/** reg.easttimor: 2887.0 **/

** Topic: ABC transcript: Horrific reports from E.Timor evacuees **
** Written 8:23 PM Sep 7, 1999 by Joyo@aol.com in cdp:reg.easttimor **
Subject: ABC transcript: Horrific reports from E.Timor evacuees

Australian Broadcasting Corp. AM News Wednesday, September 8, 1999 8:17

Horrific reports from East Timor evacuees

[also includes Eyewitness account from East Timor]

COMPERE: The latest people to flee the province say the Indonesian military, police and militia are on a rampage, burning buildings and looting houses, with snipers shooting into the streets. The UN compound in Dili is coming under heavy fire and observers say, with the imposition of martial law yesterday, thousands of troops are pouring into areas like Bacau only making the situation worse.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: More evacuees flow into Darwin with the same terrible stories. Photographer Steve Tickner left the UN compound late yesterday afternoon, the only passenger on the last flight out. Indonesian military in Dili and Bacau are refusing to let the planes take off if local Timorese UN staff are onboard.

STEVE TICKNER: There was a lot of activity in town. Parts of Dili were burning. There were heavy explosions. We heard rumours that the militia were torching buildings but had become bored with that and then started blowing them up. We saw, I saw TNI soldiers looting in the streets. There's basically it was a scene of anarchy. There were refugees fleeing. There were displaced people everywhere.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Steve Tickner says the United Nations compound is regularly coming under heavy fire. As well snipers are in several buildings as the militias roam the streets.

STEVE TICKNER: And as I walked into a classroom and went to one of the windows to observe the situation, three very heavy calibre rounds hit the building just below where I, the window ledge where I was standing. So I believe that they were targeting me deliberately, having realised that I was a photographer who was sending photographs out of their activities and the situation inside.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Those from Bacau and Dili, like Susan Mackley an unofficial observer, say the imposition of martial law yesterday only made the situation worse.

SUSAN MACKLEY: The East Timorese are getting slaughtered. There's no one there to protect them. They have nothing. And there's no one keeping the Indonesian military in check and they just keep bringing them in by the thousands. The more military, each night we saw them unloading in Bacau. It can't continue.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Steve Tickner says the militia are cowards, trying to provoke the United Nations who are besieged in their own compound.

STEVE TICKNER: I believe that, if the militia realises, I believe that they are increasing the pressure and increasing the firing at and towards the refugees in a way to provoke the UN into bringing out any weapons that they suspect they may have to defend themselves. If they reach the point where they realise or think that these people, these staff have no means to defend themselves, I believe they will simply walk in there and cause a great deal of mayhem.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Maria Bernadino came from Timor on Monday night. She spoke to a contact in Suai, west of Dili. The contact says yesterday 40 people were massacred in the church there.

MARIA BERNADINO: And he was in the refuge in the local church in Suai with about 3,000 refugees. He said approximately ten o'clock East Timorese time the militia with the military attacked the church and started killing people. In a few minutes it was 40 people that he saw laying on the ground and he said to me that they were dead. Now this his words. The priest was down on his knees begging for mercy and for the lives of those people, but the militia and the military continued. They used machetes and guns.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: : So it was soldiers and militia?


COMPERE: Community worker Maria Bernadino with Rafael Epstein.

Eyewitness account from East Timor

COMPERE: The East Timorese people have all but been silenced - forced to bear their agony behind a cloak of secrecy thrown over the capital, Dili, by the militia and the Indonesian military.

UNIDENTIFIED: [Excerpt of telephone recorded message]. The destination you are calling is being repaired. Please try again in a few more minutes.

COMPERE: A handful of foreign eyes remain amid reports that the telephone infrastructure has been destroyed and power cut.

Here in Australia, Prime Minister Howard has summoned his ministers back to Canberra for an emergency Cabinet meeting later today. Defence Minister John Moore spoke to the US Defence Secretary William Cohen last night seeking a commitment to a peacekeeping operation; and Mr Howard will raise the deepening tragedy in East Timor with China's President Jiang Zemin later today.

And while the world fiddles, this morning we bring an eyewitness account of the lawlessness and the terror which has overtaken East Timor. AM has spoken to an Australian brother who's just escaped from Dili across the border into West Timor, taking with him at least 30 Timorese. The brother, who doesn't want to be named, told Bronwyn Adcock the militias are now driving around in abandoned UN vehicles.

BROTHER: There's evidence that the military and the militia, who are in fact mainly military, are looting the shops and then setting them on fire. Um - and on our way out of Dili at the main police centre called the Polder there would have been approximately 10,000 people there. Militia were outside walking in. They're all in together. And - so it was a terrible sight, a lot of misery there, and there was a couple there - a young, engaged couple that I saw and know very well - who wanted to come with us to Koopung for their safety, but we just couldn't take them.

BRONWYN ADCOCK: That must have been hard.

BROTHER: It was - it was very hard. And on the way out of Dili there were convoys continually moving towards Koopung. Some of the trucks were just filled with people, others had a whole lot of possessions and a few people on top, and it was quite apparent with some of them having military or militia or both and being escorted. And it would have to be, you'd think, a lot of the looted goods from Dili. And also there were convoys of empty trucks coming back the other way, and presumably that was to get more.

In Dili I saw a UNAMET vehicle being driven by two militia-dressed, ah, older men, perhaps in their thirties, and the window of the - the front windscreen was all bashed in, the front was dented, and they were talking to military there and police. And eventually two of those vehicles - two UN vehicles actually led the convoy for some time - or at least we were following in a convoy that they happened to be in front of.

BRONWYN ADCOCK: The convoy taking refugees out of Timor?


BRONWYN ADCOCK: What does that say to you?

BROTHER: Ah - well, the - I'll just say this point - that when I got to Liquica the two UNAMET cars had pulled over and there they were talking to military and police and - mainly military. The fact they were in the UNAMET vehicles said to me about the Indonesian military's view of - of what the United Nations is all about. I hope it doesn't present the Government's view.

BRONWYN ADCOCK: How did you find getting to the border? Was your convoy safe, or were you harassed at all?

BROTHER: We had to go through many checkpoints, which were pretty frightening. These were manned by militia. They would look into the vehicle. I was lucky that I had a person who could speak Bahasa with me in the leading vehicle. So we got through reasonably well. We - he is a priest and had his sitan on, so I'd say that probably helped. But the people were frightened, and we got through one checkpoint, and one of the young mothers next to me was crying.

BRONWYN ADCOCK: There's been scattered reports of massacres around East Timor. Have you seen anything that would back that up?

BROTHER: It's very hard to verify things. But one sad incident that came to me was from an East Timorese, a member of UNAMET who was on their security staff, and the fires that led to the people rushing to the UNAMET compound on I think Thursday witnessed a child actually being cut up - who was chopped up, and the parts of his body was actually thrown about. Um -

BRONWYN ADCOCK: This is in Dili.

BROTHER: That's in Dili, outside the UNAMET compound.

COMPERE: An Australian religious brother who asked not to be named. He was speaking to Bronwyn Adcock.

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