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All Indonesian troops must be withdrawn from ET

15 September 1999


TAPOL has warned the UN Secretary-General that the UN's failure to insist on the removal of Indonesian troops from East Timor as part of the rules of engagement of the international Peace-Keeping Force for East Timor will mean a repeat of the disastrous decision by the UN to allow Indonesian troops to remain in the territory during the months leading up to the referendum on 30 August.

In a letter to Kofi Annan sent hours before the Security Council adopted a resolution mandating an multilateral force to enter East Timor within the next few days, TAPOL's director, Carmel Budiardjo warned that the continued presence of the troops would destroy the confidence of the population in the peace-keepers and could be fatal to its operations. There are estimated to be 20,000 Indonesian troops still stationed in East Timor, including territorial troops and special forces.

The 15,000 territorial troops are based in every town and village and are the eyes and ears of the military intelligence. Their continued presence cannot be tolerated.

Budiardjo said: It is inconceivable, particularly after what has happened in East Timor in the past few days , that the hundreds of thousands of displaced East Timorese would want to return to their villages or towns if these soldiers remain.

In its letter to Kofi Annan, TAPOL stressed that it was critically important for all the special troops sent to East Timor in the past few weeks to be withdrawn immediately. They include special air force commandos, marines and special troops from the army's strategic command, KOSTRAD, whose primary task has been to take charge of the forced relocation of East Timorese by land, sea and air to West Timor and to other parts of Indonesia. There are also many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Kopassus crack troops who have for months been mingling with the militias in their murderous operations against the population.

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Paragraph 5 of today's Security Council resolution provides for 'Indonesia's continuing responsibility' for security as stipulated in the UN-sponsored 5 May accords. These accords made no provision for Indonesian soldiers to leave East Timor and they could now remain there for several months more.

TAPOL also said it would be an intolerable anomaly if martial law which was declared by the Indonesian authorities on 7 September was to remain in place. Martial law vests a range of special powers in the hands of the Indonesian army.

Describing the structure of the territorial army, TAPOL said that all troops stationed in villages and sub-district towns should be immediately withdrawn to barracks for their early removal from East Timor. 'The possibility that these soldiers will harass the population is very real and their continued presence could seriously undermine the effectiveness of any security measures undertaken by the Peace-Keeping Force,' the letter warned.

For further information and interviews, contact Carmel Budiardjo 0181 771-2904 day and evening.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign
111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath,
Surrey CR7 8HW, UK
Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322
email: tapol@gn.apc.org
Internet: www.gn.apc.org/tapol
Campaigning to expose human rights violations in
Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh
25 years - and still going strong


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