The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, has said there has been 'a vicious and systematic campaign of gross violations of human rights' in East Timor. Publishing a report on her visit to Indonesia and Darwin last weekend - where she met evacuated UN staff - Mrs Robinson said she had been told of mass executions in the East Timorese capital, Dili. The former President's report also listed atrocities such as the murder of at least one hundred Catholics in a church set alight by pro-Jakarta militia and the rape of women on a ship taking East Timorese people to safety in West Timor. Mrs. Robinson said that between 120,000 and 200,000 East Timorese had been displaced from their homes.
Thousands of Indonesian troops are reported to have left East Timor ahead of the arrival this weekend of the first units of a United Nations peacekeeping force. The military authorities say the whole of East Timor is now under the control of the Martial Law Military Command.
The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard has said that any attacks by Indonesian troops on the multinational peacekeeping force in East Timor would provoke retaliation and a strengthening of the force. But, Mr Howard said he believed attacks were unlikely, as Jakarta had been relatively co-operative in initial discussions. He included the United States among the nations likely to react to any aggression by Indonesian troops. The US has committed just 200 support troops to the force, which is expected in East Timor on Sunday.
The first planes carrying aid for refugees in East Timor since the pro-Indonesian militias began their campaign of violence have arrived in the territory. A UN official in Darwin, said two C130 Hercules transport planes landed at Dili airport with 20 tonnes of rice and blankets. The official said the first air drops for refugees forced from their homes in East Timor would take place later today.
Aid organisations say hundreds of thousands of people have little food or water and face starvation as they hide in the mountains from the militias. Further flights will depend on Indonesia giving permission to relief organisations to fly to the territory. Matt Francis, a spokesman for the relief agency, OZAID, said some people have been without food for over a week.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has said that some of the pro-Indonesian militia groups responsible for the recent violence in East Timor appear to be leaving ahead of the arrival of the multi-national peacekeeping force. According to reports from the small number of UN staff still in the territory, the militias have indulged in wholesale looting and burning before leaving. UN spokesman Fred Eckhardt said some of the exodus was confirmed by the organisation's personnel who travelled outside the capital, Dili, to neighbouring towns.