SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION CONCLUDES CONSIDERATION OF EAST TIMOR

24 June 1999
GA/COL/3011

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION CONCLUDES CONSIDERATION OF EAST TIMOR

24 June 1999


Press Release
GA/COL/3011


SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON DECOLONIZATION CONCLUDES CONSIDERATION OF EAST TIMOR

19990624 The United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) should not favour either the pro-autonomy or pro-independence groups as it conducted its work, a petitioner this morning told the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

As the Committee concluded consideration of the question of East Timor, the representative of the East Timor Students Movement added that it was also important for UNAMET to discard misleading reports from certain groups and individuals. Many such reports were without clarification and could only be confirmed by local police. He said the Indonesian proposal for autonomy was most acceptable to the East Timorese. It allowed them to continue on the path to development and to put the bloody civil war behind them. For the people of East Timor, it was their destiny to live as Indonesians.

Speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor, another petitioner said Indonesia had ignored and even defied the terms of the 5 May agreement. Killings, intimidation, torture and dislocation had become a daily staple for the East Timorese. It was no secret that the terror sowed by militias in East Timor was the handiwork of the Indonesian military and it was ironic that the Indonesian army was at the same time overseeing East Timor's security. It was more ironic that the most notorious of the militia leaders had responsibility for the police force that would oversee the referendum. That was a naked violation of the United Nations accords.

The Committee decided to continue consideration of the item at its next session, subject to any directives that the General Assembly might give at its fifty-fourth session.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 28 June, to consider the question of New Caledonia and the questions of American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tokelau, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands.

Committee Work Programme

The Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples met this morning to continue hearing petitions on the question of East Timor.

The Committee had before it a working paper on East Timor (document A/AC.109/1999/10), which has been prepared by the Secretariat. According to the paper, 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 detailed background see Press Release GA/COL/3008 dated 22 June.)

Statements

OCTAVIO DE JESUS SOARES, East Timor Students Movement, said the proposal for special autonomy was most acceptable to the East Timorese, for it allowed them to continue on the path to development along with the rest of their Indonesian brothers. The wide-ranging autonomy also gave the East Timorese the opportunity to forgive each other. Furthermore, it would be a solution for the bloody civil war that should be relegated to East Timor's past. For the people of East Timor, it was against their destiny if they did not live as Indonesians. One could not simply live with just ideals and political principles -- those should be coupled with reality to give them credence.

He said he felt sorry for his fellow East Timorese who wanted to impose their political ideas on others for their own gain. Such elements should stop using, manipulating and exploiting their countrymen. It was also important for East Timorese that the agreements offering wide-ranging autonomy be implemented in a successful manner. Towards that end, the Indonesian Government had worked tirelessly to promote peace and tranquillity among the various groups of East Timorese society.

He added that it was important that the members of the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) did not take sides with either pro- integration or anti-integration groups. They should also discard misleading reports. In many cases, the United Nations received reports from certain groups and individuals without clarification or confirmation. It was only the local police that had the duty to clarify existing reports. When reports or information were not checked with the appropriate authorities, it lead to

Decolonization Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/COL/3011 7th Meeting (AM) 24 June 1999

rumour and innuendo, giving rise to speculation that there was a serious situation occurring, when actually the opposite was the real scenario.

AUGUSTO N. MICLAT, Jr., on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor, said that the more important terms of reference of the 5 May agreement had been ignored, if not defied, by the Indonesian side. Indonesia had thumbed its nose at the United Nations, blatantly mocking the accords and the presence in the Territory of UNAMET. Killings, intimidation, torture and dislocations had become a daily staple for the East Timorese. Sadly, those atrocities were perpetrated by some of their own, with the obvious support of the Indonesians. It was no secret that the terror sowed by the militias was the handiwork of the Indonesian military, as had virtually been confirmed by the latest UNAMET report.

The dire situation in East Timor paled in comparison with events in Kosovo, he said. As the world was transfixed by that likewise terrible theatre, armed rogues roamed East Timor with sheer impunity. The terror had been in East Timor for the last 24 years and had taken a darker form in recent months, just as the East Timorese were preparing finally to exercise their right to self-determination. Entire villages had been cordoned into virtual refugee camps, without food, medical attention or independent verification of the situation.

He said it was the height of irony that the Indonesian armed forces -- the occupying force -- were at the same time tasked with overseeing the security of the Territory and ensuring that peace and order prevailed leading up to the United Nations-brokered referendum. It was more ironic that the most notorious of the militia leaders, Eurico Guterres, had just been appointed by the Indonesians to head the police force that would specifically oversee the referendum process. That was a naked violation of the United Nations accords, a travesty of the United Nations Charter and a mockery of the Office of the Secretary-General.

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For information media. Not an official record.