Indonesia: September 18, 1999



Truck carried some 8,000 militia and police out of East Timor, to West Timor (the half of the island that was always part of Indonesia.) The commander of the Indonesian army (TNI) has delayed meeting with the leader of the UN peacekeeping force until the 19th. Many militiamen and police realize that when the UN troops enter, they will eventually be looking for those who participated in atrocities. But many militia remain, as does some 6,000 TNI troops. They are supposed to cooperate with UN peacekeepers. But popular opinion among Indonesians, and many East Timorese (especially those who migrated here from other parts of Indonesia)  is very anti-UN. They are demonstrating this as they leave Dili, the capital of East Timor, burning anything they can't carry away as loot.

Nine warships and transports left the Australian port of Darwin today. They will arrive off East Timor Sunday morning. This task force consisted of the HMAS Adelaide, a guided-missile frigate, .: HMAS ANZAC, a frigate, HMAS Success, a supply ship, and HMAS Tobruk, an amphibious vessel, HMAS  Balikpapan, Labuan and Brunei, all landing ships and the  New Zealand frigate Te Kaha .and the British destroyer HMS Glasgowl.  A high speed Australian transport, that can make it to East Timor in ten hours, did not leave Darwin. This ship carries 500 troops. The peacekeeping force is to comprise about 7,000 troops, led by the Australians. So far, New Sealand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Argentina and South Korea have also offered troops. The US will provide intelligence (satellite photos and the like) and logistical (transport aircraft and ships) assistance. Only Australia has troops ready to go in. The other nations will be sending survey teams first. Australia can get over three thousand troops into East Timor within a few days.

Over 20,000 tons of food packets were air dropped to the nearly 200,000 refugees who had fled to the bush to escape militia violence.

September 17; UN aircraft carrying emergency food for Timorese refugees have landed in Dili, where they will take on Indonesian guides to assist the pilots in finding refugees in need of food. The Indonesians also want to keep the UN operations under their observation until the independence of East Timor becomes official at the end of the year. The Indonesian government said it cannot protect Western journalists in East Timor because of the anti-intervention sentiments. This has been the case for several weeks and as a result only scattered reports have come out of East Timor. There are no reliable numbers on how many people have been killed or turned into refugees. It is fairly certain that most of Dili has been burned down, but Dili has been the center of most militia activity so far. So it is uncertain what is going on in the rest of East Timor. The UN estimates there are 300,000-400,000 refugees and 100,000-150,000 are in need of food. Students rioted in Jakarta against a new security law being debated in parliament. Three people were killed during Moslem-Christian rioting in Ambon.

September 16; East Timorese refugees who flee to other parts of Indonesia find militias similar to the ones they are running from, and the local militias are proving just as hostile as the ones left behind. Indonesians are not taking the independence vote of the East Timorese well at all, and emotions are running hot. In the past, this has proven a deadly situation. In the west Indonesian province of Aceh, Islamic religious leaders have asked for an independence referendum. Aceh was one area of Indonesia that has always had a strong independence tendency. Even before the Europeans showed up four hundred years ago, Aceh was difficult to keep under control. The Indonesian government has cancelled a long standing military security pact with Australia. Although the government has agreed to allow Australia to lead the peacekeeping force into East Timor, the idea of non-Asians (or non-Asian looking) troops entering Indonesian territory is very unpopular. 




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