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The Humanitarian Times
September 17, 1999
- ALGERIAN CIVIL CONCORD REFERENDUM APPROVED BY 99% OF VOTERS
Voter turnout was 85%, signaling resolution of the 7-year conflict in
which 60,000 were killed. The referendum approves Pres. Bouteflika's
peace plan (already passed by the Senate & Parliament), which grants
amnesty to tens of thousands of Islamic rebels. Bouteflika (elected
last May) said he would step down were the referendum to fail.
- UN (FAO) FOOD ASSESSMENT FINDS 1.5 MILLION SOMALIS FOOD INSECURE
& in need of aid, due to a poor Gu harvest. "Damage to infrastructure
& lack of inputs as a result of civil strife have contributed to low
yields. Spare parts & fuel for tractors are in short supply, & a lack
of pesticides has led to a proliferation of pests (army worms, stalk
borers). The fighting, especially in C & S Somalia, has hampered
commercial food trade & distribution of food aid."
- SERBIA WILL LACK KEY HOUSEHOLD ENERGY DURING WINTER COLD,
finds a UN Humanitarian Affairs office "Humanitarian Risk Analysis"
of Yugoslavia released 2 weeks ago, citing heating failure as risk to
urban poor; pensioners meanwhile will have little disposable income for
food. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that net damage from
bombing of Serbia exceeds $60 billion.
- MILLIONS DISPLACED BY HURRICANE FLOYD, IN SE U.S., CARIBBEAN.
Floyd, a level 4 hurricane, clocked wind-speeds of 230 km/hour. Damage
to the Bahaman Islands is being assessed by the Caribbean Emergency
Response Agency: CDERA@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- CAROL BELLAMY WILL SERVE 2nd TERM DIRECTING UNICEF
it was announced last week. This week, speaking at a conf in Africa,
Bellamy said "Some 200,000 people, most of them children & women, died
in 1998 as a result of armed conflict on the African continent; & yet
2 million Africans were killed by AIDS in that same year."
- SUDAN CRISIS: 11 HUMANITARIAN AID GROUPS PRESSED US DEPT OF STATE
Secretary M Albright on Wed. to provide aid for civil society in both
N & S Sudan & show more leadership in brokering a resolution to the
arguably "un-winnable" 20-year conflict in the south.
- ANNUAL REPORT ON INTL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RELEASED LAST WEEK
by US Dept of State examining areas where freedom of religion does
not exist, including S. Arabia, Pakistan & Iran. It is available
FOCUS ON EAST TIMOR
- UN ESTIMATES 7,000+ KILLED & 250,000 FORCIBLY DISPLACED IN E TIMOR
- UN SECURITY COUNCIL PLANS PEACE ENFORCEMENT MISSION OF 7,000 TROOPS
to East Timor, led by 4,000+ Australians (against the wishes of
Indonesia's Parliament). Local right-wing paramilitaries in Indonesia
have stated they will kill international forces. Paramilitaries were
created, trained & supported by Indonesia's Kopassus Special Forces.
There is speculation that the goal of the resistance is to carve out
some of the more valuable agricultural lands to be added to West
Timor, even if East Timor secures independence. Armed pro-
independence Timorese groups have stayed in the hills, avoiding
direct confrontation with the Indonesian military & paramilitaries.
- FIRST INDONESIAN TROOPS SET TO WITHDRAW, OUT OF 9,000 TOTAL IN E TIMOR
- AIR DROPS TO INTERNALLY DISPLACED START TODAY, AFTER DELAYS.
Food stocks build in Australia's staging area, Darwin. UNHCR
condemned Indonesia's authorities for breaking their promise to allow
food to be trucked in by road. UN OCHA's Kevin Kennedy reached Dare
(south of Dili) on Wed.& found that many Timorese had retreated
further into the bush. Bishop Belo called for massive humanitarian
relief: "While diplomats talk, my country is being destroyed."
Some aid groups (primarily American) helping Timor are listed online:
- WEST TIMOR NOW DRAWN INTO LAWLESSNESS, STOLEN GOODS, REFUGEES
Community Aid Abroad (Australian NGO) reports on the growing number
of militia, & stolen goods entering Kupang port in Indonesian West
Timor province: "The harbor was transformed into a market, as goods
from Dili were sold to Kupang merchants and residents." An estimated
200,000 refugees in W Timor, from E Timor, need water & sanitation.
Access to the 75,000 refugees in Atambua has been limited, as in other
camps: "international agencies trying to conduct assessments or
implement emergency programs there have been discouraged by threats &
intimidation by militia." Two employees of the Intl. Comm. of the
Red Cross were abducted along the border.
- AUSTRALIA HOSTS 2,200+ NEW REFUGEES FROM TIMOR AT DARWIN CAMP
Attention to the crisis in East Timor is a long time in coming. In the
1970s, when Indonesia mounted an unprovoked invasion, only the NY Times
ran any news on Timor, and only Noam Chomsky attempted to call attention
to the crisis, echoed by Congressman Tony Hall in the 1990s.
Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in Dec. 1975, & ongoing occupation
has never been accepted by the UN. Catholic aid groups estimated that
100,000 died of starvation & violence in the early occupation 1976-77.
More recently, in 1991, 250+ mourners were shot & killed by the
occupying troops at a cemetery in Santa Cruz, E Timor. Even in 1998
dozens of houses burned & thousands were displaced. The end of
Suharto's military rule of Indonesia permitted new President Habibie to
begin the process, in early 1999, of allowing East Timor to become
independent, although the Indonesian military has independently created
paramilitary forces who have, in recent weeks, destroyed much of the
evidence and many of the witnesses that document the human rights
problems in E Timor.
- EAST TIMOR'S HISTORY EXPLAINED IN PERSONAL STORY
of Nobel Peace Prize co-Winner (1996) Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes
Belo in the 1999 biography "From the Place of the Dead: The Epic
Struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor" (by Arnold S Kohen NY: St.
Martin's Press). The book primarily tells of the background,
education & travails of Belo, of the Catholic Salesian order, who has
consistently advocated for peace in East Timor. Passages explain how
Indonesia's military view the Timorese: "Indonesian troops arrived in
Dili in the predawn hours of Dec. 7, 1975. Soldiers of Muslim
background were told they were sent to fight a jihad, or holy war,
against pagan infidels. For many of them, the peoples of
the Outer Islands had traditionally been regarded as culturally
inferior, all the more so for East Timor, a land that had never been
part of the republic, with vastly different languages & customs... What
the CIA knew became public only more than 15 years later... there was
hard evidence of many atrocities." During the period of destruction of
crops (bombing), forced labor, 90% of military equipment used in 1976/77
invasion was supplied by the US. The biography also covers events prior
to the Portuguese granting independence in 1974: "Indonesian
intelligence operatives undertook a large-scale operation to incite
conflict among the E Timorese political parties." Belo has worked
with many NGOs including UK's CAFOD. He was particularly frustrated at
his efforts to protect his countrymen: "For Belo, Santa Cruz was one
of the greatest horrors imaginable: hundreds of his beloved young
people killed & wounded, while he, a Salesian priest charged with
protecting them, had been powerless to prevent it."
- For more information on E Timor, see C Pinto's 1997 "East Timor's
Unfinished Struggle" (Boston: South End Press) an autobiographical
firsthand account of 1980s attempts to garner intl attention to the
crisis in E Timor; or Geoffrey Gunn 1997 "East Timor & the UN: The
Case for Intervention" (Asmara, Eritrea: Red Sea Press) which is
strong on references of international conventions on E Timor, or "East
Timor at the Crossroads: Forging of a Nation" (Peter Carey, editor
1995 NY: Social Science Research Council) which compiles essays on the
undercurrents of change & prospects for independence.
- "THE POLITICS OF POST-SUHARTO INDONESIA" EXAMINES JAVA IN THE 1990s,
(co-edited by A Schwarz & J Paris 1999 New York: Council on Foreign
Relations) & collects five angles on recent political forces
surrounding the final end of General Suharto's dictatorship in May 1998,
including the various anti-Chinese & anti-Christian riots in 1996, 97 &
98 (one riot in May 1998 led to 1,200 deaths), Suharto's mass education
& support to Muslim movements, & the humanitarian crisis resulting from
financial problems after 1997. "Some 40 million Indonesians were
vulnerable to food shortages because of high inflation, a low exchange
rate and loss of jobs." Some of the anti-Chinese riots are credited to
Suharto's son-in-law, Prabowo. The power of the Army Strategic Reserve
(Kostrad) and the Army Special Forces (of 10,000 troops, based in
Jakarta) is examined. One author finds that the IMF remedies imposed on
Indonesia in 1998 were not appropriate for SE Asian economies with
budget surpluses, low inflation and stable foreign exchange reserves.
The problem was a pre-1996 "lending binge by international money
market managers and investment banks with the borrowed funds going for
investments in real estate and other non-exporting sectors." One of the
principal economic reforms was the creation of the New Indonesian Bank
Restructuring Agency which has taken over 54 banks & is monitoring 250
others. As happened last week, with regard to East Timor, in 1998 the
US canceled a joint training exercise with the Indonesian Armed forces:
"The US had circumstantial evidence that elements in the Indonesian
armed Forces were kidnapping & torturing political dissidents."
- "THE RAPE OF NANKING: THE FORGOTTEN HOLOCAUST OF WORLD WAR II"
by Iris Chang (1997 NY: Basic Books) who writes that she "became
terrified that the history of 300,000 murdered Chinese might disappear
just as they themselves had disappeared under Japanese occupation.
Many in Japan continue to treat the war crimes as the isolated acts of
individual soldiers or even as events that did not occur." This
historiography documents the massacres, torture of women, medical tests
on Chinese prisoners, torching of surrounding villages & looting that
occurred in 1936-38. "To encourage addiction & further enslave the
people, the Japanese routinely used narcotics as payment for labor &
prostitution in Nanking."
Chang explores how an otherwise civilized society trained its soldiers
to kill noncombatants: the Japanese military set up "various games &
exercises to numb its men to the human instinct against killing people
who are not attacking." In 1946 & 47 War Crimes tribunals convicted
some but not all Japanese leaders responsible.
The Humanitarian Times