Australian Broadcasting Corp.
AM News
Monday, September 6, 1999 8:16

Medical clinic under siege

COMPERE: The latest report from the UN compound in Dili is that a Catholic clinic in the town is under attack and it appears that despite cries for help the Indonesian army is still not intervening.

Judy Lessing, a producer for Radio UNAMET, spoke to Ticky Fullerton from inside the UN compound.

JUDY LESSING: The Motaiel [phonetic] Clinic, I spoke to the doctor - Dr Michael Tyman, who I understand is an Australian - about 15 minutes ago. I'd spoken to him before about two hours ago. Some, we assume militia members, six to eight men, tried to batter down the doors of the clinic. This attack seems to continue, they must have strong doors. Inside Dr Tyman told me - and these are not the most recent figures - that he had one dead person, a newborn baby, 25 patients, other patients, two of whom were very, very close to death, and 25 terrified locals.

The Motaiel Clinic is very well known for providing very good care here in Dili. Most people prefer to go to the clinic than to go to the local hospital.

The police have been asked for on two or possibly three separate occasions, both by the clinic and by UNAMET. I went to the UNAMET Joint Ops Centre were our military and police have their headquarters, near our office, and talked to the people there. They then went to contact the TNI, the Indonesian military forces liaison unit, and that would have been about 45 minutes ago. As I say, I had a call just a few minutes ago to say that there had been no response. And I called in again and one of the local patrols was going to try to do something about getting the army, but I understand there, again, hasn't been a response.

We're doing everything we can to get people down there, but we ourselves (A) Cannot get down there and (B) Our military and police are unarmed and we're not quite sure what we could do if these people are armed - and they seem to be - but I can't confirm that they are armed.

TICKY FULLERTON: But you're still trying to get people down there. How far away is it from the UN compound?

JUDY LESSING: Oh I would say that on a clear day you could drive there in five minutes, even closer to them than us. I know - or I knew - that there was a large group of Indonesian military outside the Makota Hotel which had come under sort of attack and threat over the last two days. I saw these people as I myself was being evacuated from my house back to the compound late yesterday afternoon, so I know that the TNI is out there.

COMPERE: Judy Lessing.