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Unarmed Police Should Not Be Risked In Timor Chaos

ACT Deputy Leader Hon Ken Shirley is urging Government to reconsider its intention to deploy 15 more civilian police in East Timor at the end of this month.

Ken Shirley returned from East Timor yesterday after 10 days there as a member of the New Zealand Parliamentary delegation serving as UN Observers for the balloting process

"The 10 New Zealand police officers who also returned from East Timor over the weekend having served there for 2 months did a brilliant job and everyone I spoke to has nothing but praise for their patience, skill and courage in an extremely difficult and dangerous situation.

"The situation has changed markedly following the announcement of the ballot results which overwhelming supported independence. We have pro Indonesian militia embarked on a murderous rampage conducted and even supported by the very large number of heavily armed Indonesian troops and police who do nothing to stop the mayhem.

"This is no longer a job for unarmed foreign civilian police and New Zealanders lives would be placed under unnecessary risk with little chance of success under the prevailing circumstances, said Ken Shirley.

"If the Indonesian authorities, who are responsible for security, refuse to act and continue to condone the violence then a UN peacemaking force will be required. If the Indonesian support for the militia could be neutralized then I have no doubt that a well equipped and armed international force could subdue and disarm the terrorists thereby restoring order to the point where armed civilian police might be deployed".

"It is my intention to brief Foreign Affairs Minister Don McKinnon this week to urge both him and the Police Minister to withhold the deployment of unarmed police until order is restored," said Ken Shirley.


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