/** reg.easttimor: 2368.0 **/
** Topic: ABC:Indon police accused of participating in militia attacks **
** Written 8:51 PM Aug 31, 1999 by Joyo@AOL.COM in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: ABC:Indon police accused of participating in militia attacks
Transcript Australian Broadcasting Corporation AM New Programme Wednesday, September 1, 1999 8:00
Indonesian police accused of participating in militia attacks
COMPERE: This is AM. I'm Peter Cave. Good morning.
Indonesian police ignore militia violence in East Timor.
PAUL TOOMB: I witnessed some of them sitting around listening to music and reading newspapers. Early in the day, events that I didn't witness, because I drove into the town from another location, involved the militia threatening a United Nations helicopter and firing shots in the air when it came to collect ballot papers. And the - the account that I heard reported to me by United Nations security staff was that the Indonesian police were facing the helicopter, not facing the militia.
COMPERE: Paul Toomb, an Australian UN-accredited observer in the province.
Indonesian police in East Timor have been accused of taking off their uniforms and riding with the militias and of turning their backs while the militias fired on UN personnel trying to collect ballot papers which were accidentally scattered across a field.
On Monday the UN hailed the efforts of the police for keeping the peace during the territory's historic ballot.
Geoff Thompson reports from Dili:
GEOFF THOMPSON: 150 people in a 17-vehicle convoy drive into Dili's UNAMET headquarters after a day of being at the mercy of menacing militia in the East Timorese town of Gleno. Strained faces in car windows showed that people from all over the world now had a small taste of what a lawless place East Timor can be.
UNIDENTIFIED: There are houses being burnt still in - half a kilometre from the [inaudible] headquarters, militia road blocked until the very last moment before we were able to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED: An unusually shaped puff of smoke. We thought it might be a fire, which it turned out to be, which was a bad sign. As the risk cleared off, the United Nations helicopter came in, I suppose from Dili, by prearrangement to pick up the locked ballot boxes and start to ferry them back here to be counted. [Inaudible] we heard the sound of gunfire.
GEOFF THOMPSON: It's now emerged that that gunfire was directed at UN civilian police as they scrambled to collect ballot papers which were scattered over an open field by the UN's helicopter after a ballot box broke open. The militia in Gleno set up road blocks all around the town with the assistance of some Indonesian soldiers. The UN helicopter landed elsewhere in the town and successfully airlifted the ballot boxes back to Dili. But that was just the beginning of an all-day ordeal for the 100 international UN staff and observers who were asked to hand over 50 local staff before safe passage would be guaranteed.
After Australian UN civilian Police Commissioner Alan Mills choppered into Gleno, a deal was struck with a militia leader to let everyone in the convoy through. UNAMET spokesman David Wimhurst:
DAVID WIMHURST: We feel very, you know, concerned about the security of our local staff. But it has to be clearly understood that the force responsible for protecting people in this territory is still the Indonesian police force. So our efforts will be directed to the Indonesian police in insuring that they offer adequate protection to anybody who's under threat.
GEOFF THOMPSON: But the willingness of the police to take on the militia during this unique period in East Timor's history is again seriously in doubt. Armed Aitarak militiamen also sullenly wander the streets of Dili, seemingly beyond the jurisdiction of Indonesia's police. That dangerous reality has been agitated by an announcement from East Timor's pro-Jakarta forces. But they have withdrawn from all reconciliation negotiations, accusing the UN-monitored ballot of being part of a corrupt conspiracy to force East Timor's separation from Indonesia. Pro-Indonesia spokesman Basilio Araujo says UNAMET prevented his people from closely observing the voting process.
BASILIO ARAUJO: Unless they clarify to us their reasons, we will withdraw ourselves to participate in any further negotiations.
COMPERE: Basilio Araujo.
** End of text from cdp:reg.easttimor **