Subject: Aid workers threatened by Indonesian police in W Timor

The Age [Melbourne] Wednesday 16 February 2000

Aid workers threatened by Indonesian police


International aid workers were threatened at gunpoint by Indonesian police while accompanying a group of East Timorese refugees home from West Timor, officials said yesterday.

Staff of the International Organisation for Migration and the United Nations' refugee agency said they were leading a convoy of trucks yesterday returning 181 East Timorese from camps near Kefamenanu to a processing centre at Batugade on the other side of the border when they were stopped by two Indonesian officers.

The officers demanded money before firing their guns in the air.

Mr Ogi Martinez, of the International Organisation for Migration, said that despite having an escort of five police officers from Kefamenanu, the convoy was held up for 15 minutes.

"When we stopped, I got out of my vehicle and walked to the front where one of our local staff was talking with a policeman.

"He then turned around and pointed the gun at my stomach ... I was extremely frightened," Mr Martinez said. "I've never had anything like this happen to me before."

Speaking in Batugade after the refugees had safely negotiated the crossing back into East Timor, Mr Chudy Uzowulu, of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said a complaint would be lodged with Indonesian authorities.

"The events should be thoroughly documented," he said.

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