Stressing the need for all sides to put an end to all kinds of violence and to exercise utmost restraint, the Security Council this afternoon expressed grave concern at the 29 June attack on the Maliana office of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).
In a statement read out by its President, Baboucarr-Blaise Ismaila Jagne (Gambia), the Council noted with understanding the Secretary-General's decision to postpone for three weeks his determination of whether the necessary security situation existed to begin the operational phases of the consultation process in East Timor, and it endorsed the Secretary-General's intention that the operational phases not begin until UNAMET was fully deployed. It also endorsed the decision to postpone the ballot date for two weeks beyond the originally planned 8 August date, emphasizing the historic opportunity to resolve the question of East Timor peacefully through the consultations in a process that must be transparent, and in which all parties had the opportunity for free expression.
The Council was especially concerned that militias and other armed groups had carried out acts of violence and had exercised an intimidating influence over the local population, constricting political freedom in East Timor and jeopardizing the necessary openness of the consultation process. The Council noted the Secretary-General's assessment that, while the security situation had limited public expression by pro-independence activists, pro- autonomy campaigning had been actively pursued.
The Council called on UNAMET to follow up reports of violent activity and demanded that the 29 June attack on the UNAMET office be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. While welcoming the positive developments identified by the Secretary-General, such as the excellent channels of communication between UNAMET and the Indonesian authorities, the Council stressed again the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia for maintaining peace and security in East Timor.
The Council expressed particular concern at the situation of internally displaced persons in East Timor and the possible implications of that for the universality of the consultation. It called on all concerned to grant full access and freedom of movement to humanitarian organizations, to cease activities that could cause further displacement, and for allowing all internally displaced persons to return home.
The Council noted that full deployment of UNAMET would not be possible before 10 July. It urged the Secretary-General to take all steps to ensure full deployment by then, urging full cooperation with UNAMET and stressing the importance of free movement for UNAMET to carry out its tasks.
The meeting, which was called to order at 3:46 p.m., adjourned at 3:55 p.m.
Report of Secretary-General
When the Council met this afternoon, it had before it the Secretary- General's report on the question of East Timor (document S/1999/705), in which he postpones by two weeks the ballot date in that Territory's planned referendum on independence or integration with Indonesia. Due to security concerns and the absence of a level playing field, the Secretary-General says, he would be unable at the present time to certify that the necessary conditions exist to begin the operational phases of the consultation process. He would also wish to allow sufficient time for the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) to reach the strength necessary to begin registration successfully.
The Secretary-General says it is necessary to begin registration at the same time in all areas in order to give all East Timorese an equal opportunity to register for the 20 days called for in the 5 May Agreements. Therefore, UNAMET will not begin the operational phases until it is fully deployed, which would also give the Indonesian authorities time to address the pending security concerns. Full deployment of all field electoral officers and the majority of other personnel to East Timor would mean that registration could begin on 13 July, a delay of three weeks from the originally planned date of 22 June. Thus, the Secretary-General's determination that the necessary security situation exists for the consultation's peaceful implementation is postponed for three weeks, inevitably entailing a delay of the ballot date.
Citing his 5 May report on East Timor (document A/53/951-S/1999/513), the Secretary-General notes that in order for such a determination to be made, the following main elements must be in place: the bringing of armed civilian groups under strict control and the prompt arrest and prosecution of those inciting or threatening violence; a ban on rallies by armed groups; the redeployment of Indonesian military forces; the immediate institution of a process of laying down of arms by all armed groups, to be completed well in advance of the ballot; and the freedom of association and expression of all
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6695 4019th Meeting (PM) 29 June 1999
political forces and tendencies. The 5 May report noted high levels of tension and serious political violence in East Timor.
The Secretary-General states that subsequent oral reports to the Security Council noted some welcome developments. The establishment of a high-level Indonesian Task Force, reporting to a ministerial-level team in Jakarta, has provided for excellent channels of communication and operational cooperation between UNAMET and the Indonesian authorities. With UNAMET's deployment, security conditions in Dili and Baucau have visibly improved. The activities of the Commission on Peace and Stability are also encouraging, though much remains to be done to make it effective in addressing security issues on the ground. Similarly, the reconciliation between East Timorese leaders has moved forward, with pro-autonomy leaders having recently met with Xanana Gusmao and other pro-independence leaders. However, the relative calm in Dili and Baucau has not extended throughout the rest of East Timor, particularly the western districts, where the situation remains very serious.
In many areas, the report says, pro-integration militias, widely believed to be operating with the acquiescence of army elements, carry out acts of violence and intimidation against the population. The condition of the internally displaced is poor and delivery of assistance to them has practically ceased over the last three months. Local non-governmental and church organizations and other humanitarian groups have been threatened by the pro- integration militias, whose activities continue to constrict political freedom, silencing pro-independence activists and their supporters and forcing them into hiding.
According to the report, it is a matter of concern that the militias are being presented by some officials as civil defence forces, a case in point being the reported appointment of the head of one militia to a position in a proposed civil defence force for Dili. The UNAMET has also received complaints from pro- integration leaders of violence by the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor (Falintil). Following recent discussions with the police and Falintil, UNAMET accepted the handover by Falintil of two hostages, a police officer and a militia member. An examination of the two men revealed that, though not seriously injured, they bore bruises from mistreatment while in captivity.
While the opportunity for public expression by pro-independence activists has been severely limited, pro-autonomy campaigning has been actively pursued, in many cases by local officials, the report states. There are strong indications that public funds have been used to that end. That is contrary to the provisions of the 5 May Agreements, which limit campaigning to the designated campaign period, prohibit the use of public funds for campaign purposes and restrict government officials to campaigning in their private capacity.
Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6695 4019th Meeting (PM) 29 June 1999
The Secretary-General reports that despite numerous challenges, major strides have been made in deploying UNAMET staff and matériel, according to the report. Nevertheless, while the Mission has come into being with unusual speed, full deployment will take until 10 July at the earliest.
The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1999/20, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the report of the Secretary-General on the question of East Timor of 22 June 1999 (S/1999/705).
"The Security Council notes with understanding the Secretary-General's decision to postpone for three weeks his determination, which he will base on the main elements identified in his report of 5 May (S/1999/513), of whether the necessary security situation exists for the start of the operational phase of the consultation process in accordance with the Agreement between the United Nations and the Governments of Indonesia and Portugal (S/1999/513, annex III). The Council also endorses his intention that the operational phases of the popular consultation not begin until the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) is fully deployed, and his decision to postpone the ballot date for two weeks.
"The Security Council emphasizes that a popular consultation of the East Timorese people through a direct, secret and universal ballot represents an historic opportunity to resolve the question of East Timor peacefully. It concurs with the Secretary-General's assessment that this process must be transparent and that all parties must have the opportunity to express themselves freely.
"In this regard the Security Council expresses serious concern that the Secretary-General, in his assessment, concludes that the necessary conditions do not yet exist to begin the operational phases of the consultation process, given the security situation throughout much of East Timor and the absence of a "level playing field". It is especially concerned that the militias and other armed groups have carried out acts of violence against the local population and exercise an intimidating influence over them, and that these activities continue to constrict political freedom in East Timor, thus jeopardizing the necessary openness of the consultation process. The Council notes the Secretary-General's assessment that while the security situation has severely limited the opportunity for public expression by pro-independence activists, pro-autonomy campaigning has been actively pursued.
"The Security Council stresses the need for all sides to put an end to all kinds of violence and for utmost restraint before, during and after the consultation. It calls on UNAMET to follow up reports of violent activity by
Security Council - 5 - Press Release SC/6695 4019th Meeting (PM) 29 June 1999
both the pro-integration militias and Falintil. In this regard, it expresses grave concern at the attack on the UNAMET office in Maliana, East Timor, on 29 June 1999. The Council demands that the incident be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice. The Council also demands that all parties respect the safety and security of UNAMET personnel. The Security Council supports the statement of the Spokesman for the Secretary- General of 29 June 1999 and requests the Secretary-General to report further.
"The Security Council welcomes the positive developments identified by the Secretary-General. The Council warmly welcomes the excellent channels of communication between UNAMET and the Indonesian authorities which have been facilitated by the establishment of a high-level Indonesian task force in Dili. The Council warmly welcomes the opening of the DARE II talks in Jakarta with representatives of all sides in East Timor and the progress towards making the Commission on Peace and Stability operative.
"The Security Council stresses once again the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia to maintain peace and security in East Timor. The Council emphasizes that all local officials in East Timor must abide by the provisions of the Tripartite Agreements (S/1999/513, annexes I-III), in particular as regards the designated campaign period, the use of public funds for campaign purposes and the need to campaign only in their private capacity, without recourse to the pressure of office.
"The Security Council is particularly concerned at the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in East Timor and the implications which this may have for the universality of the consultation. It calls on all concerned to grant full access and freedom of movement to humanitarian organizations for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, to cease immediately activities which may cause further displacement, and to allow all IDPs who wish to do so to return home.
"The Security Council notes that full deployment of UNAMET will not be possible before 10 July 1999. It urges the Secretary-General to take all necessary steps to ensure full deployment by that time, and urges all parties to cooperate fully with UNAMET. It stresses the importance of allowing complete freedom of movement for UNAMET within East Timor in order to carry out its tasks.
"The Security Council urges the Indonesian Government and the pro- integration and pro-independence groups to continue to enhance cooperation with UNAMET, to allow the popular consultation to go ahead in a timely manner.
"The Security Council will remain seized of the matter."
* *** *