Subject: Bali migrants from E.Timor occupy office of governor

Indonesian Observer December 19, 2000

Bali migrants occupy office of governor

DENPASAR (IO) - Hundreds of Balinese settlers who fled from East Timor ahead of last year's post-referendum violence yesterday occupied the office of Bali Governor Dewa Made Beratha, demanding they be compensated for the properties and possessions they left behind in the former Indonesian province.

The protesters, from 59 families, had left the resort island of Bali and moved to East Timor in the 1970s and 80s under the government's controversial transmigration scheme.

Each family is now demanding 2.5 hectares of land, financial assistance to build a house, and welfare payments to help them meet their basic needs.

The protesters, most of them women and children, were led by Dewa Putu Arnawa, a former migrant from East Timor's Buleleng district. They displayed banners criticizing the Bali administration for failing to look after them, with slogans such as "Don't oppress our rights" and "We want a guarantee".

"We will occupy the governor's office until we have a guarantee that our rights will be respected. We are bored by mere promises," said Arnawa, receiving applause from the other protesters.

"What's the different between us and the East Timorese refugees living in Kupang or Atambua [in West Timor]? They get aid from the United Nations, but we don't. Why does the provincial administration office apply a policy of discrimination?" he asked.

He said the former transmigrants will not budge from the front yard of the governor's office until Beratha agrees to give them land for housing.

"We used to be appreciated for our achievements in farming. But when we returned home after having been transmigrants, we have received unfair treatment," said a farmer who had lived in East Timor for 18 years.

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