Subject: Digest of West .Timor press, March 31 - April 1

Digest of West .Timor press, March 31 - April 1

A friend in West Timor writes:

Because the local NTT press plays a role in shaping opinions of both citizens and refugees, I want to help the international community know what they are writing. some of you received last Sept.-Nov. There are now at least 5 local newspapers with fairly wide (regional) distribution: _NTT Ekspres_, _Pos Kupang_, _Surya Timor_, _Suara Timor_, and _Sasando Pos_. Degrees of responsible journalism fluctuate widely. Of these five, I believe only _Pos Kupang_ is available on the web, and that in Indonesian. Fuller translations of selected articles will be done on request.

Friday, 31 March 2000


* Korem 164, Wira Dharma, is liquidated"

KUPANG - Korem [Military Command Resort] 164 that operated in E. Timor since 1974 was officially liquidated on Thursday (30/3) during a military ceremony in Kupang led by Major General Kiki Syahnakri. Besides the liquidation of Korem 164, the liquidation of Yonif (Infantry Battalion) 745 was also announced while the entire personnel of Yonif 744 has been transferred to Naibonat in East Kupang sub- region where they will wait on the continuation of their placement process. Some members of Yonif 745 have joined with other Yonif in the Udayana Kodam [military command covering several provinces in eastern Indo. with headquarters in Bali], while others from E. Timor have chosen to return to the land of their birth. "The name East Timor will never be forgotten in my life," said Kiki who worked in E. Timor for 11 years and is fluent in Tetun. "I have a very strong emotional tie with Wira Dharma Korem and E. Timor."

Kiki recalled the great prestige of unity when Rogerio Lobato, a commander of the Fretilin army, was shot and the sweeping operation in Aitana. Also the capture of Xanana Gusmao from the hole where he was hiding. This prestige was achieved due to high discipline. Syahnakri also told ex-soldiers of Korem 164 not to forget the struggle they had engaged in all this time in defending the nation and state. "All of you are heroes," he said.

* "Ex-E. Timor soldiers continue to receive support"

KUPANG -- Major General Kiki Syahnakri asks that soldiers from ex- Korem 164/Wira Dharma [based in Dili] exercise patience and don't get emotional because they will continue to receive support. At the ceremony to liquidate this Korem (30 March), Syahnakri said he had spoken with the Indonesian Defense Minister, Dr. Sudarsono, and that Sudarsono said he would go "all out" to advocate on behalf of this. He added that soldiers be further patient because the recompense process for ex-E. Timor soldiers was experiencing some barriers because at this time Indonesia is still overwhelmed by various crises.

* "Tightening border security, Kostrad [strategic forces] adds one battalion"

KUPANG - Kiki Syahnakri stressed that the armed forces will tighten security along the Indonesian-E. Timor border and will take harsh action towards anyone crossing the border who intentionally treads on the sovereignty of Indonesia in the border region. To insure the sovereignty of Indonesia in the border region, one Kostrad battalion of about 689 personnel, will be added. "We don't want the sovereignty of our state tread upon by those who don't have that right. We will act harshly if that happens."

* "UNHCR continues to help refugees go home"

ATAMBUA - Although according to the plan other humanitarian aid from the Indonesia government will cease after 31 March, UNHCR will continue to help E. Timorese refugees return home from W. Timor. "Aid for refugees in about 200 camps in the W. Timor region will cease and the Indonesia government will give refugees the opportunity to choose whether they want to stay in Indonesia or return to E. Timor," read the UNHCR press release received in Atambua. In a recent trip to Jakarta, UNHCR rep. Soren Jessen-Petersen asked the govt. to give refugees plenty of time to make their decision. Former vice-Bishop of the Atambua diocese, Pastor Edmundus Nahak, Pr, said, "Many E. Timorese refugees actually want to return home to the land of their birth if the political and security situation in that region has begun to improve. However, if that's their attitude it means they only want to receive what's nice while they still hang the fate of their daily lives on the charity of others in the refugee camps."

Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission, Pastor David Amfotis, said he had obtained news that a number of ex-refugees who had been repatriated with the aid of UNHCR had apparently returned again to West Timor because they had experienced economic difficulties. "If they return to West Timor just because of economic difficulties that action is only the desire to search for what's easy in this life. They must work hard to begin turning the soil in the fields and use all their energy to sustain life not run from that difficulty." He said many refugees appeared to enjoy getting aid from various NGOs without doing a bit of work. Thus his organization had pressured various NGOs in West Timor to change their patterns of giving aid.

* "Refugees regret Yasso act"

ATAMBUA - E. Timor refugees regret how Yasso unfairly distributed aid in Manuaman, Atambua City, last Monday (27/3). "We are all refugees, so why did some get and some not get [aid]? Furthermore, Yasso took back home a lot of that aid, about one truck."

* UNTAET will help the Supreme Court"

JAKARTA - Sergio de Mello said that UNTAET is ready to give data to help the efforts of the [Indonesian] Supreme Court to investigate human rights abuses in E. Timor. "At this time there is bilateral cooperation in legal matters between UNTAET and Indonesia."


Caption under front page foto showing Joanico Soares speaking before refugees and military officers: MILITIA ENTER ARMED FORCES -- Former members of Integration Struggle Forces (PPI) or pro-integration militia hope the Indonesian government will recruit them to become members of the armed forces. This, among other hopes, was put forward by Joanico Cesario Soares, former Commander of PPI A Sector to the Indonesian Defense Minister, Prof. Dr. Juwono Sudarsono, at the Tuapukan camp, Kupang Region, last Wednesday (29/3).

* "490 E. Timor refugees die"

KUPANG - Data from the Kupang Regency Civil defense notes that since September 1999 490 E. Timor refugees staying in camps in Kupang Regency have died. The major cause of death has been respiratory diseases and dysentery.

* "Kiki: Leave old ways"

KUPANG - During the liquidation ceremony of Korem 164, Kiki Syahnakri hopes that personnel from this former E. Timor Korem will leave their common ways while on duty in E. Timor and continue to make an effort at increasing their prestige and kinergy in a new place.

* "Indonesia asked to continue aid"

KUPANG - In a press release sent to Pos Kupang, UNHCR expresses its hope that the govt. will continue to provide aid, although it has already set 31 March as the date for terminating assistance. This hope is based on the MOU signed on 14 Oct. 1999.

* "UNTAET wants to corner Gus Dur's government"

JAKARTA - Former commander of Sector C pro-integration militia, Cansio Lopes De Carvalho said in Jakarta that the request from UNTAET head, Gen. De Milo [sic], to immediately move militia and refugees from the border region between E. Timor and NTT province actually is to pressure and corner the Indonesian government because our state is in the middle of overwhelming crises that are not yet resolved.

* "Security according to procedure"

ATAMBUA - UNHCR head in West Timor, Alias Bin Ahmad, said that the security actions of UN civil police as well as UNPKF regarding returning refugees always followed responsible procedures. "Returning E. Timorese refugees are always given a guarantee of security by both UNHCR and IOM that safety to their destination is guaranteed."


* "Move militia from the border / Gus Dur answers Sergio de Mello's complaint"

JAKARTA - President Abdurrahman Wahid will make an effort to move pro- integration groups from the NTT-Timor Lorosae border region because UNTAET has complained that these groups repeatedly and illegitimately enter E. Timor.

* "80,000 E. Timor refugees want to stay in NTT"

KUPANG - Up to now the NTT govt. would prefer that E. Timor refugees currently scattered throughout various camps in NTT go home to E. Timor because, among other reasons, the social economic situation of NTT isn't strong enough for the people of NTT whatmore refugees. Despite this desire, it doesn't influence those refugees who are determined to remain in NTT because they consider it their homeland.

* "Korem 164/WD liquidated/ Commander Kiki: Indonesia holds high democracy"

KUPANG - In front of the soldiers Kiki related, long and broadly, about the military presence in E. Timor from 1974 to 1999. He told how at the end of 1974, when E. Timor was still colonized as Portuguese Timor how he was among those who handled the problem of Portuguese Timor at the border together with SK Lerik, current mayor of Kupang.

* "29 Military and Police cases ready to be tried in Kupang military court"

KUPANG - For three weeks, from the middle of April through early May 2000, at least 29 cases from the military and police in NTT region will be tried in the Kupang military court. That means that TNI and police sores in this region will be exposed. According to Lt. Col. Anas Chaniago, head of the military court, those accused include military and police members who served in E. Timor for abuses they committed while on duty there.

* "Thousands of citizens at the border threatened by poor harvest"

ATAMBUA - As many as 19,615 citizens in 15 villages in the Lamaknen sub-regency of Belu Regency are threatened by hunger. This number is expected to increase because it doesn't yet include thousands of refugees who choose to remain in this area. According to Sub-regency head, Drs. Silverius Mau, the reason for this disaster is the turmoil following the E. Timor referendum, then people became scared to use farmland along the border.

"Belu Police Chief: Immigration to immediately place personnel"

ATAMBUA - Belu Chief of Police, Lt. Col. Drs. SM Simatupang S., stresses that immigration shouldn't take forever in placing personnel at the NTT-Timor Lorosae border because border matters are very pressing. If not, society will be more confused by the double functions being played by the armed forces and police.


Saturday, 1 April 2000


[After the effort to relocate Korem 164 from Dili to Flores failed, perhaps another tactic is being tried? In Indonesia, each province has its own Korem. - Ed.]

* "Not yet pressing for Flores to become a province"

KUPANG - Dr. Kamelus Deno, a professor of law at Undana [state university in Kupang] said there is no strong reason for Flores to become a province. His comment was in response to a recent statement by Frans Seda who has said that if Flores is to become a new province, it is best if the people of Flores make the effort and that it not be something engineered by the elite.

? Version that appears in today's Surya Timor is entitled "Flores can become a province": The struggle begun early in 1999 for Flores to become a province has been raised again by Flores leader, Frans Seda, when he said it would be proper for Flores to become a province. It's a great idea if seen from the perspective of accelerating development.

* "New colonization happening in E. Timor"

ATAMBUA - Florentino Sarmento has said that a kind of new multinational colonization is happening in E. Timor that is causing the people there to suffer more than during the period of integration with Indonesia. "Based on the report by E. Timor Yayasan HAK that was given to me, the people of East Timor say that a new form of colonization is happening to the people of East Timor." He explained that ia get a lot of reports from pro-independence groups in Dili. The presence of a lot of foreigners who have jobs in the transitional government apparently does not bring a fresh wind to the desires of East Timorese for independence. "But it is precisely very sickening, because white-skinned people who work in the transitional government under the leadership of Sergio de Melo live happily, eat in international restaurants and go around in fancy cars while the people of East Timor themselves have difficulty improving their homes that have been ruined."

? Same headline, "New colonization happening in E. Timor," but longer article also appears in today's Surya Timor.

* "Moko Soares' car causes commotion"

KEFAMENANU - The microlet car owned by Moko Soares, who is currently under arrest for owning and selling fire arms, and that was brought from Oecusse after the referendum last 30 August is now an issue at the Napan border post. Ms. Paskuela, wife of Fedelis Abi, via her mediator Antoni Dacouncevao, claims the car is hers. It was explained that Moko Soares is a close family member of Fidelis Abi so that the Paskuela family trusted Moko to use the car, but after the referendum the car was not returned but was painted and its color changed. Apparently the car was being used by Soares to look for passengers currently operating in Kefa.

* "Refugees the responsibility of UNHCR"

KUPANG - NTT governor, Piet Tallo, told reporters that beginning today and continuing, the handling of ex-E. Timor refugees in W. Timor will be the full responsibility of UNHCR. This means the Indonesian government will no longer allocate funds for refugees and that the NTT government that has been busy with refugee matters during this time will now turn its attention to regional development. In response, UNHCR staff person Nusya Margono said that UNHCR could not possibly handle all problems of refugees still staying in a number of camps in West Timor if the NTT govt. really stopped all forms of aid like assistance with health, drinking water, food and places where people stay such as GOR [Kupang sports stadium] and Fatululi [transit site for refugees returning to Timor Lorosae].

? "Beginning today, refugees become responsibility of UNHCR": title of similar article as it appears in today's Surya Timor.

* "Police use detector to examine refugee belongings"

KUPANG - Police at the Fatululi embarkation site have increased security with the use of a [metal] detector to examine items of refugees returning to their villages in East Timor. Coordinator for Repatriation Security, Police Capt. Matheus Ma'u said this was being used to detect items often being smuggled in by refugees such as sharp weapons, ammunition, and fire arms.


* "Refugees receive 5,714 tons of rice"

KUPANG - Thousands of refugees scattered throughout several regencies in NTT received 5,714 tons of rice from the NTT Social Dept. today. The rice is not just for victims of the unrest in E. Timor but also refugees from Ambon and Mataram.

* "Safe, refugee reunion at Napan"

KEFAMENANU - The reunion between East Timor refugees who for now are staying in North Central Timor (TTU) regency with family members in E. Timor (Ambeno) at the Napan (TTU) - Oesilu (Ambenu) border went safely and smoothly on Thursday (30/3). This is different than what happened at the meeting the week before that was disrupted by the presence of someone with a psychological disturbance. About 6000 people were estimated to have gathered at last week's gathering, while this week there were only 5,429 visitors.

? Similar article - "Thousands of citizens attend reunion program at border" -- appears in today's Surya Timor.

* "Former Vice-KSAD [Army Chief of Staff] brought to American court"

NEW YORK - The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is bringing former Vice Army Chief of Staff, Major General Johny Lumintang, to court in the US for his role in human rights abuses in E. Timor.

? Similar article - "General Johny Lumintang brought to court in the US" -- appears in today's Surya Timor -complete with a photo of Lumintang.

SURYA TIMOR [articles not mentioned above]

* "5000 TNI soldiers fell in E. Timor"

KUPANG - After Wednesday's ceremony liquidating Korem Wira Dharma, Major General Kiki Syahnakri told reporters that 5000 soldiers disappeared - 3000 of whom were buried in the military cemetery in E. Timor -- during their period of service in E. Timor beginning in 1975.

* "Australian military breaks through NTT-E. Timor border"

DENPASAR - Kiki Syahnakri said a letter of protest had already been sent to the UNTAET commander regarding the incursion of one military group entering Indonesian territory along the NTT - E. Timor border on 22 March. "We have already sent a note of harsh protest for the action of the Australian army that is joined with UNTAET forces in E. Timor. What are they doing by suddenly sneaking into Indonesian territory if not an unpraiseworthy action?.They entered stealthily via Silawan Village, NTT, however they had only come about 150 meters into Indonesian territory before they were caught so that they immediately returned to E. Timor territory."

* "Refugees ridicule UNICEF's prime mission"

ATAMBUA - The main mission of providing refugees with health services extended by Atambua and TTU [North Central Timor] UNICEF together with Perdhaki of the Atambua diocese offer health and welfare to refugees. Nevertheless, it is as if all these efforts are ridiculed by refugees with a cold shoulder.

* "10 KUKRI [Indonesian Office for Important Matters] employees pressure Department of Foreign Affairs to complete Dili communique"

ATAMBUA - At least ten workers from KUKRI who originate from W. Timor, NTT have pressed the Dept. of Foreign Affairs to immediately conclude the communique with Dili for carrying out activities in E. Timor. "We already passed the exam that was given in Atambua before Presiden Wahid visited E. Timor at the end of February. And according to the plan we would begin active work after Presiden Gus Dur returned from that visit," said Klemens Mau, one of the KUKRI candidates. Mau and nine colleagues still wait for a call from Dili by the officer who has been appointed by the central government to lead KUKRI. Right now there are two KUKRI officers from the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Office carrying out their duties in Dili.

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