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West Timor Militia Attack - Peace Brigates Intl.

West Timor Militia Attack

Peace Brigades International - Indonesia and East Timor Project

Emergency Response Network

8 September 2000

Summary:

According to UNHCR reports, militias have culminated an escalating campaign of intimidation against East Timorese refugees and against international humanitarian aid workers, by killing 3 UN employees this week. More than 100,000 refugees from East Timor remain in West Timor because of a complicated mix of intimidation, misinformation, and fear of return. PBI has been accompanying Indonesian NGOs who have been working with refugees. These groups are facing increased pressure as a result of the increasing tension throughout West Timor. This is a result of the Indonesian governments failure to remove the militia elements from genuine refugees in the refugee camps, something that the UNHCR has repeatedly asked for. PBI calls on the Indonesian government to ensure the protection of the refugees and humanitarian workers.

Background:

West Timor Militia Attack

According to the CNN, Pro integration militia leader Olivio Mendoza Maruk was found dead and mutilated near the East Timor border on September 5. The murdered militia leader is one of 19 people that the government of Indonesia formally declared as suspects in an investigation into the bloodshed that erupted after the August 30 vote last year. He is reported to have been the one in charge of the massacre in Suai last year that killed three priests and many people sheltered in a church there.

According to the UNHCR, that the September 5 murder may have angered other militia, and a reported mob of 3000 to 5000 militia/refugees attacked the IOM (International Organization for Migration) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) offices in Atambua. Three members of the UNHCR, identified as Ethiopian Samson Aregahegn, Carlos Caceres-Collazo, an American from Puerto Rico, and Bosnian Pero Simundza were stabbed and beaten to death and burned outside the UNHCR building. This building is located next to both the Police and TNI offices in Atambua, who apparently failed to stop the attack.

According to UNHCR sources, the militia may be moving from Atambua to Kupang, searching for foreigners or local NGO workers who have been helping refugees. PBI IETP is concerned that the immediate evacuation of foreign staff will escalate the danger towards local human rights defenders and the staff in the NGO's they have been accompanying. At this point, it is dangerous to be seen as having had involvement with the refugees or with foreign NGO's, and they may be at risk of harassment and threats of violence to discontinue their local human rights work. According to CNN and UN sources, militias in West Timor killed twenty people on Thursday, the day after the three U.N. international aid workers were killed.

PBI, an independent, non-governmental organization founded in 1981, actively works to promote human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution. Upon the request of Indonesian and East Timorese human rights groups, our team has been providing conflict resolution training and protective accompaniment to local NGO's that work with the East Timorese refugees in West Timor. These NGO's provide humanitarian services and advocacy for the refugees.

* Recommended Action:

Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail letters in English, Bahasa Indonesia or your own language, calling for the protection of local and international human rights workers.

* who to send them to:

Minister of Defence - Bpk. Mahfud Mahmodin, Menteri Pertahanan dan Keamanan, Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No.13-14, Jakarta Pusat 10110, Indonesia. Fax: + 62 21 381 4535 or + 62 21 384 5178. Salutation: Dear Minister

Commander of TNI (Armed Forces) - Admiral Widodo Adisucipto, Panglima TNI, Markas Besar TNI, Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No 13, Jakarta Pusat, Indonesia. Fax: +62 21 380 6711/ +62 21 36 1471/+62 21 37 8144 /+62 21 35 6404. Salutation: Dear Admiral.

Please also write to Indonesian government representatives in your country (see top of this message). Please send these appeals immediately.

Sample letter:

Dear,

I am writing as a (nationality) ______ citizen to express my concern for the well being and safety of refugees and humanitarian and human rights organizations assisting them, in West Timor. As you are well aware, the security situation for East Timorese refugees and the groups that assist them, has deteriorated.

More than 100,000 refugees face a daunting challenge with the withdrawal of international and Indonesian NGOs who are providing humanitarian assistance and human rights programs.

The people of Indonesia deserve freedom from fear and guarantees of security from their own police, intelligence, and military. I trust that strong steps will be taken to disarm and disband the militias and that the needs of refugees, and local Indonesians will be met and honored.

I would welcome a reply. Sincerely, (your name)

Peace Brigades International - Indonesia and East Timor Project

__________________

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Peace Movement Aotearoa
the national networking peace group
PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand.
tel +64 4 382 8129, fax 382 8173,
website < http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/>
Internet Peace Gateway
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

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