Scoop Wirewatch: East Timor Snippets

Published: Fri 17 Sep 1999 09:19 AM
The following stories (summaries only) have caught Scoop’s eye in the past few days and shed some light on what NZ troops can expect when they arrive in East Timor possibly as soon as this weekend.
Indonesia cancels security agreement with Australia
JAKARTA, Sept 16 (AFP) - Indonesia on Thursday cancelled a 1995 security agreement with Australia, saying Canberra's stance on the East Timor crisis had violated the principle of non-interference.
"Indonesia has decided to abrogate the agreement between Indonesia and Australia on maintaining security which was signed on December 18, 1995," said Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Feisal Tanjung.
Vatican Foreign Minister Critical of Muslim Silence in Killing of Christians in East Timor
PARIS ( - Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said he regretted that no Muslim leaders had spoken out against the slaughter of Catholics in East Timor by mainly Muslim militias, according to an interview on Wednesday in the French Catholic newspaper La Croix.
In Rare Talks, U.S. and Jakarta Officers Will Discuss Troop Safety
WASHINGTON -- As the Administration discussed which American forces would take part in a peacekeeping mission to East Timor, a senior American military official met on Wednesday at the United Nations with an Indonesian counterpart and sought to insure the full cooperation of the Indonesian military, the White House announced.
Aceh and Ambon learn true cost of resisting Jakarta's rule
The Guardian [UK]
Thursday September 16, 1999
John Aglionby in Jakarta
Thousands of people in Aceh province in western Indonesia demonstrated yesterday to demand a referendum on independence from Jakarta amid reports of unabated military brutality both there and on the eastern spice island of Ambon. Human rights activists say that while the world's gaze has been fixed on East Timor, more than 200 people have been killed since July in both troubled provinces.
Amien Rais and Abdurrahman Wahid, two of Indonesia's most influential politicians and both well-known Islamic intellectuals, joined the 4,000 students and Muslim scholars who demonstrated at the main mosque in Aceh's provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
Carrying banners emblazoned with the word "referendum", the protesters Were unfazed by military threats to clamp down on any separatist movements in the wake of the army-inspired destruction in East Timor after the territory's overwhelming vote to sever its ties with Jakarta.
Atrocities reported in West Timor camps
The Guardian [UK]
Thursday September 16, 1999
Maggie O'Kane in Darwin
United Nations officials who stayed behind in Dili when their compound was abandoned have been bombarded with calls alleging atrocities in the refugee
camps of West Timor to which thousands of East Timorese have fled. "We've had calls saying that the refugee camps are being dominated by the militia. The callers are reporting violence, intimidation and executions in
the camps," said Colin Stewart, a UN political officer and one of the 11 who volunteered to stay behind.
UN observer sounds alarm over absence of men among E. Timor refugees
OTTAWA, Sept 15 (AFP) - Canadian diplomat Ken Sunquist, who was part of a UN delegation which visited refugee camps in West Timor, sounded the alarm over the absence of men among East Timor refugees Wednesday.
"It looked very strange to see maybe 25,000 people in the streets of the camps," and only a "marginal" number of men, Canada's ambassador to Indonesia said in a conference call from Jakarta.
Wiranto 'presidency bid' a tactical ploy
South China Morning Post
Thursday, September 16, 1999
A report yesterday that armed forces chief General Wiranto plans to resign next month to prepare a bid for the presidency is the latest sign of intense manoeuvring ahead of parliament's convening in November.
But the implied message of this and other recent reports - that a deal has already been done within the elite to secure a smooth transfer of power - is woefully premature, analysts say.
Sources close to General Wiranto told Singapore's Straits Times newspaper yesterday that he planned to resign after October 5 (Armed Forces Day), to free him from duty to replace the now-weakened President Bacharuddin Habibie as the ruling Golkar party's presidential candidate.
Militia disappearing from the streets of Dili: UN official
JAKARTA, Sept 15 (AFP) - Fewer militia have been roaming the streets of Dili in the past few days and they seem to be joining an exodus from the territory to Indonesian West Timor, a UN official there said.
"We have seen the continuation of a trend over a number of days, a general westward flow of traffic, trucks laden with goods," said Colin Stewart.
Don't expect them home by Christmas
The Australian Financial Review
Thursday, September 16, 1999
By Tim Dodd, Jakarta
For the Indonesian military to salvage some self-respect from the mess it created in East Timor one thing is essential. The peacekeeping force led by Australia must not have an easy time restoring security.
If there are militia ambushes on the peacekeepers, if the international force sustains casualties, it will give credence to one of the excuses Indonesia has made for allowing the situation in East Timor to get out of control that it is very difficult to keep the peace in that place.
Indonesian military chief not in presidential race: spokesman
JAKARTA, Sept 15 (AFP) - Indonesian military chief and Defence Minister General Wiranto has no desire to run for president in November, the official armed forces spokesman said Wednesday.
"General Wiranto has no intention to step down," spokesman Major General Sudrajat told Cable News Network (CNN).
Sydney Morning Herald: Wiranto may be ready to dump tainted generals
INDONESIA'S Defence Minister and Armed Forces Chief, General Wiranto, is preparing to "sacrifice" two generals linked to the terror campaign by pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor, according to sources in top military and government circles here.
The attempt by General Wiranto to distance himself from the East Timor violence and take credit for inviting United Nations peacekeepers is part of what a senior government figure called "the undercurrent of rivalry" between him and President B.J. Habibie ahead of the presidential election in two months.
Wiranto: Knight or Darth Vader?
JAKARTA -- Diplomats here often have a tough time fathoming Indonesian military chief General Wiranto. Is he still the same knight in shining armour who refused to shoot students in May, who refused to grab power when he had the chance?
Or is he really Darth Vader under that statesmanlike veneer, ready to sacrifice an entire people -- the East Timorese -- to get his own way?
"I have this image of Wiranto that I play with every day," a Western diplomat admits. "One day he wears a white hat, the next a black hat. But I think I've lost the ability to put the white hat back on now."
Alastair Thompson
Scoop Publisher
Alastair Thompson is the co-founder of Scoop. He is of Scottish and Irish extraction and from Wellington, New Zealand. Alastair has 24 years experience in the media, at the Dominion, National Business Review, North & South magazine, Straight Furrow newspaper and online since 1997. He is the winner of several journalism awards for business and investigative work.
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