Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center are closely monitoring the public consultation process on autonomy in East Timor through neutral, nonpartisan observers assessing preparations for the vote, the security environment, and the fairness of the campaign. Following is the second in a series of weekly reports to be issued by The Carter Center observer mission before and after the consultation.
Dili, East Timor...During the past week, registration for the public consultation in East Timor continued with strong turnout of potential voters, and few reported incidents of violence. UNAMET operations are in full swing, but no date has been set for the consultation vote. While registration and other UNAMET activities are now proceeding well, The Carter Center is concerned that an atmosphere of fear and intimidation continues to prevail in many parts of East Timor.
The Center is particularly concerned about persistent reports of Indonesian military involvement in the activities of pro-integration militia groups. In direct interviews with local residents, self-proclaimed members and commanders of armed pro-integration groups, Indonesian soldiers and senior military personnel in Baucau district, Carter Center observers were told that one Timorese pro-integration group known as Saka is being armed, trained, equipped, directed and paid by the Indonesian military.
This report is based on field visits to Baucau and Manatuto districts during the past several days, and on meetings in Dili with senior Indonesian Government, military, and police officials; members of the Indonesian Government Task Force for the Implementation of the Popular Consultation; the Commission for Peace and Stability; Timorese nongovernmental organizations; UNAMET officials; representatives of international organizations; diplomats; and members of groups which favor integration into Indonesia as well as pro-independence groups.
The Carter Center is very encouraged by the following developments in East Timor and believes that the continuation of such conditions will further enhance the opportunity for the fair conduct of the consultation.
- Voter Registration: Large numbers of people are registering at centers across East Timor. Carter Center observers witnessed long lines at all registration centers visited. Numerous interviews with potential voters indicate that the majority are satisfied with the conduct of registration and remain committed to participating in a peaceful, fair, and democratic consultation.
Carter Center observers received no complaints about the identification requirements for registration, but many people are unaware of the availability of a UNAMET Affidavit of Birth for those who do not have the required identification. With the notable exception of internally displaced persons, it appears that the large majority of eligible voters will have the opportunity to register for the upcoming consultation.
- The Pre-Consultation Role of UNAMET: UNAMET has nearly completed deployment of its personnel to East Timor. The mission was fully ready for registration to begin and registration is proceeding smoothly. The UN deployed rapidly for this mission. Indonesian police have provided good security for UNAMET personnel during the registration period.
The Center continues to have serious concern, however, about continuing intimidation of the East Timorese, violations of the New York agreements and the issue of redeployment of the Indonesian military. These concerns were noted in our weekly report released July 20, 1999. To date, these issues have not been adequately addressed.
The Carter Center remains particularly concerned about reports of Indonesian military support of armed pro-integration groups and the plight of internally displaced persons. Both of these issues must be addressed to ensure conditions established by the May 5 New York Agreements for the popular consultation are met.
- Military Support of Pro-Integration Groups: The Carter Center has received numerous reports of Indonesian military (TNI) involvement in the activities of militias over the past several weeks, but until now has been unable to independently confirm a direct link between armed pro-integration groups and the military. Carter Center observers recently visited a number of camps in several districts that local residents claim are militia posts, and in several cases observers found evidence of Indonesian military involvement in these camps. Carter Center observers have now identified at least one group in Baucau district known as Pusaka or Saka that is being armed, trained, equipped, directed, and its members paid by the military. The existence of this group and its ties to the Indonesian military have been confirmed through interviews with local residents, members of Saka, and local senior military personnel.
- Harassment and Intimidation Continues: Local residents in several different areas in Bacau complained of harassment and intimidation by pro-integration groups. Residents identified Saka and Rajawali as militia groups that work in cooperation with the TNI, and say armed members visit them at night, threatening violence and bloodshed after the vote if autonomy is rejected. Members of the militia groups who were interviewed described Saka and Rajawali as Timorese military groups that fight for autonomy and reported that they work with local TNI units to provide security and promote the autonomy option.
- Internally Displaced Persons:Poor security conditions continue to prevent tens of thousands of internally displaced persons in East Timor from returning to their homes. For internally displaced persons to be able to participate in the consultation as provided in the New York Agreements, adequate security conditions must exist for them to return to their homes immediately and to ensure that no others are driven from their homes by intimidation or violence.
Note:Paragraph 4 of the Security Agreement states that the Indonesian police are solely responsible for the maintenance of law and order during the consultation process. Paragraph 1 of the same agreement states that the Indonesian police and military must be absolutely neutral throughout the consultation process. It is essential that all support for Timorese groups of any description by the military cease at once and that all security functions are handed over to the police.
- Post-Consultation Security:Many of those interviewed by Carter Center observers fear that UNAMET will leave East Timor immediately after the vote, and are concerned about their safety. It is important, therefore, that UNAMET clearly explains the role the UN will play in East Timor after the consultation.