|East Timor||CARDINAL SAYS INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE NEEDED IMMEDIATELY|
Cardinal Edward Clancy yesterday called for a peacekeeping force to be sent to East Timor.
"The time for a United Nations mandated Peace Keeping Force is now. Australia should join such an international effort, indeed be a key element of it, given our long history of association both with Indonesia and with East Timor," Cardinal Clancy said.
The Cardinal has sent a letter to the Prime Minister, John Howard, expressing his grave concern over the crisis in East Timor and encouraging an active Australian involvement in bringing about an end to the violence.
He stated that many hundreds of civilians, men, women and children are seeking sanctuary in Catholic Church buildings and grounds. They are vulnerable to attack and this possibility demands an immediate response by the international community.
"East Timor is not yet a war zone. The violence that exists is a direct attack on independence supporters, mainly civilians, by Indonesian army-backed militias. This action is intended to return the army to a central role.
"The danger represented by a slide into chaos is that the army's direct engagement may lead to mass murder. Indonesian army personnel should be confined to barracks and a Peace Keeping Force should work with Indonesian Police to arrest militia members engaging in violence.
"If we simply stand by and do nothing it will leave a scar on our reputation and history that will never heal.
"As a result of the violence of the last few days, there is a heightened humanitarian crisis for the people of East Timor. Church workers can no longer carry out their relief work," Cardinal Clancy said.
"The Catholic Church, through Caritas Australia, will continue to help with emergency food and medical relief wherever it is possible."
Donations can be made to Caritas Australia's East Timor Appeal on 1 800 024 413. 12:07pm 7/9/99