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TIMOR TODAY 20/12/99

TIMOR TODAY 20/12/99

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1. Indonesia's new leader unexpectedly backs army 20/12/99 (Vancouver Sun) The evidence is building that Indonesia 's new, reformist president, Abdurrahman Wahid, is prepared to shield the country's repressive military from its past misdeeds and cater to its rampant nationalism in order to preserve the fledgling democracy . In the six weeks since the popular Muslim cleric unexpectedly became Indonesia 's first freely-selected president in over 40 years, Wahid's statements and policies show a marked shift towards favouring the military.

2. Generals, Lawyers Face Off on Timor Abuses 20/12/99 JAKARTA, Dec 17 (IPS) An independent Indonesian commission, which has made surprising headway investigating human rights abuses committed during East Timor's post-ballot violence, has come under fire from the high-ranking generals it has named as being connected with the violence. Still, the Indonesian team of lawyers has vowed to press on with their investigation. They have been receiving threats from a senior military commander who says Indonesian soldiers would be so humiliated they might run amok, if their generals were called to give evidence in a public trial.

3. Wiranto ready to clarify East Timor crisis 20/12/99 JAKARTA, (Reuters) - Indonesia's former military chief General Wiranto said he would provide information to an Indonesian inquiry into human rights issues relating to East Timor's vote for independence and its violent aftermath. "The main thing is, whether summoned or not, whether asked or not, I will give an explanation, give information to the inquiry," he told reporters on Saturday.

4. Militia boss pledges not to disband group 20/12/99 KUPANG, Indonesia, (Reuters) - A pro-Jakarta East Timor militia chief accused the Indonesian government on Friday of abandoning its own supporters, but said he would not disband his group, which is accused of terror in the territory. "If the Indonesian government believes we have tarnished its image in the international circles, then why did it recognise the militias in East Timor?" Eurico Guterres, leader of the feared Aitarak (Thorn) militia, told reporters in the West Timor capital of Kupang. "If Indonesia is not happy with the pro-integration group, we will ask for political asylum," he said.

5. Militia leader feels no guilt and takes no responsibility 20/12/99 (Agence France Presse) East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres says he feels no guilt and accepts no responsibility for the mass murders and destruction in the former Portugese territory. "I don't feel I am guilty of anything," he told the Melbourne Age newspaper, which found the deputy commander of the pro-Indonesian militia living under an assumed name in a "seedy" hotel in north Jakarta. "It's possible to question me, but I cannot take responsibility because what happened was the result of political crimes."

6. European parliament extends arms embargo against Indonesia 20/12/99 STRASBOURG, (AFP) - The European Parliament voted Thursday to prolong the EU arms embargo against Indonesia and its suspension of bilateral military cooperation. A statement from parliament said that to have done otherwise would have sent a signal to the Indonesian army that they had been rehabilitated and would have legitimised the repression they continued to exercise.

7. East Timor Gets 522 Million Dollars in Aid Pledges 20/12/99 TOKYO, (IPS) Donor countries and agencies on Friday pledged 522 million U.S. dollars for the reconstruction of devastated East Timor, but kept a low profile on the touchier issue of seeking justice for the thousands estimated killed by pro-Indonesian militia. "I am grateful for the generosity extended by the donor community, which is beyond our expectation," Xanana Gusmao, president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) and widely expected to be East Timor's first president, said as the two-day aid meeting hosted by Tokyo ended Friday.

8. Ramos-Horta to exit politics 20/12/99 (The Australian) - EAST Timor Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta has announced his intention to leave the political arena and become a journalist. He said he held no ambition to take part in the East Timorese government, which is expected to be formed within three years, but wanted to become a journalist. "I told our president Xanana Gusmao my public political involvement will not extend beyond December 2000," Ramos-Horta told journalists at a media training seminar in Dili.

9. AID WORKER TALKS ABOUT CONDITIONS AT REFUGEE CAMPS IN WEST TIMOR 20/12/99 National Public Radio (NPR) BOB EDWARDS, host: More than 200,000 East Timorese refugees still are living in camps in West Timor. The (Indonesian) government has renounced its claim to East Timor. Pamela Sexton visited the region with the aid agency Grassroots International. She says a repatriation program has been put in place, but few refugees have chosen to return home. Ms. PAMELA SEXTON (American Aid Worker): People in the camps are very afraid. People came up to me and told me that they wanted to leave the camps but that they were afraid. And they asked for my help.


a) An East Timorese woman searches for food in a garbage dump located in the outskirts of the capital Dili Friday. Japan said on Thursday it will donate $100 million to help rebuild East Timor, about one-third of the estimated amount needed to revive the shattered territory. The money will be delivered through a fund set up by the World Bank and the United Nations, Japan's chief cabinet secretary Mikio Aoki told a news conference. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

b) An East Timor Catholic prays at a small church in ruins Sunday Dec. 19, 1999 in Dili, East Timor. Dili was torched and looted by segments of the Indonesian military and anti-independence militia groups after the Aug. 30 independence vote, including this church. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)


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