SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE CONTINUES TO HEAR SPEAKERS ON EAST TIMOR

23 June 1999
GA/COL/3010

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE CONTINUES TO HEAR SPEAKERS ON EAST TIMOR

23 June 1999

Press ReleaseGA/COL/3010

SPECIAL DECOLONIZATION COMMITTEE CONTINUES TO HEAR SPEAKERS ON EAST TIMOR

19990623

The flexibility and innovation of the Indonesian Government and its leading role in finding a settlement was the spark that had made negotiations possible, a petitioner said this afternoon in the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

The representative of the LANSIA, a Indonesian senior-citizens group in New York, said that from the moment the Government had announced its initiative to grant East Timor wide-ranging autonomy, the talks between Indonesia and Portugal had begun to record progress. Indonesia had also offered to allow East Timor to separate if the people wished. That showed a firm determination to reach a solution regardless of the disinformation campaign waged against Indonesia by a handful of people. Regrettably, the same handful of elements who were against the integration, were today utilizing every opportunity to subvert the wishes and aspirations of the East Timorese.

The representative of Indonesia said it was important to respect the rights of all East Timorese under the 5 May agreements -- those who supported autonomy and those who supported independence. Unfortunately, the spreading of false information continued. Each side had a list of the wrong-doings perpetrated by the other side -- nothing would be accomplished by exchanging those lists. No one could deny that there had been intimidation and violence perpetrated in East Timor. However, it had been perpetrated by pro- integration groups as well as pro-independence groups. The police had worked to ensure that all threats to peace and security were addressed. No reports of false information would help bring peace to the East Timorese.

The representative of Portugal said the presence of the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) had a stabilizing effect in the capital of Dili. Outside the capital, however, fear and intimidation were still pervasive. Indonesia must heed its commitments under the Tri-Partite Agreement. Unfortunately, Indonesian armed forces in East Timor had yet to comply with that Agreement. It had now been established that the armed forces were guiding the action of the pro-integration militias and even assuming their direct command. It was in the hands of the Indonesian authorities to end those violations.

Decolonization Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/COL/3010 6th Meeting (AM) 23 June 1999

A representative of Australia East Timor Association said that the Indonesian armed forces and others were orchestrating a campaign -- conducted through proxy mercenary militias -- to enforce East Timor's integration with Indonesia or cause the ballot to be abandoned altogether. The Indonesian military was directly violating the United Nations agreement to "ensure a secure environment for a free and fair popular consultation". He added that the death toll in the last months was probably over 500 and climbing. The vast majority of victims had been independence leaders and supporters targeted by the military-backed militias and the Indonesian military intelligence apparatus.

Petitions were also heard from representatives of the following non- governmental organizations: Forum Nusantara; Australian Council for Overseas Aid; Concelho Nacional de Resistencia Timorense; and the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor. An individual petition was made by Juvencio De Jesus Martins.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 24 June, to continue its consideration of the question of East Timor.

Decolonization Committee - 2 - Press Release GA/COL/3010 6th Meeting (PM) 23 June 1999

Committee Work Programme

When the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples meets this afternoon it will consider requests for hearing and continue hearing petitions on the question of East Timor. The Committee will have before it a working paper on East Timor which has been prepared by the Secretariat (document A/AC.109/1999/10).

According to the working paper on East Timor, Indonesian law states that East Timor is a province of a "first-level region" of Indonesia, with a government consisting of a "Regional Secretariat" and a "regional House of Representatives". East Timor is represented in the National House of Representatives and in the People's Consultative Assembly of Indonesia. In its resolution 32/34 of November 1977, however, the General Assembly rejected the claim that East Timor had been integrated into Indonesia, inasmuch as the people of the Territory had not been able to exercise freely their right to self-determination. (For more background details, see press release GA/COL/3008 dated 22 June).

Statements

SOENARTO J. ATMOJO, Forum Nusantara, said before colonization there was a federation of kingdoms all over Indonesia. That federation was called Nusantara and the island of Timor was an integral part of it. The peaceful federation had been shattered by colonization, a process which had affected the people of East Timor. At that time, there had been no such thing as East Timor. It had been one island and it had been part of Nusantara. Despite the allegations and distortions about genocide, rape and plunder being levelled at the Government and People of Indonesia, the people of East Timor had enjoyed development and advancement that had not been available to them under colonial rule. Today's Indonesia was the manifestation of the modern day Nusantara, where nationhood, tolerance and prosperity were fostered. However, he believed the choice of independence or integration ultimately belonged to the people of East Timor.

Mr. PRAMTOMO, LANSIA -- an Indonesian senior citizens group in New York -- said looking back over the developments leading to the 5 May agreements, it was obvious that the flexibility and innovation of the Indonesian Government and its leading role in finding a settlement was the spark that made the negotiations possible. From the moment the Government had announced its initiative -- the proposal to grant East Timor wide-ranging autonomy -- the tripartite talks had begun to record progress. That proposal for wide-ranging autonomy was an innovative one, for it offered East Timor the choice to remain a part of Indonesia. Yet the people of East Timor would have the right to make its own laws and regulations and have its own political

system, with the exception of foreign relations, defence, and monetary and fiscal polices.

He added that, in addition to that proposal, the Indonesian Government had offered to allow East Timor to separate if the people wished, following the consent of the Indonesian Parliament. The proposals and efforts showed a firm determination of Indonesia to stay on the path to reaching a solution regardless of the propaganda and disinformation campaign waged against it for years by a handful of people. Regrettably, the same handful of elements who had been against the integration of East Timor with Indonesia, were today utilizing every opportunity to subvert the wishes and aspirations of the East Timorese.

JOHN MILLER, Australia East Timor Association, said the essential problem was that the Indonesian Armed Forces and influential pro- integrationists in East Timor's regional government were orchestrating a campaign -- conducted through proxy mercenary militias -- to enforce East Timor's integration with Indonesia or cause the ballot to be abandoned altogether. The Indonesian military was directly violating the United Nations agreement that they "ensure a secure environment for a free and fair popular consultation". Many other aspects of the agreement were also being violated. Reports from East Timor indicated that, though the reign of terror might have abated somewhat in Dili, it was still operational outside the capital.

He said the death toll in the last months was probably over 500 and climbing. The vast majority of victims had been independence leaders and supporters targeted by the military-backed militias and the Indonesian military intelligence apparatus. The campaign of terror and intimidation involving attacks on homes and villages, rape, torture, murder and "disappearance" continued. Tens of thousands of internally displaced refugees had fled the violence, and that was causing an acute humanitarian crisis. The Indonesian military presence in East Timor was about 20,000, with an additional 10,000 or so militia members. The military had a presence in every village in East Timor and had extensive networks. Its capacity to coerce and control had been bolstered by the recent influx of military intelligence operatives.

He said the United Nations, under current conditions, would ultimately have only about 900 personnel -- including an unarmed police advisory presence. Most were not yet in place. In those circumstances, there could not be a fully "free and fair" vote. To go ahead without a significant bolstering or fundamental re-jigging of the United Nations Mission was fraught with risks. If the vote was to go ahead under the current arrangements and led to a pro-integration outcome, it would be widely perceived as having been rigged. Such a vote would not lead to resolution. It would most likely lead to mass killings and a major exodus of refugees as the Indonesian military and their militias moved to eliminate their political opponents. TRACY MOAVIERA, Australian Council for Overseas Aid, said her organization had found a pervasive climate of intimidation and human rights violations in East Timor. Records showed that 308 such violations had occurred in April, most perpetrated by the military and militias against civilians. Civil servants were being required to sign a form to indicate which way they would vote in the ballot and pro-independence officials were experiencing severe intimidation. The police, who had formal responsibility for security, showed little evidence of being able to enforce the rule of law or arrest perpetrators for human-rights violations.

She said there were between 40,000 and 50,000 internally displaced people living in appalling conditions. Many were in camps controlled by the militias. Humanitarian organizations were facing extreme difficulties in reaching those people, as local authorities and militias frequently denied the existence of such camps. The displaced people were in urgent need of food and medical care and it was imperative that the United Nations maintain intense pressure on those denying access to them.

JUVENCIO DE JESUS MARTINS, speaking in his personal capacity, said as a result of the Indonesian invasion of his homeland -- East Timor -- in 1975, more than 200,000 people had died and the entire infrastructure of the Territory had been destroyed. The pretext of the Indonesian Government that invading East Timor was a moral response to rescue the Timorese from the brutal repression of the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of East Timor was an argument that had been fabricated to divert the international community's attention away from the legitimate right to self-determination and independence of the East Timorese. That invasion had marked the beginning of a systematic, physical and cultural genocide. The Government of Indonesia did not have the good will to solve the East Timor conflict peacefully.

The evidence that it had publicly declared its concession of the two options of integration or independence for the people of East Timor was merely due to the critical economic situation that had devastated Indonesia and the fall of former President Suharto in 1998. It was widely know that the question of East Timor was a question of decolonization, which had been interrupted by the Indonesian military invasion in 1975. It was a question that, adjacent to others, was still the responsibility of the Committee. Before the year 2000, as the Committee continued to brush from the face of the earth all the manifestations of colonialism, he expressed his conviction that East Timor should not be excluded.

CONSTANCIO PINTO, National Council of East Timorese Resistance, said that his organization had fully embraced the historical agreements of 5 May and had since contributed in whatever way it could to ensure peace and stability conducive to a fair and free vote in East Timor. Xanana Gusmao, in his capacity as president of the National Council, had called for a unilateral ceasefire of the East Timorese Liberation Army and had committed himself to actively participate in the reconciliation talks with all the belligerent members of the conflict.

His organization was aware of the difficult task faced by the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET). However, it would play a major role in a solution to the question of East Timor. He urged the United Nations to quickly and fully deploy its presence throughout East Timor, and he urged Indonesia to fully cooperate with the United Nations in the fulfilment of its obligations under the 5 May agreements. One of those obligations must be the release of Xanana Gusmao and other East Timorese so they could participate fully in the upcoming campaign and ballot.

FERNANDO NEVES (Portugal) said it was clear that the human rights situation in East Timor had not improved during the last year. While the patterns of violation might have changed, the people of East Timor continued to endure a cruel and senseless degree of violence. The responsibilities for the implementation of the New York Agreement were clearly set out. If the parties complied in good faith with those obligations, "we are convinced that the current atmosphere will rapidly improve and the East Timorese will be allowed to freely express their will, without fear of intimidation or reprisals".

He said that goal, however, was yet to be achieved. While UNAMET'S presence had a stabilizing effect in Dili, outside the capital, fear and intimidation were still pervasive. Indonesia must heed its commitments under the Tri-Partite Agreement. Unfortunately, Indonesian armed forces in East Timor had yet to comply with that formal and international engagement. It had now been established that the Indonesian armed forces were guiding the action of the pro-integration militias and even, as had been witnessed, assuming their direct command. It was in the hands of the Indonesian authorities to put an end to those violations.

The Indonesian authorities must keep their word and place those groups under strict control and discipline and bring those responsible for violence to justice, he continued. That would encourage the estimated 35,000 internally displaced persons to return to their villages in order to register for the vote. It must also be realized that while pro-integration groups enjoyed freedom of action throughout the Territory, many East Timorese political prisoners, namely Xanana Gusmao, had not been released, and other pro-independence leaders were unable to work openly. Those were serious impediments to the equal opportunities that must be given to all political segments to express their view points on an equal basis, and would most certainly undermine the process.

ARIZAL EFFENDI (Indonesia) said it was regrettable that the representative of Portugal had resorted to the same arguments of the past, and that Portugal still held itself as the champion of the East Timorese. However, he would not respond to the Portuguese intervention point by point and use the Committee's time. Indonesia wanted peace in East Timor -- it did not wish to have a spot in its archipelago that was the source of bloody conflict. However, it was important to respect the rights of all East Timorese under the 5 May agreements -- those who supported autonomy and those who supported independence. Unfortunately, the spreading of false information continued. Impartiality in the situation was needed. Each side had a list of the wrong-doings perpetrated by the other side -- nothing would be accomplished by exchanging those lists.

Autonomy was a middle way, and he hoped it would cause a win-win solution for all involved, he said. Indonesia did not stop there, it had gone an extra mile to heal the wounds in East Timor and allowed the East Timorese to vote on its future. No one could deny that there had been intimidation and violence perpetrated in East Timor. However, it had been perpetrated by pro- integration groups, as well as pro-independence groups. The police had worked to ensure that all threats to peace and security were addressed. No reports of false information would help bring peace to the East Timorese.

Mr. NEVES (Portugal) said he regretted the insulting words with which the Indonesian delegate had opened his statement. Indonesia was denying the obvious -- that the military was supporting militia activities in East Timor. The new democracy in Indonesia deserved more than that.

Mr. EFFENDI (Indonesia) said he did not want to waste the time of the Committee with negative comments. He stood by his previous statement.

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For information media. Not an official record.