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Security Council Mission To Jakarta And Dili

Report Of The Security Council Mission To Jakarta And Dili

This is the report which triggered the resolution on sending a multinational force to Bumi Lorosae (East Timor).


14 September 1999



8 TO 12 SEPTEMBER 1999


1. The Security Council Mission dispatched to Jakarta and Dili from 8 to 12 September 1999 was entrusted with the task of discussing with the Government of Indonesia concrete steps for the peaceful implementation of the 5 May Agreement (S/1999/513). The Mission was to welcome the undertaking by the Government of Indonesia to fulfil its obligations under the 5 May Agreement, but to note that the Government's efforts so far had not been able to prevent an intensification of violence in the Territory. It was to state its particular concern at the recent campaign of violence against the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) and urge the Government to ensure security and to allow UNAMET to implement its mandate without hindrance. The Mission was asked to stress that the people of East Timor had made a clear choice in favour of independence, that their will must be respected and that the international community looked forward to working with the Government of Indonesia in bringing East Timor to independence.


The Mission was composed of the following members: Ambassador Martin Andjaba (Namibia), Head of mission Ambassador Hasmy Agam (Malaysia) Minister Alphons Hamer (Netherlands) Ambassador Danilo Türk (Slovenia) Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) Mr. Francesc Vendrell (United Nations Secretariat), Deputy Personal Representative of the Secretary-General


3. Briefing by United Nations and UNAMET staff (8 September). In the briefings, staff described unequivocally the deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation in East Timor since the announcement of the result of the ballot, in contrast with the attempt by the Indonesian authorities to give a reassuring account. This and other briefings left the Mission in no doubt that large elements in the military and police authorities had been complicit in organizing and supporting the action of the militias.

4. Meeting with Foreign Minister Alatas (8 September). The Mission conveyed to Foreign Minister Alatas the grave concern of the Security Council over the current situation in East Timor and expressed its wish to work with the Government in a spirit of pragmatism and cooperation to address the security and humanitarian situation. The Mission emphasized the need to ensure that UNAMET and international relief organizations would be allowed to return to East Timor and carry out their functions fully. A final withdrawal of UNAMET would send a very bad signal of the failure of the Government to stabilize the situation. Foreign Minister Alatas expressed Indonesia's shared concern over the crisis in East Timor, but insisted that while the Government would welcome any assistance in providing humanitarian relief, it would not contemplate any foreign military presence in East Timor before the Indonesian Parliament met and addressed the outcome of the popular consultation. Until then, Indonesia should be allowed to resolve the security situation. The Mission stressed that if the situation were to continue deteriorating while the Government did not accept the offer of help from the international community, Indonesia would be subjected to severe international criticism.

5. Meetings with the Jakarta diplomatic corps (8 and 10 September). The Mission discussed the current situation in East Timor with Jakarta-based ambassadors. A number of ambassadors firmly underscored the complicity by the Indonesian military and police in the actions of the militia and described a coordinated campaign to rid the Territory of all foreign presence. Concerns were also expressed that the Government no longer had control over the military, at least with respect to the situation in East Timor, where the military was wilfully contradicting the policy of the Government. The ambassadors strongly supported the idea of the visit of the Mission to East Timor. They expressed doubts that the Government would agree to cooperate with an international security force in East Timor. Following the Mission's visit to East Timor, the ambassadors were briefed on the Mission's findings.

6. Meeting with Madam Megawati Soekarnoputri (8 September). The Mission explained its objectives and asked Madam Megawati to refrain from treating any emerging willingness of the Government of Indonesia to accept an international security presence as a stick with which to beat the Government. She agreed, but declined to make a public statement in support of the idea of international intervention. She criticized President Habibie strongly for agreeing to the 5 May Agreement process when, as she alleged, his legitimacy as leader of Indonesia was fading away. The Mission declined to enter into the domestic political aspects.

7. Meetings with Mr. Xanana Gusmao (9 and 12 September). Mr. Gusmao appealed in the strongest terms to the Mission to act immediately to save lives in East Timor. He stated categorically that East Timor was not in a state of civil war; rather, it was suffering what amounted to a campaign by the military to exterminate East Timorese and lay waste to its cities, possibly with the intent to partition the Territory. He reported that 12 battalions of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) had entered the Territory from West Timor, and stated that, should that "invasion" reach the westernmost of Falintil's four cantonment sites, Falintil would have no choice but to defend itself. There were currently thousands of internally displaced persons seeking refuge at the cantonment sites. Following the Mission's visit to Dili, representatives of the Mission called upon Mr. Gusmao to brief him on the situation on the ground. When it became evident that the Government was about to announce its willingness to cooperate with the international community, Mr. Gusmao was encouraged to issue a statement in measured and conciliatory terms.

8. Meeting with President Habibie (9 September). The Mission conveyed to the President that the situation in East Timor had gone far beyond the acceptable and asked him to consider the offer of assistance from the international community. President Habibie rejected any foreign military presence before the Indonesian Parliament had acted on the consultation result. He said that would send the wrong signal to Indonesians regarding the military and risk the Balkanization of Indonesia. The Mission underlined the fundamental point that the degree of confidence which the Security Council would have in Indonesian actions would be directly related to the extent to which UNAMET could deploy and operate normally. The President agreed that it was essential to keep UNAMET in East Timor and maintained that security for the UNAMET compound would be redoubled and its water and food needs met. The Mission reached agreement with the President that it would travel to Dili, both to assess the situation first-hand and to show its support to UNAMET. On preparations for phase III, the Mission suggested that bringing forward the preparation of the security element of the United Nations share of the responsibility for the Territory would be a way of contributing to the maintenance of security in phase II. President Habibie rejected the idea.

9. Meeting with Defence Minister General Wiranto and the General Staff (9 September). While acknowledging that there were problems in East Timor, General Wiranto stated that TNI was committed to handling the situation, however complex. After the results of the balloting were announced, the pro-integration group, concerned about what it considered to be biased behaviour on the part of UNAMET staff, had erupted into violence. A further complication was that a substantial number of the police and military in East Timor were local East Timorese and were thus, in his words, "understandably" against independence. Linguistic and cultural differences, coupled with the size of the territory, had made the work of TNI more difficult. General Wiranto had full confidence that martial law would allow his forces to stabilize the situation and begin to tend to the needs of the refugees. In his view, pro-integration anger at UNAMET was so high that the situation would only deteriorate further if United Nations troops were brought in at the current stage. The Mission contested his analysis throughout and pointed to the lack of political will on the part of the Government. News reports received during the meeting, telling of violence against the UNAMET compound, graphically illustrated the General's misplaced confidence.

10. Meeting with Indonesian NGO representatives (10 September). A group of Indonesian NGO leaders met with two members of the Mission to convey their concerns and discuss the situation in East Timor. The group presented a joint statement signed by 15 NGOs calling for: immediate Security Council meetings to decide on the dispatch of a peacekeeping force to East Timor; concrete steps by the Government to stop the violence in East Timor by complying with the 5 May Agreement and arresting militias; and the immediate lifting of the martial law in East Timor by the Government of Indonesia.

11. Visit to Dili (11 September). The Mission had highly useful meetings with local military commanders, toured the town and visited the UNAMET compound. It also met with Bishop Nasciemento. While there were no security incidents during the period of the visit, the Mission was left with a strong sense of shock at the destruction which had taken place, concern at UNAMET's severe loss of confidence in the security provided by the local forces and distress at the desperate state of the displaced population. A large media party represented this to the outside world. During the course of the visit, it became clear that General Wiranto's views had also undergone a change.

12. President Habibie's press statement and the Mission's visit with the President (12 September). Shortly before a scheduled visit with the Mission, President Habibie announced to the press that while the Indonesian defence forces had done their utmost under very difficult and complex circumstances to stabilize the situation in East Timor, they had had to recognize that there were limits to what they could further achieve. He had therefore informed the Secretary-General of Indonesia's readiness to unconditionally "accept international peacekeeping forces through the United Nations from friendly nations to restore peace and security in East Timor, to protect the people and to implement the results of the direct ballot of 30 August 1999". Foreign Minister Alatas would travel to New York to prepare for the implementation of the cooperative effort between the United Nations and the Government of Indonesia.

13. During the subsequent meeting with the Mission, the President expressed his Government's willingness to allow for evacuation to Australia of the internally displaced persons in the UNAMET compound; to facilitate air drops of food and other necessities to other internally displaced persons in the hills; as well as to ensure that Falintil would not come under attack by the militias.


14. Reports by the Secretary-General to the Security Council during phase I of the popular consultation described the impunity with which pro-autonomy militias were allowed to carry out violent activity. It was apparent to the Mission, through its own observation and through discussion with United Nations staff, that this activity could not have occurred without the involvement of large elements of the Indonesian military and police. Briefings by UNAMET staff in Jakarta and Dili described how, during post-consultation violence which forced the closure of UNAMET's regional offices, there were clear instances when police and TNI forces stood aside to allow militias into towns to conduct organized and coordinated campaigns of arson and terror. One aim of this was to rid the Territory of any international presence, including UNAMET, humanitarian workers and the media, thereby limiting outside observation. Another was to implement a coordinated, forced relocation programme in which tens of thousands of East Timorese have been moved to West Timor. There were consistent reports of the direct involvement of large elements of TNI and the police in this forced relocation campaign. The organized and coordinated nature of this campaign, the Territory-wide effort to force out UNAMET and other international presences and the lack of adequate response to militia violence despite the overwhelming superiority of TNI and the police all support the view that militia activities were organized and supported by parts of TNI.

15. There was clearly a disconnect between the situation on the ground and the assessment of the situation in East Timor as presented by President Habibie and his senior advisers. They described the post-ballot violence as stemming from disgruntled pro-autonomy supporters angry at perceived UNAMET bias, with the Indonesian military struggling to resolve the latest expression of long-standing strife between East Timorese. However, as outlined above, the widespread destruction on the ground was the result neither of popular sentiment nor of civil war. Rather, there were clear signs that the evidence could, as many UNAMET staff described it, be "switched on and off". During its 11 September meeting with Defence Minister General Wiranto, the Mission received word that militias were at that very moment attempting to loot vehicles from the UNAMET compound. When General Wiranto had his staff check on the situation, he was apparently told at first that the situation at the compound was normal, despite the seriousness of the actual circumstances. The Mission had the distinct impression that when the General travelled to Dili along with the Mission and toured the city, he had not been prepared for the extent of the destruction. Accurate first-hand information as to the situation on the ground may well have contributed to the change in Government policy.

16. It was clear to the Mission that martial law, implemented on 7 September, had not succeeded in stabilizing the situation. In Dili, there appeared little left for the militias to loot by the time of the arrival of the Mission on 11 September. Despite assurances by the authorities that UNAMET's security would be a prime objective of martial law, on 10 September, Aitarak militia were allowed freely past TNI and police checkpoints into the environs of the UNAMET compound.


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