Australian Soldiers draw arms on Jordanian "Peace Keepers"
By Mark Dodd
March 21, 2005
The Australian (No longer stored)
AUSTRALIAN soldiers drew arms to protect themselves from Jordanian peacekeepers after a Digger (Australian Soldier) blew the whistle on other Jordanian soldiers' sexual abuse of East Timorese boys.
Corporal Andrew Wratten had to be evacuated and Australian commandos sent to protect Diggers in Oecussi, an East Timorese province in Indonesian West Timor, after he told the UN of the paedophilia that occurred in May 2001.
The Australians drew their Steyr assault rifles after being confronted by Jordanians armed with M-16s, in an escalation of verbal threats triggered by the betrayal of Corporal Wratten by a Jordanian officer in the Dili headquarters of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor.
Corporal Wratten, who was working at a fuel dump in the enclave, was told by a group of children that Jordanian soldiers had offered food and money in exchange for oral sex and intercourse.
The allegations involved East Timorese minors, all boys, the youngest of them just 12 years old.
"Wratten informed PKF (peacekeeping force) that he had been receiving complaints from local children about Jorbatt (Jordan Battalion) abuse," said a senior UN official who was based in Oecussi at the time.
"A Jordanian officer in HQ informed Jorbatt that he had ratted on them. Wratten and his guys manning the helo (helicopter) refuelling pad in Oecussi town started getting threatened.
"There was one occasion where Aussie Steyrs were pointed at Jorbatt and Jorbatt M-16s pointed at Aussies."
A secret report into the abuse, obtained by The Australian, led to the expulsion of two Jordanian peacekeepers after an investigation ordered by then UNTAET chief, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, in July 2001.
East Timorese human rights workers have confirmed the story. However, retired Australian major-general Roger Powell, the deputy UN force commander at the time, did not return The Australian's calls.
"As far as I understand, De Mello was very sensitive at the time to the harm such reports would have on the reputation of UNTAET, PKF - and by default himself," said one Western security analyst, based in East Timor in 2001.
Jordan's key role in Middle East peace negotiations added extra sensitivity.
In July 2001, a UN police specialist child interview team flew to Oecussi and spoke to 10 witnesses, including seven minors and three adults.
"The unacceptable sexual conduct alleged was that a minor had sperm around his mouth," the resulting report says.
The board of inquiry found in its report that Jordanian troops regularly offered food and money in exchange for sexual favours from women and boys, including the procuring of prostitutes from across the border in West Timor.
It found it was highly probable that widespread sexual misconduct had occurred after the Jordanians took over from the highly regarded Australian paratroop battalion in early 2000.
“ If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival.
“There may be even a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves”
Winston Churchill. Pg.310 “The Hell Makers” John C. Grover ISBN # 0 7316 1918 8