/** reg.easttimor: 3187.0 **/

** Topic: Refugees are starting to die in the mountains; New Zealand talks abo **
** Written 6:32 AM Sep 10, 1999 by gheard@surf.net.au in cdp:reg.easttimor **
From: Geoff Heard <gheard@surf.net.au>
Subject: Refugees are starting to die in the mountains; New Zealand talks about humanitarian aid.

CNRT National Council for Timorese Resistance MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release: 2230 AustralianEST, Friday 10 September 1999

Driven from their homes with only the clothes they stood up in, the refugees in the East Timorese mountains are silently starting to die.

STATEMENT BY: Joao Carrascalao Head of CNRT in Australia President of UDT (Timorese Democratic Union)

JoÔo CarrascalÔo is in Auckland for urgent talks with Heads of Government, Foreign Ministers and officials to gather support for freedom for the people of East Timor.

The second wave of Indonesian killing has begun in East Timor -- refugees driven from their home with little more than the clothes they stood up in. One of my CNRT colleagues, driven into the mountains, reported to me today that the refugees are beginning to die.

His sadness and horror showed through every word. He told how people are dying of disease -- the brutal Indonesian army has forced every doctor and most nurses, except the army butchers, out of East Timor and closed virtually every hospital and clinic. They are dying of exposure -- the Indonesians has burnt their homes and their beds.

Very soon they will be dying of hunger. The Indonesians have impounded all food, cut off their access to their gardens, and killed their farm and food animals.

They are victims of the Indonesian policy of genocide -- deliberately driven from their homes and cut off from food and medical help so they will die as surely as if they were shot or hacked to death as so many of their brothers and sisters have been.

The numbers are staggering. My colleagues reported that in his district alone, there are more than 40,000 refugees sleeping as best they can under crude shelters scratching in the earth for a few roots to eat.

All the mountain districts in East Timor have similar burdens of misery -- people who were celebrating the dawn of a new age for their country only seven days ago are now preparing for the last act of love for their country that is possible -- to die there.

The Indonesians are running a massive genocide in East Timor for the second time in less than a quarter of a century. They shot, tortured, and starved to death 200,000 East Timorese in 1976-77. They plan to nearly double that this year.

The only hope is humanitarian aid on a scale in proportion to the problem.

In Auckland today, the CNRT Vice-President, Josė Ramos Horta, and I met with the Prime Minister of new Zealand, Jenny Shipley. We also met with the Opposition Leader, Helen Clark.

It was refreshing to talk with them. They are incredibly supportive of East Timor, perhaps being fellow islanders, we share the feeling of being a small nation overshadowed by big neighbours.

Prime Minister Shipley is promising, as she has from the outset, full-blooded participation in any international force that goes into East Timor. In the meantime, she is actively exploring ways of getting humanitarian aid to the savaged and displaced East Timorese.

The news that the refugee deaths are beginning gives these discussions a sense of urgency.

The hurdle, of course, will be the Indonesian authorities. The statement today by the Indonesian Defence Minister, General Wiranto, that Indonesia is ready to accept humanitarian aid is useful -- but what does it mean?

Since General Wiranto's own soldiers attacked the Red Cross compound, slaughtered and kidnapped refugees there, and drove the Red Cross out of Dili only days ago, it is fair to question his motives.

If he is genuine, he will accept humanitarian aid on these conditions: it will be delivered directly to the East Timorese in need, without being touched by an Indonesian hand. It will be delivered without the intervention of his soldiers beyond their providing an escort through Dili, and the humanitarian agencies will be able to take their own, fully armed, contract security staff into East Timor to ensure that deliveries are made to families genuinely in need instead of his goons stealing the food to to sell on the black market?

If General Wiranto is not willing to accept those kinds of conditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid, then his offer must be seen for what it is -- empty rhetoric, laid on for the visiting United Nations Mission.

My brothers and sisters in East Timor are lying down on the damp earth to sleep tonight, with empty bellies. Some will not see tomorrow's dawn.

They need food, medicine and shelter urgently. I hope and pray genuine people like the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jenny Shipley, with the support of the Opposition Leader, Helen Clark, can find ways to get it to them.

JOAO CARRASCLAO's wife, ROSA MARIA, is lying down to sleep tonight with an empty belly. She is on hunger strike outside the United Nations Office, in York Street, Sydney, in protest over the threatened abandoning of the refugees in the UNAMET compound in Dili to the Indonesian army.

Rosa Maria's sister and her four children are among those who have sought refuge with UNAMET. The fate of her brother-in-law is not known.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Joao Carrascalao, CNRT Spokesperson in Australia. Mobile: 0418 767 101

Issued on behalf of CNRT by Geoffrey Heard & Associates, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA GH&A provides this service free to aid the suffering people of East Timor.

Geoffrey Heard GH&A Public Relations Tel: +61 3 9583 0788 Email: gheard@surf.net.au GH&A provides a free PR and information service to CNRT to support the people of East Timor in their struggle for freedom.

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