Subject: Portuguese Ambassador: Pro-Integration Group a Problem

29 May 2000

Surya Timor ≠ "Ana Gomes: Indonesia government and regional government must take a position: UNTAS is one of the problems"

KUPANG -- Portuguese ambassador, Ana Gomes, has received a report saying that those who wish to return to E. Timor must first have the agreement of UNTAS. Because of refugee complaints about this, Ana surmises that UNTAS is one of the problems in repatriating refugees. After meeting with NTT Gov. Tallo on Sat. (27/5), Gomez said, "I myself heard from refugees ≠ they will go home if it is with the agreement of UNTAS. This clearly indicates that they also create obstacles for UNHCR in repatriating refugees." This UNTAS attitude is in conflict with the Indonesian govt. that has committed to work with the UN. Therefore she has pressured the govt. of Indonesia and NTT to take a position regarding UNTAS if the hope of the transitional govt. in E. Timor and of UNTAET is the same as that of the Indonesian and NTT governments ≠ namely that the refugees must return to their own country. UNTAS canít be allowed to do whatever it likes ≠ play maneuvers for its own advantage by victimizing E. Timorese who suffer in refugee camps as if they were no longer human.

During her third visit to refugee camps in Betun, she witnessed the worsening condition of refugees, while pro-integration elites take it easy in Kupang, Jakarta, and other cities. Some of the refugees are still baited by information about the situation in E. Timor that is said to be a dangerous security situation. "But thatís not true. The refugees must still wait for true information about the situation in E. Timor while their condition [here] continues to worsen. In E. Timor, all people are in the middle of slowly rebuilding their economic lives within a secure situation," she explained. She reminded UNTAS not to obstruct the desire of refugees who want to return home and begin to develop their region. "Those who want to participate with UNTAS, go ahead, while those who want to return home to E. Timor must be respected and invited to go. I also have received a report -- a hundred refugees want to go home to E. Timor but have been prevented by UNTAS," she said.

Responding to pressure from Ana Gomez, Gov. Tallo said this is not the time for mutual accusations. "All sides should take responsibility for handling the refugees. What must be remembered ≠ how the refugees psychologically have a tie to the land of their birth. This must be understood by all sides," Tallo expalined. For example, said Tallo, when people receive a pension in the end they return to their villages; itís not because of a philosophy of force. "Iím more inclined to use a theory of meetings rather than a theory of conflict. If thereís conflict, in reality it doesnít settle the problem," said Tallo. He said the government could just take a position [towards UNTAS] ≠ but that it couldnít follow a different culture and behavior. This also needs to be remembered, he said.

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