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Violence in East Timor.

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18 April 1999


Violence in East Timor


I am deeply concerned about the pro-integration militia attacks in Dili on 17 April.


Violence began after a pro-integration rally at which militia le aders reportedly called on their supporters to kill their opponents. Reports of the number of deaths range from at least 12 to around 30. There are also reports of many injuries and destruction of property.


The Indonesian Government and Armed Forces are responsible for law and order and for protecting the people of East Timor. They have clearly failed to do so at Liquica and now in Dili. The Government of Indonesia and its Armed Forces must act decisively to stop the violence. It is imperative that the Armed Forces begin the process of disarming the militias and that those responsible for the violence and killings be brought to account.


Our Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr John McCarthy, has spoken to Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and Presidential adviser Dewi Fortuna Anwar about this incident urging that action be taken now to end the violence and emphasising the serious damage being done to Indonesia’s international reputation. Other Embassy officers have spoken to senior political and military figures in Jakarta and Dili making the same points. The Embassy also spoke to Bishop Belo and a range of non-government figures.


Embassy staff had earlier contacted military officials in Dili and urged them to prevent such violence, and we continue to press the authorities to restore order and to protect the people of East Timor.


The process currently underway in the UN is a key element to the resolution of the East Timor issue. It is essential that this process continues.


The people of East Timor must be allowed to decide their future free from violence and intimidation.


Media contacts: (Ministerial) Innes Willox, 0419 206 89

(Departmental) Tony Melville, 02-6261 1555