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     UNIS/SG/2363
               11 September 1999
    Kofi Annan Says Time Has Come for Indonesia to Seek International
    Community’s Help to Bring Order and Security to East Timor

     

    NEW YORK, 11 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s statement to the Security Council on the situation in East Timor, which he delivered on 11 September:
     

    A week ago in this chamber I informed the Council that the people of East Timor had voted overwhelmingly to reject an offer of autonomy from the Indonesian Government, and in favour of a transition towards independence. 

    The conditions under which the Popular Consultation took place on 30 August were far from ideal.  But the extremely large turnout, and the judgement of the international observers and the Electoral Commission, left no doubt as to the integrity and validity of the ballot.  The international community should therefore now be proceeding, without any hesitation, to implement the result of the ballot.

    Unhappily, no sooner had the result of the ballot been announced than East Timor began a descent into chaos. 

    The scale of the violence, death and destruction has been far beyond what any international observers anticipated.  As I said in my press conference yesterday, what is happening in East Timor may well fall into various categories of international crime.  The individuals who have ordered and carried out these crimes must be held accountable.

    During the last week, my colleagues and I have given the Council regular and detailed briefings on these sad developments. 

    There has been an overwhelming international public response to the plight of the people of East Timor in their hour of darkness.  Members of the Council have been preoccupied with the crisis, as have my colleagues and I in the Secretariat. 

    In addition, I have been in constant telephone contact with many Heads of State and other world leaders from all parts of the globe.  In particular, I have spoken throughout the week to President S.J. Habibie in Jakarta.  My goal has been to create conditions that would enable the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) to carry out the mandate with which the Council has entrusted it.  The first such condition is the restoration of law and order, which under the 5 May Agreements is the responsibility of the Government of Indonesia. 

    The Council has dispatched it own mission to Indonesia to emphasize directly to the leaders of that country at the highest levels the urgency of the situation and the necessity for immediate action. 

    Despite all of our efforts, the security situation has steadily deteriorated and the United Nations Mission in East Timor has been forced to close all but one of its offices.  Yesterday UNAMET relocated all non-essential staff, including 280 UNAMET local staff and their families, out of East Timor.  Only 86 international personnel remain in the headquarters compound in Dili.

    Lawlessness and disorder have reigned in Dili this week despite a significant presence of Indonesian police and military who are unwilling or unable to control the situation. 

    As I said in a public statement yesterday, faced with this grave situation the future of the UNAMET's presence in East Timor remains under hourly review.

    On Tuesday, Indonesia declared martial law in East Timor, but neither this nor the presence of extra troops has had the effect of restoring order. 

    As you know, on Wednesday and Thursday UNAMET convoys were attacked by armed militias, despite having an escort of Indonesian troops, and yesterday soldiers of the Indonesian army tasked with guarding the compound joined the pro-integration militia who were terrorizing those inside.

    Approximately 1,000 East Timorese have taken refuge in the United Nations compound.  The conditions under which they are being accommodated are precarious. 

    The plight of these unfortunate innocent victims is but one aspect of an unfolding humanitarian disaster in East Timor.  The vast majority of the population has been forcibly displaced. 

    With access to all of East Timor now denied to the international community, we cannot be certain of the full dimensions of the humanitarian crisis, or of the requirements for survival of the population that has been uprooted.  But it is clear that extremely urgent action is required to provide for the basic needs of food, water and health care. 

    Food is fast running out in the places of known concentration inside East Timor.  The problem of the bulk of the population, now believed to have fled or been forcibly moved to West Timor, is equally pressing.

    I am glad to be say that UNAMET reports the situation in Dili today as being very quiet. 

    Earlier today the Security Council Mission visited East Timor to see for themselves the conditions on the ground and the impediments being faced by UNAMET and its courageous staff.  I understand that they were able to visit the whole city, and see for themselves the extent of the destruction. 

    Like you, I look forward to receiving the full report of the Council's Mission within the next day or two.  But I believe it is worth remarking at this point that the ability of the Indonesian armed forces to maintain calm in Dili during the Mission's visit further emphasizes their responsibility for the security situation as a whole.

    As I said yesterday, the time has come for Indonesia to seek the help of the international community in fulfilling its responsibility to bring order and security to the people of East Timor -- which must include guaranteeing the safety and protection of the civilian leaders of the pro-independence camp. 

    Once again, I urge Indonesia to agree without further delay to the deployment of an international force.

    The international community is asking for Indonesia's consent to the deployment of such a force.  But I hope it is clear, Mr. President, that it does so out of deference to Indonesia's position as a respected member of the community of States. 

    Regrettably, that position is now being placed in jeopardy by the tragedy that has engulfed the people of East Timor.

    I sincerely hope this open debate in the Council will contribute to the ending of that tragedy.  The meeting of the Council today symbolizes the determination of its members, and that of the United Nations membership as a whole, to fulfil their obligations under the Charter.

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