Mon, 18 Sep 2000

Australia might be behind Atambua: Mahfud

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Minister of Defense Mahfud MD said here on Saturday that he agreed with the deputy chairman of Commission I of the House of Representatives that Australia might be behind the mayhem in Atambua last week.

Mahfud said that evidence collected by his office indicates Australia's possible involvement in the attack which resulted in the death of three UN humanitarian workers. He refused to reveal the evidence his office had lest the investigation is jeopardized.

He was referring to Maj. Gen. Ferry Tinggogoy's statement on Australia's alleged involvement. Tinggogoy, a retired Army general, is a member of the military/police faction of the House.

He said he would meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen to discuss many things, including the Atambua killing. "We just want the world to see Indonesia in a fair way, especially with regards to the Atambua case."

According to Mahfud, the world had failed in helping East Timor form a transitional government. "They (UNTAET) have been there for almost one year, yet they have not succeeded, claiming that there are indications that many proindependence supporters have changed their mind and want to be part of Indonesia.

"It appears there are certain countries that keep their hands off but conduct intelligence operations to create the impression that Indonesia has failed to deal with the East Timorese refugees and militia."

Mahfud also said that UNTAET's failure to form a transitional government in East Timor was due to the fact that the East Timorese are not ready to govern themselves yet. "They are not ready for independence."

"We were forced to hold the voting, but we were then blamed for it. The world has treated us in an unfair manner. We followed what the world wanted but we are now blamed for that too."

Mahfud said all the points requested by the UN Security Council resolution had been fulfilled by the Indonesian government, despite the fact that the resolution had a legal defect. "It states that the Atambua attack took place on Sept. 7 when it should have been Sept. 6."

"Nothing happened in Atambua on Sept. 7. The UN only used the London-based BBC Radio reports as a basis to draft the resolution, without cross checking. That's funny, incorrect and unprofessional," he added. (swa)