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Subject: AFP: Indonesia suspends sending settlers to E. Timor
Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 09:23:40 +0000
From: Tapol

Received from Joyo

Indonesia suspends sending settlers to East Timor

JAKARTA, Dec 15 (AFP) - Jakarta has decided to temoprarily suspend the sending of Indonesian settlers to the troubled territory of East Timor under a government-sponsored "transmigration" program, a press report said Tuesday.

Jakarta-appointed East Timor Governor Jose Osorio Abilio Soares was quoted by the Kompas daily as saying that the resettlement program will be halted because of the political "situation and conditions" in East Timor.

"Since this program was launched, migrants from outside East Timor have year in, year out, suffered from pressure, terror and intimidation," Soares said, adding that some migrants had even been shot by pro-independence rebels in Lospalos, at the eastern tip of East Timor.

He said the migrants' efforts to resettle there were also repeatedly hampered by political unrest and extortion and terror by "local individuals."

"This is not related to the issue of ethnicity, religion, race and culture but it is because the political status of East Timor is not yet settled," he said.

Abilio gave no figure on the number of transmigrants resettled in East Timor so far, but in 1989 the figure was put officially at some 500 families.

The program aims to move out millions of Indonesians from the densely populated islands of Java, Bali and Madura to the less-populated outer islands.

Indonesia annexed the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1976 after its troops invaded it the previous year but the United Nations continues to view Lisbon as the official administrator there.

A pro-independence movement has been providing armed resistance against the Indonesian presence since 1975.

Tension between migrants, mostly Moslems, and the predominatly Christian population of East Timor, has flared several times in the past, leading to the destruction of Moslem-owned businesses and mosques there.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 1420 80153 Email: Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh, 1973-1998

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