MILITIAS ROOT CAUSE OF PROBLEMS FOR UNT"T AND INDONESIA IN EAST TIMOR, SECRETARY-GENERAL"S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TELLS COUNCIL
MILITIAS ROOT CAUSE OF PROBLEMS FOR UNT"T AND INDONESIA IN EAST TIMOR, SECRETARY-GENERAL"S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TELLS COUNCIL
MILITIAS ROOT CAUSE OF PROBLEMS FOR UNTAET AND INDONESIA IN EAST TIMOR, SECRETARY-GENERALS SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TELLS COUNCIL20000929
There had been the two opposing developments in the East Timor situation since the Security Council last considered the Territory, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), told an open Security Council briefing this afternoon. Escalating violence in West Timor was contrasted with encouraging progress in the reconstruction being carried out by UNTAET.
He said the deteriorating security situation in the Indonesian province of West Timor had been tragically highlighted by the tragic 6 September killing of three Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) personnel at Atambua refugee camp. However, East Timor had seen the establishment of institutions that would prove critical to the viability of the future independent country.
It was essential to recognize that the root cause of problems for UNTAET and Indonesia were the militias, he stressed. Only when that problem had been effectively addressed would the plight of the remaining East Timorese refugees be resolved and the focus shifted to developing friendly cooperation between the Territory and Indonesia. The Indonesian authorities had to acknowledge and confront the fact that it was their responsibility alone to address the threat. Yet, where resolution and a certain degree of ruthlessness seemed to be required, we are witnessing hesitation and prevarication.
He noted that there were still no suspects in the killing of the three staff members of the UNHCR, which had happened in broad daylight in the presence of 10 Indonesian police officers. Nor had any suspects been arrested for the killing of United Nations peacekeepers.
Indonesia's representative said his country had accorded priority to the investigation of the Atambua incident and was questioning a suspect named Xisto Pereira in connection with the killing of the three UNHCR personnel. Prior to the killings, police had asked all UNHCR personnel to vacate the agency's office under their protection, and 10 of the 13 personnel had complied and been escorted to safety. But three others had chosen to remain and, hence, could not be saved, he explained.
* Meeting No. 4202 is closed. Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6928 4203rd Meeting (PM) 29 September 2000
He said Indonesia had adopted a two-step approach to disarming the militias. The first laid out a specific time frame for the voluntary surrender of weapons, and had resulted in the handing over of a large number of arms. The second step, starting on 27 September, entailed "sweeping" operations by a joint police/military team to confiscate weapons.
On the issue of refugees, he said that Indonesia had done more than its fair share in assisting them. Indonesia did not shirk its responsibilities to the East Timorese refugees, but the responsibility was shared. The United Nations, including the Security Council, had an important role to play in extending urgently needed assistance -- a role requiring much more than rhetoric and platitudes.
Australia's representative said reports of the militias' impunity were extremely disturbing. More needed to be done if the disarmament process was to succeed. There were a number of steps that must be taken for the process to be successful, including the permanent surrender of all militia weapons, the arrest and trial of suspects in the UNHCR staff killings, the arrest of key militia members, and the disbanding of the militias. It was incumbent on the Indonesian authorities to take whatever steps were needed to deliver on their undertakings to the Council. Australia and the international community were closely watching what concrete measures were taken on the ground, and looked forward to the achievement of tangible results.
Statements were also made by the representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Argentina, Namibia, China, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Canada, Tunisia, Malaysia, Ukraine, Jamaica, Mali, France, Japan, Brazil, Mozambique and New Zealand.
Also this afternoon, the President of the Council, Moctar Oune (Mali), and Mr. de Mello paid tribute to outgoing Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bernard Miyet, for his long years of service to the Organization.
The meeting, which began at 3:19 p.m., was adjourned at 6:20 p.m.
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6928 4203rd Meeting (PM) 29 September 2000
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in East Timor.
SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO, Special Representative of the Secretary-General to East Timor and Transitional Administrator, said since the Council last met on the Territory on 27 June there had been two opposing developments. On the one hand, there had been a significant deterioration in security and escalation of violence in West Timor. That had been most tragically highlighted by the murders in Atambua on 6 September of Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff members. On the other hand, and more encouragingly, there had been much progress in the reconstruction being carried out by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in all spheres, and in the establishment of those institutions which would prove critical to the viability of the future independent country.
He said it was essential to recognize that the root cause of the Administrations and Indonesias problems was the militia. Only when that problem had been effectively addressed will we be able to resolve the plight of the remaining East Timorese refugees and focus on developing friendly cooperation between the Territory and Indonesia. And how should we resolve the problem? he asked. First of all, the Indonesian authorities had to acknowledge and confront the fact that it was their responsibility alone to address the threat. Yet, where resolution and a certain degree of ruthlessness would seem to be required, we are witnessing hesitation and prevarication.
He said, at a disarmament ceremony in Atambua on 24 September, the well known suspect of crimes against humanity, Eurico Guterres, appeared in the midst of the police compound in which the ceremony had been held. He proceeded to incite his followers, and several militia members reclaimed some of the very weapons that formed the raison dêtre of the ceremony, unimpeded by the very numerous Indonesian military and police presence. There were also still no suspects in the case of the killing of the three UNHCR staff members - a murder that happened in broad daylight in the presence of 10 Indonesian police officers. Nor, for that matter, had any suspects been arrested for the killing of the United Nations soldiers.
There could hardly be a more eloquent demonstration of Indonesias current inability or refusal to deal effectively with the problem, he said. Impunity was running rampant. What was required was a coordinated, integrated and comprehensive strategy on the part of the Indonesian security forces, together with the necessary will, to hunt down and break up the militias and bring their leaders to justice. Reconciliation was a key requirement for a lasting peace. There had, however, been some suggestions that neither UNTAET nor CNRT had been working sufficiently hard to encourage political dialogue with pro-integrationists. That was inaccurate. I have made repeated efforts to engage in discussion with the political leadership of the pro-integration umbrella group UNI Timor Aswain (UNTAS), he said.
He had also appealed to the Indonesian Government to help the Administration to urgently draw a clear distinction between well meaning pro-autonomy representatives, and those, such as Eurico Guterres, who should be behind bars. The major political event of the reporting period was the CRNT Congress held in Dili in late August. The Congress focused on the future vision of the national unity body, its relationship with its composite political parties, and a range of national policy issues in the economic, social, security and political spheres. The Congress also spawned the birth of a new Timorese party -- the Social Democratic Party. Since mid-July, there had been a new cabinet structure with eight portfolios held by four Timorese and four UNTAET staff.
He said the major elements of the political transition were clear. The plan was to hold national elections in the second half of next year with a view to establishing a constituent assembly. That assembly would be tasked with drafting the constitution, choosing the members of the new transitional Government, and serving as interim legislature. Upon completion of the constitution, the assembly would become the new National Assembly of an independent East Timor.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said the Council had been demanding that the militia in West Timor be disarmed and disbanded for one year. There had to be a credible move against the militia in all the refugee camps in West Timor. The root cause of the violence remained unaddressed and persuasive methods were not working. She expressed concerned over the unhelpful comments of some Indonesian officials.
She went on to say that removing weapons was vital, but ultimately the militia leaders must be arrested and punished. There would be no security until the militias were part of the past. The Government of Indonesia had spoken about a comprehensive plan. The Indonesian Government was responsible for the care and security of the refugees, and it was time for it to produce a return plan for the refugees.
She supported a visit by the Council to Indonesia. Currently, an important donor meeting was scheduled. The attitude towards the timing and substance of that meeting would be influenced by Indonesias actions in the coming week. She welcomed the news that the cabinet of UNTAET officials and local officials in East Timor was working. She supported those efforts.
She stressed that there must be zero tolerance of violence. It was unconscionable that not one person had been arrested for the deaths of the five United Nations workers. It was owed to their families to see that justice was achieved.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said his Government fully supported UNTAET. While UNTAET and the East Timorese leadership continued to make steady progress, the main threat to their success was the activities of the militia. The unresolved fate of East Timorese refugees in West Timor was still a problem. The Indonesian officials had said they were investigating the situation, but their comprehensive plan of repatriation could not succeed until the militia members holding the refugees under threat were removed. It was time for the Council to express agreement that those benchmarks were imperative. The proposed date of the meeting on 12 October was too late to check the action being taken.
He said the international community continued to believe that it had to work in partnership with the Indonesian Government. Yet, the Council was still waiting for action on the part of that Government. He looked forward to the proposed meeting in Dili. The United Kingdom was ready to help the Government of Indonesia with all of the problems, but would find it hard to do so if there was no real progress in West Timor. There might be time to show that real progress had begun by the time of the October meeting, but so far no progress could be seen.
ANWARUL KARIM CH0WDHURY (Bangladesh) said that, while most United Nations missions were passing through difficult stages, UNTAET, despite known constraints and the enormity of the task, had been able to achieve a lot. The United Nations had a great stake in the success of UNTAET. Last June, the Council was looking ahead to issues relating to the independence of East Timor, security arrangements and capacity-building. Today the Council faced a problem of larger dimension. Burning down the UNHCR office in Atambua and killing three of their personnel had radically changed the situation in the West.
The Council was resolute in condemning the outrageous acts committed by the armed militia against United Nations personnel, he said. Such crimes could not go unpunished as that would weaken the very basis of relations between the United Nations and Member States. He believed that the Government of Indonesia was conscious of its responsibility in the matter. Bangladesh was very concerned about the plight of refugees living in camps in West Timor under the threat of further violence and penury. With the complete withdrawal of the international aid agencies, they were like a ticking humanitarian time bomb.
He said his country understood that the UNHCR could not return to West Timor until there was a credible security guarantee. The Government of Indonesia needed to act quickly and firmly to provide security. He strongly believed the need to maintain a line of communication between the Council and the Government. The Council should be taken into confidence and consulted. Its role consisted not in undermining the Government, but in assisting and advising it. An eventual Council mission should be considered in that context.
ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said the activities of UNTAET and the local community would bring about increasing progress towards elections that would lead to full independence for East Timor. He was, however, concerned about the recent violence and particularly the attacks on United Nations personnel. He hoped the United Nations forces would take all necessary means to defend themselves. He strongly condemned the murder of United Nations staff in Atambua. Those brutal events could not be tolerated and those responsible must be punished immediately.
He said the problems were based on two interrelated items -- the presence of refugees and the activities of the militia. The militia must be disbanded. It was said that their disarmament had begun, but that difficulties had been encountered. If it was not possible to achieve disarmament by persuasion, then force must be used. The international community was ready to give Indonesia whatever assistance it needed to bring about full compliance with resolution 1319 (2000).
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that his delegation was satisfied with the progress by UNTAET in the execution of its mandate. The continuing high priority that was given to reconciliation was commendable. Increased militia activities had provided more urgency to the establishment of an East Timor national defence force, and his delegation welcomed the cabinet decision in that regard. He hoped that the current forceful disarming action by the Indonesian Government against the militia in West Timor would normalize the border situation.
With regard to the situation in the camps in West Timor, his delegation remained concerned about the plight of the refugees he said. He called on the Government of Indonesia to provide them with all necessary humanitarian assistance in the absence of the United Nations agencies. He welcomed efforts by Indonesia to provide safety to the refugees. It was important that all the provisions of Council resolution 1319 (2000) be honoured. Those responsible for the murders on 6 September should be brought to justice swiftly.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the situation in West Timor was cause for great concern. Staff members had been murdered and United Nations officials had been subjected to threats and intimidation. The perpetrators must be brought to justice, he stressed. Indonesia had to ensure that violence against United Nations personnel would never happen again, and also provide security and safety in the refugee camps.
He said resolving the militia problem was a daunting task. China looked to Indonesia to take forceful measures that would put an end to actions by criminal elements. The refugees issue was a complex one that needed to be addressed in comprehensive manner. The international community should provide the necessary assistance in that regard. He commended and supported the work of Mr. de Mello and his staff, and thanked them for working under dangerous and daunting conditions.
PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said he was dismayed at the latest information received about the so-called crackdown on militias. This was the first briefing in three months by Mr. de Mello, and it was high time to commend him and his staff in the rebuilding of East Timor from scratch. He wanted to know if the East Timorese sense of ownership was growing. The recent negative developments in the Territory underscored the need for it to have the military capability to defend itself.
Close involvement with the United Nations would help in that regard, he continued. The Organizations guidance was needed to foster commitments and develop democracy in the future. The proposed armed forces, however, should not perform tasks that were outside their mandate. He noted that it would be some time before such a force was ready.
ANDREI GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said there had been a recent deterioration in the situation in Timor. His country was particularly concerned at new reports, which stated that the militias were armed with automatic weapons. He stressed the need for decisive action to be taken by Indonesia in that regard. He further stressed, however, that the efforts by the Indonesian authorities to normalize the situation in West Timor had not gone by unnoticed.
He said a timetable should be established for the visit by the Security Council delegation to East Timor. He hoped the next consideration of the Territory would take place in a more favourable atmosphere.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that he was distressed at the situation in West Timor, both for the people concerned and for its potential to further undermine the process of reconstruction in East Timor. "The safety of the 100,000 to 120,000 refugees in West Timor, and of the international personnel assisting them, must be uppermost in the minds of the Government of Indonesia, as it equally must be in our minds." Immediate action was necessary to bring an end to militia violence. A priority task in that regard was stopping cross-border incursions into East Timor, which in the past few months had caused the death and wounding of United Nations personnel and civilians. Nothing less than the complete disarmament and disbandment of the militias and the arrest and prosecution of those who violated human rights and humanitarian law would do.
He noted that the Indonesian Government and Army had begun a two-phased operation aimed at disarming the criminal elements responsible for the recent violence. At the same time, suggestions by members of the Indonesian Government -- which did not appear to have been officially contradicted -- that the recent murders were committed by foreign agents or that they were somehow inevitable were very worrisome. For that reason, he emphasized the need for international neutral monitoring of that process.
He urged the Indonesian Government to arrest and prosecute those responsible for the recent attacks against refugees and international personnel. Indonesia had taken important steps in investigating the violence that followed the referendum in August 1999. That progress might be lost, and Indonesia's reputation would be tarnished, if those crimes went unpunished. Finally, he reiterated the Council's call to Indonesia to cooperate in the visit to the region by a Council delegation. The Government and the Council would both benefit from full and frank dialogue on the best means to resolve the refugee issue and begin, in earnest, the process of reconstruction in East Timor.
OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said the difficult situation of the refugees in West Timor could become worse in the absence of humanitarian workers. The recent incidents of violence called into question the efforts of the international community in the last year. He called on the Indonesian Government to terminate the activities of the militias. He was sure that the cessation of those actions would be followed by other initiatives that he was confident the Indonesian Government would take.
He said the importance of security on the borders could not be minimized. The calming of the security situation would have a positive impact on the economy and, thus, on the internal domestic situation in the country. The post-conflict period required intensive efforts to bring back peace.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the situation pertaining to the militias in both East and West Timor had not improved. The slaying of three UNHCR staff on 6 September in Atambua had highlighted the continuing instability in and around the refugee camps in West Timor. The Council and the international community were justifiably outraged at the fact that humanitarian workers had become targets of threats, intimidation and murder. Out-of-control militiamen in West Timor were a threat not only to the peace and security in West Timor, but also to East Timor's own journey towards independence.
The UNTAET remained at considerable risk, despite improvements in the overall situation since its establishment, he continued. It was essential to effectively disarm the militiamen and protect the refugees. Recently, the Council had listened to the special envoy of the President of Indonesia on the measures by Indonesian authorities to manage the situation. He believed that Indonesia would make good on its promise to bring the situation under control and agreed with the representative of China that it was necessary to be understanding and supportive of the Government of Indonesia, avoiding taking a confrontational stand. Malaysia looked forward to the outcome of the investigation into the murder of the three UNHCR personnel. Clearly, in the light of the still precarious security situation, the earlier plan to downsize UNTAET would have to be considered with great circumspection until it became clear that the militias no longer posed a serious threat.
The UNTAET continued to make considerable progress on several aspects of its mandate, he said. Of particular importance was the decision of the National Consultative Council to approve, last week, a regulation on transitional rules of criminal procedures for East Timor. Malaysia also welcomed the signing in Denpasar, on 15 September, of a document establishing a joint border committee, consisting of civilian representatives from UNTAET and the Government of Indonesia. In conclusion, he noted the soon-to-begin registration of vehicles by UNTAET, and welcomed the recent decision of the transitional cabinet in East Timor on the establishment of a national defence force.
VOLODYMYR G. KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said the security situation in West Timor had deteriorated, thus, challenging United Nations efforts. Decisive steps by the Council had demonstrated its readiness to stop the escalation of violence in the region.
He was pleased that the Indonesian plan of action rested on a responsible basis, but he stressed the importance of a more cooperative approach to UNTAET. The disarmament and disbandment of the militia should be given top priority. He supported the suggestion by Mr. de Mello that all responsible for the crimes in West and East Timor be brought to justice.
He said that sending a Security Council mission to the area would be important. He also paid tribute to UNTAET, which was strategically inherent in responding to both short- and long-term events in the implementation of relevant Council resolutions.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the murder of United Nations staff members struck at the heart of the Organizations work. If staff decided to start staying home, there was very little the Organization could do. She reiterated the call for the Indonesian Government to disarm the militias. She said Jamaica was disappointed by the paltry yield of weapons in the recent disarmament exercise and wanted the Indonesian Government to enforce disarmament. A Council mission to Timor, in cooperation with the Indonesian Government, would yield positive results as it would send direct signals to the militias and East Timorese that the international community had not turned a blind eye.
She said the return of refugees to their places of origin was critical. Her delegation also supported the view that only when the problem of the militias was sufficiently addressed could the plight of refugees be addressed. While the security situation in East Timor was generally calm, the recent killing of a security person pointed to militia efforts to infiltrate the Territory. She did not wish to see the reversal of any gains made in the reconstruction of East Timor.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, said that he continued to be deeply concerned about the security situation in East Timor, which had deteriorated greatly. He believed that cooperation between the Indonesian Government and UNTAET, as well as with the UNHCR, was indispensable. He stressed the need to involve Timorese with the transition process as much as possible.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) also spoke on behalf of the European Union and the associated States of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.
He said the Union appreciated the remarkable work of Mr. de Mello and his team, and their determination to carry out the mandate of UNTAET. He commended the Administration on its excellent work in maintaining law and order. The Union was also gratified by the efforts of UNTAET and the World Bank to disburse trust funds from the Bank. The establishment of a global consolidated budget for 2000- 2001 was also a meaningful step forward. He encouraged the acceleration of training for the civilian police force.
He said the Union fully supported efforts by UNTAET to develop good governance and prepare the Timorese people for democracy. He wanted to know what Mr. de Mello thought of the functioning coalition Government, and what he thought could be done to improve it. The time was now right for Timorese to solidly pursue the goal of reconciliation. The Union was convinced, however, that activities of the militias would have serious repercussions on the political development of East Timor. He condemned the activities of the militias in West Timor and deplored the cowardly murder of the three UNHCR staff members. The perpetrators must be punished. The Union called on the Indonesian Government to put an end to the activities of the militias and to guarantee the safety of United Nations staff members.
YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said the situation in East Timor was at a critical juncture. The violence against United Nations personnel in West and East Timor must end. Urgent action was needed to address the needs of the refugees. The militias must be disarmed and the perpetrators of the heinous murders must be brought to justice. Only the Government of Indonesia was in a position to achieve this. While he understood the complexity of the task, he hoped Indonesia would pave the way for the refugee programme.
He said the dispatch of a Security Council mission had to be well thought out and executed in a manner that would facilitate a solution to the problems faced by the Indonesian Government. Noting that, in recent months, repatriation had come to a halt, he welcomed the proposed Indonesian comprehensive repatriation programme. That plan must be responsive to the will of each refugee. If the Indonesian Government was in need of assistance, the international community should not hesitate to offer its support.
Japan had always stressed the need to protect the lives of humanitarian personnel, he said. He urged the Indonesian Government to make every effort to ensure the safety of such personnel. At the same time, he urged the United Nations to ensure the safety of its personnel. The disarming of the militias was a prerequisite for stability. Japan remained committed to do its part to help achieve the rehabilitation and reconstruction of East Timor.
GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said the international community should be asking itself if there was anything that could have been done to prevent the violence that had occurred in Atambua early this month. The deterioration of the security situation in the region had been repeatedly reported to the Security Council. Before the three UNHCR staff members were killed earlier this month, other humanitarian workers had been beaten and harassed while fulfilling their duties in trying to alleviate the plight of the refugees. Against that backdrop, the deplorable acts in Atambua were not unpredictable.
He said the assassination of Olivio Medonca Moruk might have ignited the violence, but it was not the main factor in prompting the attack. The real cause lay in the incapacity to disarm and disband the militia and arrest the extremists who were willing to undermine the ongoing construction of a democratic State in East Timor. The threats against United Nations personnel after the weapons handover last Sunday were another symptom of the same issue.
It was essential that Indonesia continue to do its utmost to disarm the militias, bring justice to those responsible for wrongdoing, and protect the refugees, he said. He welcomed the latest reports of enforcement measures taken by Indonesia to disarm the militias. Expressing concern about the shortage of food, medicine and water in the refugee camps, he said urgent action was needed to prevent an even bigger humanitarian catastrophe. A durable solution would require not only resources, but also the political will to put resentment behind and to look ahead to a future of peace and prosperity.
CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said that in the one year since the people of East Timor had taken a historic decision to vote for the independence of their Territory, positive developments had taken place there. With the support of UNTAET, the Timorese were engaged in the promotion of national political dialogue, which would contribute to national reconciliation and create the basis for the future government of the Territory. There had also been significant progress in the restoration of basic social services. The establishment of the transitional administration would go a long way towards improving the living conditions of the people, and help lay the foundations for an independent East Timor.
He was gravely concerned over the continued violence and destabilizing activities of the armed militias, he continued. The recent attack by the militias against the UNHCR office in Atambua, which resulted in the murder of three international workers and the destruction of the office, were a clear demonstration of the violent acts perpetrated by the militias. Paying homage to the brave international workers who chose to aid the people of East Timor, he said that the international community could not accept the continuation of such acts of violence, which created an environment of instability.
He noted that the Government of Indonesia had initiated the process of disarming the militias, and expressed hope that that would proceed speedily and effectively, and culminate with the demobilization of those forces of instability. The UNTAET was doing a remarkable job in creating the necessary conditions for the independence of the Territory. As a Portuguese-speaking country and as the current chairman of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, Mozambique would continue to make its modest contribution to UNTAET and the transitional process.
MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand), recalling that earlier this week United Nations peacekeepers from New Zealand had clashed with heavily armed and aggressive militia units in the Suai district, said his Government had a direct interest in the security and stability of East Timor. He joined the call by the Council and others for all the provisions of Council resolution 1319 (2000) to be implemented without delay by the Government of Indonesia. West Timor must be rid of the dangerous militia units which had demonstrated that they cared little for the stability of either West or East Timor. They had prevented the international community from helping the Government of Indonesia provide much-needed assistance to East Timorese refugees. The longer they prevailed in West Timor, the more unstable the border with East Timor. Militia members, and especially their leaders, who were suspects in the recent murders of United Nations civilian and military personnel and innocent civilians must be arrested immediately and put on trial.
He said New Zealand wished to provide more assistance, but could only do so when peace and security was restored to West Timor and international humanitarian personnel were able to return without fearing for their lives. He called for the earliest dispatch of the Security Council mission to Indonesia and East Timor to help the situation.
PENNY WENSLEY (Australia) said her country condemned the militia attacks, which had resulted in the deaths of three staff members of the UNHCR in Atambua early this month. She welcomed the Indonesian Government's undertakings to resolve the security problems in West Timor and, in particular, its timetable for disarming the militia. She said, however, that she was aware that the disarmament process was still being implemented and that it had a long way to go before it would be fully implemented.
She said reports of the militias continuing to act with impunity were extremely disturbing. More needed to be done if the disarmament process was to succeed. There were a number of steps that must be taken for the process to be successful, including the permanent surrender of all militia weapons, the arrest and trial of suspects in the UNHCR staff killings, the arrest of key militia members, and the disbanding of the militia.
She said it was incumbent on the Indonesian authorities to take whatever steps were needed to deliver on their undertakings to the Council. Australia and the international community were closely watching what concrete measures were taken on the ground, and looked forward to the achievement of tangible results. At this critical time, it was also important that local West Timorese authorities take effective measures to ensure the well-being of refugees, including the effective distribution of food supplies.
MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said that despite the Indonesian Government's sincere, concerted efforts over the past year, the Atambua incident had regrettably brought to the forefront residual problems, including the refugee situation in West Timor which had become a formidable challenge for all concerned. Those problems could only be resolved through bold measures on four questions: investigation of the 6 September incident and prosecution of the perpetrators; disarming the militias; reaching a comprehensive solution on refugees; and promoting East Timorese reconciliation.
Indonesia had accorded priority to the investigation of the Atambua incident, he said. A suspect named Xisto Pereira was being questioned in connection with the killing of the three UNHCR personnel, and investigations into the murder of Olivio Mendoza Moruk were continuing. Amid the emotionally charged environment caused by the killing of that militia leader on 5 September, police had asked all UNHCR personnel to vacate their office under police protection. Of those 13 personnel, 10 had complied and had been escorted to safety, while three others had chosen to remain and, hence, could not be saved.
He said Indonesia had adopted a two-step approach to disarming the militias. The first laid out a specific time frame for the voluntary surrender of weapons by 24 September 2000 and had resulted in the handover of 888 home-assembled weapons, 34 standard weapons, four grenades, and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. That deadline had been extended to 27 September, during which time an additional 215 weapons had been surrendered, including four units of M-16s, 13 grenades, and 1,900 rounds of ammunition. The second step, starting on 27 September, entailed "sweeping" operations by a joint police/military team to confiscate weapons.
On the issue of refugees, he said that Indonesia had done more than its fair share in assisting them. Urgent steps had been implemented to take over the provision of humanitarian emergency relief following the departure of the UNHCR and other international humanitarian agencies. Indonesia did not shirk its responsibilities to the East Timorese refugees, but that was a shared responsibility. The United Nations, including the Security Council, had an important role to play in extending urgently needed assistance -- a role requiring much more than rhetoric and platitudes.
Responding to questions from member States, Mr. DE MELLO said negotiations for bilateral relations and agreements between Indonesia and East Timor were under way. Cooperation with Indonesia was vital for the future of the Territory.
He said the arrest of the criminal commanders of the militias was the key focus of all actions currently taking place. The militias had to be halted.
Addressing a question on the proposed defence force, he said the idea of a force was receiving broad support. There was a suggested course of action, and the responsibility of a meeting to address the issue had been advanced.
Responding to question raised on the downsizing of the military component of UNTAET, Mr. de Mello said he had always been a strong supporter of that idea, but for now he would recommend that a freeze be put on that course of action.
Addressing a point raised on the Administrations response to the sudden influx of refugees, he said the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs would be entrusted with handling that issue. The number of refugees was somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000, and sufficient goods and facilities had to be made available. The international community must support East Timor in that regard, he stressed. The problem of refugees could have ended a long time ago if the militias had been removed, because relief agencies would have been able to go in to the communities and do their work.
He said UNTAET would continue to do whatever was needed to implement its mandate. The UNTAET Fund and the bilateral funds had also enabled a number of quick impact projects to be implemented since last year.
Regarding the budget that had been adopted for 2000-2001, which was less than $60 million, he said initially that figure should have been enough to govern East Timor. Unfortunately, however, donors would now have to be approached for more funds.
Mr. de Mello concluded by paying tribute to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bernard Miyet, who was retiring.
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