Subject: Wahid Vows to Act Against Militia in Timor: UN Official

Jakarta vows to act against militia in Timor: UN official

JAKARTA, March 30 (AFP) - Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid on Thursday pledged to act against Timor militia activists, who have been the main obstacle to the repatriation of some 100,000 refugees to East Timor, a UN official said here.

The head of the UN transitional administration in East Timor (UNTAET), Sergio Viera de Mello, said militia activities in the border area between West and East Timor remained the main problem hindering the East Timorese refugees' repatriation.

Speaking after meeting with Wahid, De Mello said he received assurances that the president "will again talk to (armed forces chief) Admiral Widodo on the question of security along our borders."

He said after earlier meetings with Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono and Major General Kiki Syahnakri of the Udayana military command, which oversees West Timor, the two officials told him they would review the situation.

"He (Syahnakri) demonstrated to us that the TNI and police are able to crackdown on these attackers."

"I appeal to them to do the same with the small groups (of militia) that are operating in the Atambua area."

De Mello said the Indonesian armed forces had also assured him they "will be taking the same stern measures against these people as they did against members of another militia that infiltrated into Oecussi area in January."

Atambua is the main town in the Indonesian district of Belu that neighbors East Timor.

The region has sheltered the bulk of the some 250,000 East Timorese who had fled to West Timor or had been forced to flee there after pro-Indonesian militias went on an unchecked rampage across East Timor following the announcement of the pro-independence ballot results there in September last year.

Some 150,000 refugees have since returned to East Timor.

De Mello said the only way to solve problems which have hampered the repatriation program was to remove "the extremists that continue to harass them, to spread lies, disinformation in the camps in Atambua."

"Move them away from there, disarm them, demobilize them, remove the only obstacle to the return of these people," de Mello told journalists.

"I appealed to him (Wahid) today that this actually happens because these people are working against the proper agenda of the Indonesian government," de Mello said.

Calling Wahid the "greatest ally," of UNTAET, de Mello said both East Timor and Indonesia needed Wahid to "remain personally committed to the normalization of relations."

Indonesian authorities have said they planned to resettle the remaining East Timorese refugees near Kupang, the main town in West Timor, and on several islands in East Nusatenggara as well as in Sulawesi and Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo.

But they have given the refugees until March 31 to decide whether they want to return to East Timor or remain in Indonesian territory. The government said it would cut off its aid to the refugees on the same date.

Back to March Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from