/** reg.easttimor: 3619.0 **/

** Topic: NPR: Allan Nairn from Dili **
** Written 8:35 AM Sep 14, 1999 by fbp in cdp:reg.easttimor **
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

National Public Radio (NPR) ALL THINGS CONSIDERED (8:00 PM ET)

September 13, 1999, Monday



One of the few journalists remaining in East Timor is Allan Nairn, who writes for The Nation. We caught up with him in Dili today and asked him about the reaction there to news of an international peacekeeping mission.

Mr. ALLAN NAIRN (Writer, The Nation): People's main worry in Dili is that the terrors be brought to an end. The militias, which are controlled by the Indonesian army, were still on the streets today. Before sundown, you could see houses burning, public buildings being set on fire. Bodies are now being left in the streets of Dili and they're decomposing. I think some hope that maybe peacekeepers will do it. In my view, General Wiranto, the Indonesian military commander, can stop the terror in a moment if he gives the command because these militias are clearly an arm of the Indonesian military. They're under his tight control.

SIEGEL: When you say that there are houses still burning or public buildings still burning, what, if any, is the pattern to the targets of this sort of violence? Which houses, which public buildings?

Mr. NAIRN: Well, a few days ago, I was able to go out on the streets of Jakarta as the Aitarak militia was running wild and I kind ducked from one abandoned house to another. And you could see that this wasn't a general arson. This was very selective torching. The houses that are being burned are those of prominent independence activists and organizers. And the public buildings are stores, warehouses, the mainstays of daily life and economy. They even went so far as to invade the headquarters of the ICRC--International Committee of the Red Cross--lead some of the staff members out at gunpoint, take away some of the refugees hiding there to a fate that's still unknown and burn down the ICRC headquarters. And then they moved down the road and did the same with the home of Bishop Belo, the Nobel peace laureate.

SIEGEL: And there have been many reports reaching the West of violence targeted against church men and women. Why is--apart from the archbishop himself, why are Catholic clergy a target of violence of these militias?

Mr. NAIRN: Well, I think the military is sending a message to the Timorese that all taboos can now be broken, that there are no more limits. Now in this final phase, when it's clear that the Indonesian army is going to eventually have to withdraw from Timor, as a parting shot they are going after the church. Just yesterday I was told by a nun about the attack on the Convent of the Canosian Sisters in which, lined up outside the convent, they saw a uniformed Aitarak militia, a uniformed bree(ph) mob, which are the US-trained police commandos, and uniformed army infantry. And they then went in, took away the refugees and torched the convent. They're just sending the Timorese the message: You have no place left to hide. Our terror is total.

SIEGEL: You are speaking to us from Dili despite a ban--not just a general ban, but, I gather, a specific ban on your presence in East Timor. Is that correct?

Mr. NAIRN: Yes.

SIEGEL: And if so, are you concerned for your safety or for our life right now?

Mr. NAIRN: Well, I'm probably one of the safer people in Timor. Everyone of the Timorese is in a lot more trouble than I am. I have been banned from Indonesia and occupied Timor since '91, since after the Dili massacre. When I was in Indonesia this time before coming into Timor, apparently military intelligence was after me. And a foreign diplomat told me last week that the militias were looking for me. But, you know, they haven't caught me, but they've caught many East Timorese. They're the ones who have the real fear for their lives here.

SIEGEL: But they seem to have persuaded a lot of Western journalists to get out of Timor, a lot of Eastern journalists as well.

Mr. NAIRN: Well, that's true, and that's a very important point. This has been a very sophisticated operation, this army militia operation. It shows a lot of forethought and coordination. And some of it has just been naked violence against the Timorese, but another part of this has been what could be called a psychological operation against foreigners. For example, the Mahkota Hotel, where many of the journalists were staying during the election period, was--right after the election results were announced, the Aitarak went in, they went up on the roof of the hotel, they were shooting. They and the army surrounded the hotel outside. They were shooting in the air. They weren't actually shooting at any of the journalists, but it sure frightened them.

And they did the same thing around the UN compound. Up until a few nights ago, they were just firing off thousands and thousands of rounds into the air every night, automatic rifle, machine guns, they were throwing grenades into the air. I mean, it was a terrifying non-stop barrage. But, again, you know, the bullets weren't being fired into the compound by and large and the grenades weren't coming over the fence. It was just meant to frighten. And I think they really did succeed in rattling, you know, a lot of the UN people and a lot of the foreign journalists. But for Timorese, you know, this is daily life.

SIEGEL: Mr. Nairn, thank you very much for talking with us today.

Mr. NAIRN: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: Reporter Allan Nairn on the line from Dili, East Timor.


etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan John M. Miller Internet: etan-outreach@igc.apc.org Media & Outreach Coordinator, East Timor Action Network PO Box 150753, Brooklyn, NY 11215-0753 USA Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097 Web site: http://www.etan.org

Send a blank e-mail message to timor-info@igc.apc.org to find out how to learn more about East Timor on the Internet etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan

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