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Postelection Statement on East Timor Elections, Sept. 6, 1999

The Carter Center has been forced by militia attacks in East Timor to evacuate its remaining three international staff members from the territory. Their reports from Jakarta of the events they witnessed just prior to leaving the East Timor capital of Dili conclusively show complicity of Indonesian forces, both police and military, with the armed gangs terrorizing and displacing the local East Timorese populace. This includes militias' efforts to drive international observers, journalists, and U.N. staff out of East Timor.

This violent situation is not chaotic, but rather appears to follow a plan, since Indonesian forces openly tolerate or even support assaults and killing of unarmed civilians by the militias. The Indonesian government has repeatedly pledged to take steps to stop the violence and has sufficient forces in East Timor to do so, but no action to stop the rampaging militias is evident in Dili or elsewhere in East Timor. At the very least, insubordination of military forces in the territory to higher command officials is occurring. Immediate changes in command and public issuance of orders to the military to use force to stop the militias are required.

If the U.N. ambassadorial delegation determines that the Indonesian government is not prepared to reverse this situation immediately, every step should be taken to get President B.J. Habibie to agree to the introduction of armed international peacekeeping forces.

Carter Center observers, now stationed in Jakarta, have confirmed thefollowing incidents through direct observation or reliable reports fromeyewitnesses in East Timor:

  • Since the vote results were announced on Saturday, armed pro-integration militia members have erected roadblocks throughout Dili and control the streets of the capital at all hours of the day. Militia members are: terrorizing and murdering unarmed civilians; intimidating, threatening, and attacking international personnel; burning houses; and displacing large numbers of people. Carter Center observers have on numerous occasions witnessed militia members perpetrating acts of violence in full view of heavily-armed police and military personnel who either stand by and watch or actively assist the militias.
  • On Monday afternoon, Sept. 6, in Dili, reports were received that thousands of internally displaced persons were being taken from their places of refuge in Dili by police and loaded on trucks headed for West Timor.
  • Over the weekend, militia members attacked and burned the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the residence of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bishop Carlos Belo, and other places of refuge, forcing thousands of internally displaced people sheltered in those places to flee.
  • Carter Center observers contacted officials at one Catholic mission in Dili that was sheltering several thousand internally displaced persons. They said armed militia had removed all young men from the compound on Monday evening. Their current whereabouts and condition is unknown.
  • Carter Center observers were attacked by militia at the port of Dili asthey attempted to evacuate the Carter Center's local East Timorese staff onSunday. After being pursued through the city by armed militia and byIndonesian police, the Center's international observers were evacuatedto Jakarta with the help of the Australian consulate and the U.S. Embassy.Carter Center local staff are still scattered in Dili and unaccounted for.
  • International press and observers were forced at gunpoint by Indonesian police to evacuate their hotels and residences on Sunday and Monday and driven to the airport. A small number of international journalists refused to leave and some are now taking refuge at UNAMET headquarters.
  • There has been almost constant automatic weapon fire around and over UNAMET headquarters since Saturday evening. On Sunday night several thousand internally displaced persons sheltered in a school adjacent to UNAMET headquarters were forced to flee into the U.N. compound after automatic weapons with tracer bullets were fired over their heads. An estimated 2,000 people have now taken refuge in the U.N. compound.
  • UNAMET has been forced to evacuate all eight of their regional offices and on Monday evacuated a large number of international staff from UNAMET headquarters in Dili. U.N. vehicles carrying evacuees to the airport on Monday were fired upon.
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