British-made war planes menace East Timor

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The Independent Online
TWO British-built Hawk war planes of the Indonesian Air Force in close formation swooped low over Dili, the capital of occupied east Timor, at 8.40 on Friday morning. It was the first recent sighting of the aircraft and it occurred as Indonesian forces who had been occupying the former Portuguese colony in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions for the past 20 years were in the streets warning the local population against staging any public protests.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the massacre by Indonesian troops and police of several hundred unarmed Timorese protesting against the Indonesian occupation.

British protesters against the sale of the Hawks to Indonesia have been given informal British government assurances that the government of General Suharto would not use the aircraft against the Timorese.

The Hawks appear to have flown from Kupang, capital of west Timor, where an unusual level of military activity has been registered in recent days.

The streets of Dili have been filled recently by Indonesians in riot gear. Foreigners have been forcibly evacuated from the territory and those wishing to visit have been prevented from flying in. These measures have raised fears that the occupation forces may repeat the acts of four years ago.

Yesterday Indonesian troops armed with automatic weapons and riot police were deployed throughout the city, as crowds gathered at Santa Cruz Cemetery, where many of the massacre victims are buried.

The large Indonesian order for Hawks is seen as important to the profitability of versatile aircraft built by British Aerospace. The Hawk can be used in a number of roles which range from pilot training to the launching of bombs and rockets. The commercial importance of the Hawk contract is seen as one of the main reasons for Britain's unwillingness to put pressure on the Indonesian government.

Resistance burns bright, page 16

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