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The BBC's UN Correspondent, Mark Devenport
"Two UN observers at the ceremony were threatened"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 September, 2000, 22:21 GMT 23:21 UK
Indonesia arms crackdown 'pathetic'
militia
Militia gangs devastated East Timor
A top United Nations official has called Indonesia's approach to disarming the pro-Jakarta militias in West Timor "pathetic".


I do not believe that militia will voluntarily surrender their weapons

Sergio Vieira de Mello
Sergio Vieira de Mello spoke after a weapons handover on Sunday ended in a riot with militia members taking back the weapons they had handed in, and UN observers fleeing to East Timor.

The militia gangs devastated East Timor last year after the territory overwhelmingly voted in a UN-organised ballot to end Indonesian rule.

Now the UN says the militia gangs are preventing 120,000 East Timorese refugees, languishing in squalid camps in Indonesian-controlled West Timor, from returning home.

Sergio Vieira de Mello
Sergio Vieira de Mello: Sceptical
The Indonesian authorities launched a disarmament programme after the UN Security Council condemned the killing by a militia-led mob of three unarmed relief workers in the border town of Atambua on 6 September.

Indonesian authorities said after the riot on Sunday they had given the militias until Thursday to disarm.

But Mr de Mello, head of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), said he was sceptical of the disarmament programme.

Aid warning

"I do not believe that militia will voluntarily surrender their weapons and if they do, they probably will surrender the old rotten ones and kept the modern ones," he said.

refugees
Thousands of refugees are stranded in refugee camps
The violence on Sunday began when militia members in Atambua demanded the return of their weapons after Indonesia's visiting Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri refused to speak with them about their future.

Militiamen attacked policemen, grabbed 13 automatic rifles they had earlier surrendered, then threatened to shoot security officers.

East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao also attacked Indonesia's "incapability and incapacity" to disarm the militias.

Last week, US Defence Secretary William Cohen warned that Indonesia risked losing international financial assistance if it failed to immediately disband the armed gangs.

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See also:

22 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia begins arms crackdown
20 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia rejects UN West Timor mission
18 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cohen warning over West Timor militias
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor marks year of freedom
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