/** reg.easttimor: 3018.0 **/
** Topic: Indon national rights body wants deployment of UN force **
** Written 4:18 PM Sep 8, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: Indon national rights body wants deployment of UN force
Jakarta Post 9/9/99
Rights body wants deployment of UN force
JAKARTA (JP): The debate over whether to deploy international peacekeepers to East Timor continued on Wednesday, with rights advocates urging immediate action to "save lives".
The National Commission on Human Rights demanded that President B.J. Habibie immediately cancel the military state of emergency in East Timor and allow an international peacekeeping force in the territory.
"Each minute the government can save one life," commission chairman Marzuki Darusman said.
"From the commission's observations, the impression remains that the Indonesian Military still wants East Timor to be part of Indonesia," he said.
"Destruction and rights abuses continue, and they have been witnessed directly and ignored by security personnel," commission secretary-general Clementino dos Reis Amaral said.
After the commission met from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. here, Marzuki said: "If the reason against bringing in United Nations peacekeepers is to retain the dignity and pride of the nation, this is misplaced nationalism; the request to bring in the UN forces would be to protect Indonesian citizens in East Timor."
He also said the government should guarantee the safety of all refugees and "provide access to international bodies to enable them to help refugees".
The transition toward a new government in East Timor "should be speeded up", Amaral said, adding that East Timor should be the first item on the agenda of the new People's Consultative Assembly which will be installed in October.
Amaral said the rights body accepted the results of the East Timor ballot because the process was conducted in a relatively peaceful manner, despite complaints of fraud.
"The latest situation has been that of anarchy and it has reached the lowest level of human rights," Amaral said.
>From London, Reuters quoted a spokesman to Prime Minister Tony Blair as saying he was worried of East Timor's "descent into chaos", and that he was "convinced Britain should lend its full weight to efforts to persuade Indonesia to accept a UN peacekeeping force."
The news agency quoted China's deputy UN representative, Shen Guofang as saying, "We are open-minded on the suggestion that we will send a peacekeeping force to East Timor ... and we would like to have this being discussed in the council."
On his way to a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters, he stressed that "the consent and cooperation from the Indonesian government is very important, otherwise I don't think the peacekeeping mission will be successful."
AFP meanwhile quoted United States Defense Secretary William Cohen as saying Indonesia faced "serious financial consequences" if it failed to halt the violence by militia groups in East Timor, but that Washington had no plans to send in U.S. troops.
"We have to be selective where we commit our forces, and under the circumstances this is not an area where we are prepared to commit our forces," he said.
"There are a number of things that they will have to look in terms of their isolation in the international community and what would flow from that," he said.
"The United States is not planning on any insertion of peacekeeping forces," he said. "What we are doing is coordinating and talking to Australians and others who would be interested in a peacekeeping force should the Indonesian government invite such a force in and should the United States approve it," he said.
Separately, retired officers and senior activists from the National Front and the National Reform Movement demanded that Minister of Defense and Security/Indonesian Military Commander Gen. Wiranto "immediately end the killings in East Timor".
However, they also urged TNI "to avoid the presence of foreign troops, which would make the condition worse, bring more suffering to the East Timorese and shame Indonesia".
Meanwhile, Antara quoted military analyst Salim Said as saying that if martial law in East Timor continued for too long, it "could lead to civil war".
"TNI would inevitably face the prointegration groups which are dissatisfied with the ballot results," he said, adding that low-ranking East Timorese in the military "would likely support prointegration groups and together they would face the TNI".
The sooner a UN peacekeeping force is sent to the territory the better, he said, adding, however, that only Indonesia was capable of immediately calming the situation.
The news agency also quoted the secretary of the Association of Muslim Scholars (ICMI) as saying that imposing martial law in East Timor was imperative because of the "human tragedy" in the territory. Adi Sasono said ICMI accepted the ballot results, and that "even though some have said many lives were lost (for the integration of) East Timor, more lives should not be lost".
Political lecturer Cornelis Lay said it would be impossible for TNI to meet the UN's deadline of restoring security in East Timor within 48 hours, and that the UN would likely add pressure to its request to send peacekeepers to the territory.
Support for a UN peacekeeping force in East Timor is also coming from the Vatican, Reuters reported.
Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said what was going on in the former Portuguese colony "cannot be tolerated".
"The Holy See backs the efforts of the international community, in particular that of the Security Council, so that a resolution is adopted in favor of creating an international peace force," Tauran said.
French President Jacques Chirac was quoted by the news agency as saying that France would "urge the Security Council to assume all its responsibilities, as it did in Kosovo ... and the international community to mobilize in view of the intolerable acts of massive and murderous persecution," he said.
Australia's Prime Minister John Howard said, "Unless the security situation is restored to a proper level -- and there is precious little evidence to us that has occurred -- then international pressure should be applied to the Indonesian government to allow the introduction of a peacekeeping force."
But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer added, that without Indonesia's approval, "That would be a very, very difficult military conflict to get involved in, in a word -- war." (emf/anr/06/edt/23/har/44)
** End of text from cdp:reg.easttimor **