Statement by Ambassador Richard Ryan to UN Security Council 11/9/99
I wish to begin by associating my delegation fully with the statement made by the Ambassador of Finland on behalf of the European Union.
The Government and people of Ireland have been deeply shocked and outraged at the unfolding events in East Timor following the popular consultation on 30 August, and most particularly following the announcement of the clear result by the Secretary-General on 3 September.
On 30 August the people of East Timor had an opportunity for the first time to express their will with regard to their future. Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. David Andrews T.D., in his capacity as the Personal Representative of the European Union Presidency, was present to observe the event. His report, on behalf of the European Union Observer Groups, clearly confirmed that the ballot was conducted by UNAMET in an eminently fair and transparent manner, and that, in consequence, there could be no doubt that the outcome, whatever it might be, could be taken as the clear expression of the will of the East Timorese people.
There has been a widespread systematic campaign to negate the clear result of this transparent exercise in self-determination, through organised intimidation and violence. There is growing evidence of a brutal policy, through killings and forced displacement, to reverse the result by removing from East Timor large numbers of those who voted for independence. Virtually all of those who would bear witness to these events to the outside world - the staff of UNAMET regional offices, the ICRC, international humanitarian agencies, non-governmental organisations and members of the media - have been forced to withdraw.
The responsibility for this turn of events lies squarely with the Indonesian authorities. They undertook, in the 5 May Agreements, to maintain peace and security in East Timor. In the face of mounting concern they insisted that it was their prerogative to maintain security, while at the same time cynically excusing unrestrained militia activities. It is now entirely clear to us all that the Indonesian authorities are not in a position to maintain security. Despite the proclamation of martial law, the Indonesian Armed Forces are unable or unwilling even to prevent militia from threatening the remaining UNAMET personnel in Dili. The Secretary-General, in a statement yesterday, said there are reports that crimes against humanity have been committed. My delegation is aware of similar reports, including allegations of genocide. If that is the case, those responsible must be apprehended and brought to justice.
The international community has made an offer of assistance to the Indonesian authorities in restoring law and order, and the re-establishment of the conditions which would allow the people of East Timor to return to their homes in safety. This offer has been conveyed directly by the mission which was dispatched by the Security Council. Ireland urges the Government of Indonesia to accept this offer of help without further delay. Ireland also urges all those who may hold influence over the authorities in Indonesia to do all in their power to persuade them to accept the offer.
The campaign of terror unleashed in East Timor has created a major humanitarian crisis. International humanitarian assistance is urgently required if starvation and disease are to be avoided. However, there can be no such assistance if the necessary security conditions are not in place. It is clear that the people who need the assistance are still under severe physical threat from those who displaced them, and that the Indonesian security forces are manifestly unable, if not unwilling, to contain this threat.
Hopes were high that, by the exercise in self-determination provided for under the 5 May Agreements, the status of the non-self-governing territory of East Timor would be finally settled, furthering an established objective of the United Nations when it proclaimed the International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism, now drawing to a close. The turn which events have taken is tragic, but, it is, we believe, reversible if Indonesia now accepts the help on offer. If it does not, the result will undermine and damage fundamentally Indonesia's relations with its friends in the international community. It is very hard to believe that anyone, inside or outside Indonesia, could wilfully seek such an outcome.
Thank you, Mr, President.
September 11, 1999