/** reg.easttimor: 2800.0 **/

** Topic: Indon replacing E.Timorese with pro-autonomy W.Timorese **
** Written 9:56 PM Sep 6, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: Indon replacing E.Timorese with pro-autonomy W.Timorese

Australian Broadcasting Corp. The World Today Tuesday, September 7, 1999 12:16

Indonesia replacing E. Timorese with pro-autonomy W.Timorese

PM says Indonesia is on its last chance in East Timor

COMPERE: Our reporter in Darwin, Rafael Epstein, has been in contact with more people on the ground in East Timor.

Rafael, you spoke apparently to a contact who had been having a phone conversation with Archbishop Belo as the militia attacked his home. What did they have to say?

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The source here was speaking to the Bishop right as the militias were shooting over the heads of hundreds of people in his compound. Those people are of course the ones who are being trucked away to West Timor. He said to this person, 'Can you hear the screaming?'; that there was nothing he could do to stop the screaming; that there was nothing he could do to protect them. He then had to cut the conversation short. He said the militia were trying to come and get him and that someone was approaching, and he then hung up.

COMPERE: Now no matter what is being said, it would appear from the evidence we're receiving from on the ground there that there is a grand plan under way and that is to move people out of East Timor, supplanting them with people who are willing to support integration with Indonesia. You've had more reports of dreadful atrocities on the ground at the West Timor border where a lot of those refugees are heading. What have you been hearing?

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Well we heard a small story yesterday when the people came off the plane, about one of the roads that those roads that those people will be trucked through from Maliana in the east to Atamboa in the west. Now the person I'm speaking to here has been in contact with someone on the West Timor side of that road. The story is pretty terrible. Apparently there are heads that have been beaten and bruised and placed on stakes on that road. Some have the word independence carved on their forehead. Now this source hasn't been able to travel far down that road but he did say that there were no militia in the area. The only pro-Jakarta forces that he had seen in the area were Indonesian military.

COMPERE: And both the Australian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister say Indonesia is on its last chance today. At 3am this morning Australian eastern time, Indonesia says it implemented what Jakarta is calling military emergency status on East Timor. Judging by the reports we've just been listening to from Dili, it hasn't yet had an impact on curtailing militia operations across the province.

COMPERE: Well several brigades of Australian troops remain on 24-hour movement alert. Our reporter in Darwin, Rafael Epstein, has been speaking to ADF people this morning.

Now for security reasons, we can't go into precise detail, I guess, or we don't know the precise detail but, as you understand it, what preparations have the ADF, the Australian military forces, been preparing for?

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Well as the Defence Minister said the other day, a substantial amount of military hardware. Just bear with me as I give you a brief list. There are seven ships here; 2 US destroyers, the Mobile Bay and the O'Brien; 2 Australian frigates, the Darwin and the ANZAC as well as the supply ships, the Success and the Tobruk. Those last two are important because they can refuel the 15 army Black Hawk helicopters, and those helicopters of course can get to Timor in around three hours.

As well as that there's the two and a half thousand strong First Brigade in Darwin. They have been on half-hour alert is my understanding for at least a week. There's elements of special forces from Perth at the RAAF base in Tindal together with troops from Sydney and, of course, there's always the natural complement down there of RAAF F-18s.

COMPERE: So we're looking at two brigade strength, I guess, about 2,000 plus other forces unspecified. What about evacuation flights today. Are the C-130 Hercules travelling between Darwin and Timor to keep bringing people out?

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Yes, I think they went back to the Tindal air base last night. They've left. We are not able to, they haven't told us how many actual flights there are. Yesterday there were three RAAF Hercules and one United Nations Hercules, combining for six flights. We understand there will be slightly less of that today. We also hear reports that they are going to be picking people up from Becau [phonetic] which is east of Dili as well.

COMPERE: Which is where? I was going to say that is where the Bishop is. Bishop Belo has gone to Becau.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Well that's what the reports are. I'm not sure how concerned they are. That's what people have been hearing, yes, and those flights are due back mid-afternoon.

COMPERE: We've heard here that it's likely that Xanana Gusmao, the Independence resistance leader, will be released by the Indonesian authorities this afternoon. Has there been any talk amongst the East Timorese community which is a very big one, the biggest in Australia there, in Darwin, that you've heard about whether it's likely that Xanana Gusmao may come to Australia.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: It's certainly the closest East Timorese community. I think there are actually more in Melbourne. But they are actually quite excited about the prospect, but of course nervous. They'd obviously much rather him be able to go to Dili and stay in Dili. But of course they don't want him to go to Dili anymore. They say it's too dangerous there. I've tried to find out if any security arrangements are being made for him to come to Darwin and haven't been very successful.

COMPERE: Rafael Epstein, keeping us up to date on the developments, the major developments there, with the Australian Defence Forces in Darwin.

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