UN sends senior diplomat
- Thursday 26 May 2006

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has sent Ian Martin, head of the UN Human Rights Mission in Nepal, to Timor-Leste to assess the situation as army soldiers opened fire on unarmed police on May 25 in fresh violence, killing nine and injuring 27 others in the country which the United Nations shepherded to independence from Indonesia in 2002.

Two UN police officers were among those injured in the violence that began when army elements launched an attack on national police headquarters in Dili, the capital. After an hour, UN police and military advisers negotiated a ceasefire that was agreed to on the condition the police surrender their weapons and leave unarmed.

Condemning the attack, the UN office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), headed by Sukehiro Hasegawa, said soldiers opened fire as unarmed police were being escorted out. UN personnel evacuated the wounded to the mission, and the critically injured were transferred to Dili National Hospital. UN personnel rescued 62 other police officers who now being sheltered at the UN compound.

The Secretary-General telephoned Timorese President Xanana Gusmão and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri as well as Prime Ministers John Howard and Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia. He is also consulting with the governments of New Zealand and Portugal, the former colonial power.

“In view of the deteriorating security and complex political situation, the Secretary-General has decided to send Ian Martin, head of the UN Human Rights Mission in Nepal, to Dili to assess the situation first hand,” the spokesman said. Mr. Martin was Mr. Annan’s Special Representative in East Timor in 1999, as it was called then, when it voted for independence from Indonesia, which occupied the country after Portugal left in 1974.

Source: UN News Centre