TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP
TITLE=OUTRAGE OVER EAST TIMOR
/// re-running w/correct number ///
INTRO: The news from East Timor continues to be grim.
Indonesia's official news agency is reporting that
refugees are streaming out of the province, as roving
gangs continue to rampage through Dili, the capital.
In the United States, the tone of editorials demanding
some kind of armed intervention by the United Nations,
or some of its member states, is becoming more
strident. Several papers are counseling extreme
caution about any sort of intervention without
Indonesian approval, which has not been forthcoming.
We get a sampling now from __________ in today's U-S
TEXT: Ever since last week's plebiscite in East
Timor, which resulted in an overwhelming vote for
independence from Indonesia, violence has increased.
Private militias, reportedly sponsored by the
Indonesian military have been killing pro-independence
supporters and looting homes and businesses. Unarmed
United Nations election observers have been attacked.
Now, many U-S papers are editorializing that more
needs to be done than threatening Indonesia with a
cutoff of international funds to help it out of an
We begin in Florida, where "The Orlando Sentinel"
VOICE: In East Timor - a territory virtually unknown
to most Americans, which Indonesia has controlled
since 1975 - armed thugs have been killing innocent
civilians. . The massacre must stop. If Indonesia
fails to deliver on its promise to stop the bloodbath
in the former Portuguese colony, the international
community should rise beyond condemnation.
Leadership, though, should come from Southeast Asia,
not the United States.
TEXT: Georgia's Atlanta Journal wants to see more
pressure put on Jakarta to stop the killing, and
compares the situation to the Balkans.
VOICE: "Ethnic Cleansing" was a new and shocking
phrase when the government of President Slobodan
Milosevic introduced the vicious practice to the world
in Bosnia, and later in Kosovo. Others around the
world have apparently been learning its meaning
quickly . Witness the terrifying campaign of
brutality, murder, expulsion and destruction being
waged in East Timor .. As in the Serbian case, much of
the actual violence in East Timor is being conducted
by what are called "militias," paramilitary groups
that have no direct, official connection to the
government. But Indonesia's army and police
conveniently stood by for days and watched the
killing, wounding, burning and forced evacuations of
Timorese people .. Prospects for ending this horror
are dim. . The only hope is for Indonesia's government
to discover that it has dome strong interest in
reversing its course of indifference and connivance in
the vicious campaign against the Timorese people.
TEXT: The views of The Atlanta Journal.
TEXT: In California, The San Francisco Chronicle is
hoping that, somehow, the Indonesian government will
quickly change its approach.
VOICE: The best option, of course, would be for
Indonesia to provide genuine security for the island
of 800-thousand people as it begins a transition
toward autonomy. Indonesia has declared martial law
in East Timor, giving the military the ability to
conduct searches without warrants, enforce curfews and
shoot violators on sight. However, the evidence to
date suggests that Indonesia has neither the will nor
the means to rein in the violence.
TEXT: Newspaper readers in Philadelphia are seeing
plenty about the beleaguered island in the
Philadelphia Inquirer. The lead editorial headline
reads: "Send in U-N help", while on the opposite page,
international affairs writer Trudy Rubin's column is
headlined "In East Timor crisis, echoes of Kosovo."
But the veteran writer explains how difficult
approving any action in the U-N Security Council will
VOICE: If the Australians seek a U-N Security Council
vote [on armed intervention] over Indonesia's
objection, China would surely veto, lest a precedent
be set for some future outside invasion of say, Tibet.
What to do? Economic pressure on Jakarta might help -
- if Washington and its allies pull together to
oppose vital international loans to Jakarta unless
Indonesia reigns in the East Timor violence. But it''
not clear that [President] Habibie, who leaves office
in January, can control his own generals. More
crucial is international pressure on Indonesia to let
in peacekeepers soon.... Can the international
community unite to squeeze Jakarta into letting
peacekeepers enter before it's too late to matter? If
not, the only Kosovo precedent will be that the
international community dithered while another ethnic
community was slaughtered as we watched.
TEXT: Thoughts from the Philadelphia Inquirer's
veteran foreign affairs analyst, Trudy Rubin.
Back to California, where The Los Angeles Times
suggests "East Timor Needs Outside Help," adding:
VOICE: There is a strong odor of ethnic cleansing in
the depredations. If the Jakarta government can't
halt this outrage, others should act. The New York
Times describes the situation in its lead editorial
headline as "East Timor Under Siege," but cautions:
VOICE: An international force is clearly the last
resort, to be tried only if President Habibie and
Indonesia's military leader, General Wiranto, will not
stop the violence. But a united, powerful threat from
abroad is likely needed to persuade them to end the
TEXT: Today's San Diego [California] Union-Tribune is
skeptical of Indonesia's moves so far:
VOICE: The imposition of martial law by Jakarta is
meaningless. Indonesian troops already on East Timor
have condoned the rampage by pro-Indonesian
paramilitaries for a week. Either the government of
B-J Habibie has lost control of its army or is
manipulating the situation in an attempt to
delegitimize the independence vote.
TEXT: From the Midwest, The [Minneapolis] Star Tribune
VOICER: In the Minnesota autumn, it's easy to pretend
all is right with the world. In the streets of Dili
it's impossible. East Timor's capital and countryside
abide in terror right now - because some people yearn
for freedom and others will not let them have it.
TEXT: The St. Petersburg [Florida] Times is anxious
about outside intervention, however, noting:
VOICE: Indonesia opposes intervention, insisting it
can handle the problem itself. The United Nations
should be careful. It is not an indisputable truth
that East Timor should be independent. Indonesia is a
series of 16-thouand-500 islands-and Timor is located
among them. Also, an argument could be made that East
and West Timor should be together. . If U-N troops
pour into Indonesian territory against the
government's will ... there could be a need to keep
peacekeepers there indefinitely to prevent Indonesia
from reclaiming it. If peacekeepers are sent in,
consistency will re-emerge as an issue. Sierra Leone,
nestled among several small countries on Africa's West
Coast, has been engulfed in civil war for eight years.
. It will be hard to justify intervention in East
Timor but not Sierra Leone. The United Nations should
strive to be more consistent than U-S foreign policy
has been in recent years.
TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of
comment on the deteriorating situation in East Timor.
08-Sep-1999 15:12 PM EDT (08-Sep-1999 1912 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list