Mon, 09 Oct 2000

RI has adequate 'ammunition' to face UN on Timor

ATAMBUA (JP): The Indonesian government is set to answer the international community's doubts over the security situation here thanks to the significant improvement in handling the problems of East Timor refugees and pro-integration militias, Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab said here on Sunday.

During a half-day visit along with Minister of Defense Mahfud M.D. to a refugee camp here, Alwi told reporters that he has adequate "ammunition" to convince the United Nations Security Council at its meeting this week that Jakarta is capable of handling the situation in East Nusa Tenggara, particularly Atambua, which is located very close to newly-independent East Timor.

"I've enough ammunition to convince the UN that what they have been saying about Indonesia being unable to control the situation is incorrect," Alwi said, referring to the substantial progress made by both local and central authorities in dealing with security, law enforcement, the refugees and former pro-Jakarta militias.

Indonesia, he explained, might invite a UN delegation to directly observe the real condition of the East Timor refugees in the camps in Atambua on condition that the delegation would not try to interfere in the affairs of the Indonesian government.

"The team that we would like to see come would not be just from the UN but also from several donor countries to help enhance the resettlement and repatriation program for the refugees," Alwi added.

Alwi also stated that Indonesia would deny any allegations made by the United Nations and other members of the international community about security conditions in the refugee camps and the pro-Jakarta militia by taking concrete measures.

"We want to deny all those (accusations) ... I'm here to see with my own eyes so if there is someone saying that people are afraid to walk about in the refugee camps, I'll say that that's incorrect," the minister said.

Indonesia has been under close scrutiny by the international community following the attack on the UN High Commission for Refugees office in Atambua on Sept. 6, which resulted in the deaths of three humanitarian workers.

Alwi is expected to brief the Security Council during its two- day meeting in New York starting Wednesday over the latest situation and the efforts already made by the Indonesian authorities.

At the meeting, Alwi said he would tell the Council about the groundless reports published by several foreign media over the latest situation here.

Minister Mahfud echoed Alwi, saying that the Indonesian government has tried seriously to handle the refugees and the militias, and, especially, to solve the Sept. 6 Attambua incident.

"On Sunday, the police reenacted the Attambua killing. So, the international community must see that we have been legally processing the case and they have to be patient because the legal process takes time," he said.

Mahfud underlined that the resettlement program would be started within a week and the registration program for the remaining refugees would commence within days.

Udayana Regional Commander Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri said that so far the security forces had managed to confiscate 73 standard military rifles, around 11,000 homemade rifles, 52 grenades, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

During the visit of the two ministers, several leaders of the East Timor Warriors (UNTAS) delivered their demands through their secretary general Filemino Hornay.

They, for instance, asked Jakarta to facilitate reconciliation with all factions in East Timor and demanded security for those who wanted to go back to East Timor.

Filemino said UNTAS would guarantee that there would be no more riots along the border or in the refugee camps should the central government guarantee their future and respect their past efforts to defend Indonesia during the East Timor mayhem.

In response, Mahfud promised that Indonesia would treat them as humanely and would not forget their previous struggle.

"But if you really love Indonesia, you should follow the political line of the government and once again defend your country by improving its tarnished image in front of the international community," Mahfud said. (dja)