/** reg.easttimor: 3229.0 **/

** Topic: UN fails to agree on human rights inquiry for East Timor **
** Written 10:29 PM Sep 24, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: UN fails to agree on human rights inquiry for East Timor

Australian Broadcasting Corp. AM News Saturday, September 25, 1999 8:00

UN fails to agree on human rights inquiry for East Timor

COMPERE: A special session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has failed to reach agreement on plans for an international inquiry into human rights abuses in East Timor. The meeting in Geneva was to consider a resolution calling for an international inquiry put forward by the European Union, but the motion has come under strong opposition from Asian, Latin American and Arab nations.

As our Europe correspondent Michael Brissenden reports, the EU now says it will bring a revised resolution back to the negotiating table on Monday.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: As the special session got under way for a second day, the delegates of the 53 member nations that make up the commission heard impassioned pleas from the Bishop of East Timor, Carlos Belo, and the Nobel prizewinning East Timorese resistance figure Jose Ramos-Horta. Carlos Belo urged the commission to support the resolution to establish an international inquiry to examine the crimes against innocent people and those who fought to maintain their historical, religious and cultural identity.

CARLOS BELO: We deplore that in the end of this century when we have just celebrated the 50th anniversary of human rights declaration, these abuses are still happening in our homeland in East Timor. For your attention that they will cooperate to establish this international commission of inquiry - the crimes in East Timor, I and my colleague, Bishop Nassimento, and the Catholic community and people of East Timor, we thank you very much and we hope that you will come to help us.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Jose Ramos-Horta's language was less diplomatic.

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: If the commission of human rights fails to adopt a strong resolution only at least minimum for an international commission of investigation into the alleged war crimes, the crimes against humanity in East Timor, it would do a disservice to the democracy movement in Indonesia, to the struggle for rule-of-law human rights in Indonesia because democracy in Indonesia, rule of law is becoming under threat by the same people who have directed violence in East Timor. This commission runs the risk of become a mockery of the international community.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But the personal pleas by two of the most senior East Timorese public figures failed to sway the many Asian, Latin American, African and Arab nations who backed Indonesia.

Behind the scenes the lobbying has obviously been intense. Indonesia has stated that it wants to send its own team to investigate the question of atrocities alone. The Asians and many Third World countries clearly view the European Union's resolution as an unnecessary intrusion, and some are extremely worried about the precedent it might set. They support Indonesian assertion that such an inquiry would only increase the tension and make reconciliation more difficult. Many also objected to the way the meeting was called after a disputed narrow vote earlier in the week. Special sessions are extremely rare and require a majority in favour. This one was only approved after a postal vote from Rwanda came in in support.

In the end the EU simply couldn't get its resolution up. The European Union, backed by the US and Australia, wanted a thorough examination of the facts, headed by an independent international panel of experts. It will now come back with a much weaker revised plan that will propose a panel of friendly Asian experts join an Indonesian inquiry. It seems that's as far as the United Nations commission will go. It's not an outcome that will please the East Timorese. Michael Brissenden, Brussels.

** End of text from cdp:reg.easttimor **