear bent on provoking the situation to the point where they can justify open hostilities.

“If they are successful in this, and open hostilities are allowed to break out, then many thousands of innocent people could well join the death toll.

“Foreign Minister Downer cannot continue to dance around the issue,

“He must act today to apply pressure on the Indonesian Government to immediately disarm the militia and ensure the Indonesian military does not continue to involve itself,

“The Prime Minister and Mr Downer must grasp the gravity of the situation and they must do it now.

“Australia has a responsibility to do all it can to ensure the violence does not escalate in East Timor.

“There have been too many deaths and too much suffering in East Timor over the past 25 years.

“Australia cannot continue to stand by and watch a situation that is clearly deteriorating by the day,

“The Government must apply immediate pressure on Indonesia to accept a United Nations peacekeeping presence in East Timor.

“As I have said before, the Northern Territory has the capacity to be centrally involved in alleviating the situation in East Timor.

“However, I am disturbed to hear that the Northern Territory Government continues to dismiss the offers of aid by NGOs which are ready and willing to provide aid,” Mr Snowdon said.


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