Count on Us to Let You Down
The United Nations has ordered staff in East Timor not to co-operate with Australian Federal Police investigating the massacre of 12 unarmed Timorese officers by renegade soldiers, prompting allegations of a cover-up. An email from the UN's deputy representative in Timor, Pakistani General Anis Bajwa, had been circulated to all staff, including employees evacuated to Australia, directing them not to assist AFP detectives investigating the worst atrocity since the violence of 1999. ...
Earlier today the UN denied the email existed, but UN spokesman Bob Sullivan tonight contacted AAP and admitted a directive had been sent out in an email to all staff. "We made a mistake here," he said. "An email instruction was sent out telling staff to wait for the start of the official investigation. ... But the UN was willing to cooperate when eventually asked to by the East Timor government, Mr Sullivan said.
The massacre of the East Timorese officers occurred after renegade soldiers opened fire on the police as they left their headquarters under a truce brokered by the UN's police commander in Dili, Saif Malik, also from Pakistan. Malik ignored advice that to lead unarmed Timorese police past the guns of the soldiers would lead to a massacre. "He was told by all his advisers not to take them out there, but he would not listen," sources close to the investigation said.
"He kept insisting the presence of the UN could protect them." Instead the police were escorted out behind a blue UN flag and got less than 100 metres from their headquarters when two soldiers opened fire, killing 12 officers and wounding at least 20, including UN police protectors from the Philippines.
The soldiers executed several wounded police at point-blank range, firing shotguns into their heads, sources within the AFP said. "It looks like the UN or Malik or someone wants to bury it all now," one investigator said. Investigators are studying photographs apparently taken during the shootings.
Let's see now. Twelve innocent persons killed by a mistake in judgment, not by a teenaged soldiers, but the senior foreign commander on the scene who ignored the advice of his advisers. This caused an incident that almost threw an entire country into civil war, though there were tensions before that. And what was the foreign response? Don't cooperate with the investigation; then deny you said you wouldn't cooperate with the investigation. The finally cooperate when you've got no place else to run. But oops. This isn't a rogue state -- like America. This is the UN. Look to follow this story on page 55.
I can almost imagine those Filipino cops telling that UN Commander in that inimitable accent. "Ser. Let's nat du dis. Its beri dayngerus. Bikos gardemit ser, dey ar guwing to syut us". (This is perfect English spoken a little bit differently.) If there is one thing a Filipino cop has plenty of, it's a highly developed sixth sense called kutob, broadly equivalent to the feeling conveyed in that old Hollywood line. "It's quiet out there. Too quiet."