/** reg.easttimor: 2808.0 **/
** Topic: Guardian in Dili:"There is no help: We are all going to die" **
** Written 10:59 PM Sep 6, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: Guardian in Dili:"There is no help: We are all going to die"
The Guardian [UK] Tuesday September 7, 1999
'There is no help... in the next three days we are all going to die'
John Aglionby in Bali and John Martinkus in Dili
The Indonesian army replaced the militia gangs opposing independence for East Timor as the main terrorising force in the capital Dili yesterday as anarchy continued unabated throughout the territory.
Government soldiers were seen herding people into camps, blockading roads and encouraging the militia to continue destroying the city and forcing out the few remaining foreigners. They shot anyone who refused to leave and set fire to their homes.
Carlos Belo, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Dili and 1996 Nobel peace laureate, was compelled to flee his home when militiamen besieged it and set it alight. East Timor's spiritual leader was forcibly evacuated by police helicopter to Baucau, 60 miles to the east.
The several thousand refugees sheltering in the grounds of his home were reportedly marched on to troop landing ships. Their fate is unknown, as is that of the 6,000 people who were hiding in the neighbouring compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
One column of 2,000 women and children was seen being marched to an unknown destination by soldiers armed with machine guns who kicked and hit stragglers with their guns.
The 11 foreign ICRC members were among those who were evacuated on three Australian Hercules transport planes to Darwin, Australia, yesterday. More than 150 non-essential United Nations personnel joined the evacuation, having helped organise last Monday's referendum in which 78.5% of voters chose to sever ties with Indonesia after 24 years of armed occupation.
Australia's ambassador to Jakarta, John McCarthy, was shot at while escorting foreign evacuees to the airport and the Australian consulate also came under fire.
East Timorese screamed at the passing vehicles, imploring the foreigners to remain. They fear that without foreign monitors the atrocities will escalate. "No one is prepared to stop the Indonesian army," said a priest at Dili's Motael church. "There is no help from outside. So in the next three days we are all going to die."
One escaping UN worker from New Zealand described the night she spent in the pro-independence suburb of Becora. "All night they came back, Indonesian soldiers driving up and down the street, shooting, firing rocket-propelled grenades, bazookas, and talking through a loudspeaker telling those who were still there to evacuate."
Filipino doctors said they had treated about 300 people, many with gunshot wounds. "The militia carry only home-made guns and machetes but later we saw that the people we were treating had been shot with Armalites (automatic assault rifles). That's how we knew that the military was the one shooting them and no longer the militia," their spokesman said.
Indonesia yesterday attempted to cast blame for the violence on the UN's alleged improper handling of the independence referendum. Loyalist political organisations say none of their nominations was chosen as UN local staff, that the ballot-day procedures were ignored and that many local UN employees told people to vote for independence. The UN has denied all the allegations.
Ever since polling on August 30, the militias, with help from the security forces, have steadily escalated an already vicious eight-month campaign of intimidation. In the last five days the former Portuguese colony has become lawless.
Casualty figures are impossible to calculate accurately but tales of horrific massacres of hundreds of people across the territory are mounting daily. There were unconfirmed reports of mutilated bodies lying on the sides of roads. "I've been told they could count at least 145 dead bodies on the outskirts of Dili," said Alfredo Ferreira, the National Council for Timorese Resistance representative in Darwin.
Joao Carrascalao, the most senior East Timorese resistance officer in Australia, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio: "One person who travelled from Dili to Atambua reported that alongside the road there were hundreds of heads on sticks and bodies everywhere."
There were further reports of 100 dead in the south-western town of Suai where 7,500 refugees were camping.
Figures of those attempting to escape the territory also rose steadily, with about 150,000 thought to have fled. The Red Cross estimated that people were fleeing to neighbouring West Timor at the rate of 1,000 an hour.
Meanwhile, UN personnel were "trapped like rats" in their Dili compound, as one official put it. Inside the compound, gunfire rang out last night no more than 50 meters away, as roughly 100 UN staff and journalists remained holed up by soldiers.
The few civilian police that tried to patrol were promptly harried back to their base, more often by soldiers than by militia. "It is clear the militia are working in connivance with the Indonesian army and police," UN spokesman David Wimhurst said. He said at least 5,000 people were corralled into the teachers' college next to the UN compound.
The situation in the UN compound was tense but calm. More than 1,300 refugees were still sheltering in the auditorium where the last peace accord was announced on August 30.
Eastern districts of the territory are not as badly affected, although that may soon change. "Our observers in Baucau say they are hearing more and more shooting every day," said the International Federation of East Timor spokesman Curt Gabrielson. "However in the last day there has been a massive landing of soldiers, who are now thought to be heading for Viqueque and Los Palos."
There are also many reports that two further battalions are massing on the border with West Timor, ready to cross over whenever ordered.
"It is going to be worse than 1975 unless we get help, and get it quickly," the pro-independence leader Leandro Isaac said, alluding to the first three years of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, from 1975-78, when more than 200,000 were killed.
Reports also reached Dili yesterday that soldiers and militiamen are massing near the four cantonment sites of the pro-independence Falintil guerrillas in a bid to provoke the armed separatists to start a full-scale civil war.
** End of text from cdp:reg.easttimor **