Thursday, August 17, 2006

The UN Does it Again Oh they will protect you...

New Zealand news on NZ officer caught up in massacre

NZ officer caught up in massacre
01 June 2006

A New Zealand army officer caught up in last Thursday's massacre of East Timorese policemen told yesterday of his dash to safety with some of the survivors.

Major Ian Martyn, here with the United Nations teaching border control how to do the job, said police became the target of a faction of the national army, the FFTL, last Thursday.

"There was sustained automatic weapons fire; rocket-propelled grenades being used, there was hand grenades being used. . .

"When it got to that sort of crescendo around about midday then that's when we received a call for assistance – the PNTL (police) national headquarters was under sustained attack and the chief military training advisor made an approach to. . .. to try negotiate some sort of a truce to try and extract the PNTL officers."

A deal was done with an agreement the police would be allowed to leave the headquarters unarmed and have safe passage to the UN barracks.

"These people are told to disarm, they're not happy about that whatsoever, taking away their potential protection. So there's a lot of coaxing and jollying and smiling and soft talking to try and coax the weapons away from these people. We finally do."

The weapons are loaded into the car followed by a delay as people in the building were rounded up.

AdvertisementAdvertisement"Time was ticking along at this stage.

"There are still people in the building, they are still coming, still coming, the weapons pile is getting bigger and bigger, take over 200 weapons, automatic weapons, pistols, handguns. The boss makes a decision these guys are going to be formed up on the road and walked down all the way back to the barracks."

The police wanted to get into vehicles but eventually were convinced to walk, unarmed, between rows of UN police cars.

UN colours were on display and its flag led the way. The men trusted in the international power of the light blue.

They travelled down the road and came to an intersection. Maj Martyn spotted a FFTL soldier standing on a corner with a UN police officer.

"It caught my attention because he was a rather large FFTL soldier and he's holding a weapon.

"It's apparent that the soldier standing with the UNPOL (UN police) officer sees somebody that he particularly identifies, it was just the body language and his head movements so he skirted around the UNPOL officer and raised his weapon."

At that stage a man on the other side of the intersection raised his weapon and started automatic fire into the front of the column.

"This guy with the UNPOL officer on the other side also starts firing. . . so everyone in the column between the cars hits the ground, a lot of the police officers jump out of the cars and hit the ground – yeah it gets a bit blurry from there on."

Maj Martyn was driving the third car from the front.

"I was just trying to register what was going on. The UN police in my car leapt out and hit the road and I'm thinking right I've got to do something, I can't sit here I'm going to be a bloody target.

"So I lay flat on the front seat and tried to get the car into reverse but I've got the gear shift caught in the bottom of my flak jacket. . . just at that stage, because of all of the yelling and screaming that's going on from the PNTL officers, I've got two officers jump into the car on top of the weapons."

Amid the mayhem he eventually gets the car into reverse: "going backwards at a high rate of knots.

He was lucky the cars behind him had moved which allowed him to flee as fast as possible – the two local police in the car WEre crying and suddenly screamed for him to stop. There was a gunner behind them. Some tricky driving and the car makes it back to the police headquarters.

"Of course I've this car full of all of these weapons and ammunition which just make a fantastic target or prize."

Maj Martyn hid the men and stashed the car so the weapons couldn't be stolen. Then it was back to the scene.

Ambulances were on the street and UNCOL vehicles.

"We went up there and at that stage most of the dead or injured had been loaded on to the flatbeds or ambulances so as far as we could see they were only picking up weapons."

The scene he left was one of carnage. Pressed to describe it Maj Martyn said: "There was one particularly bad head wound, fatality, it was possibly the most memorable thing that I saw briefly. A brain on the road. Top of the head gone."

Nine of the police were killed and another was found dead the next day.

The PNTL have blamed the UN for the deaths.

Said Maj Martyn: "If the UN sits back and is riveted to inaction we are not demonstrating the credibility particularly of the UN military in our peacekeeping role.

"You can't stop, you've got to keep doing it. Because you've had a failure this time around through circumstances beyond your control the UN still has to stick by its mandate, its code of ethics and do what is necessary to be done irrespective of the consequences.

"We can only hope and believe things will work out in our favour – there's no guarantees."

But the killings have shaken the public faith in the UN. Sukehiru Hasegawa, special representative of the UN general secretary, wants a full investigation of what he described as a "reprehensible breach" of the agreement to extract the policemen and a serious crime against unarmed police under UN protection.
this story escaped news notice. No wonder.


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