Subject: Indonesia says East Timor spies caught in West Timor

Agence France Presse July 14, 2000

Indonesia says East Timor spies caught in West Timor


The Indonesian army has caught three men who said they were spying for the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNATET) in the border area of Indonesian-controlled West Timor, the state Antara news agency said Friday.

"As TNI (the armed forces) considered them not dangerous, we just gave them the necessary advice and sent them back to their superiors with a reminder not to provoke enmity here," Antara quoted border security commander Lieutenant Colonel Indra Hidayat as saying.

Hidayat did not give the date when the three were captured.

He said the three East Timorese had said they were sent by UNTAET to "spy on extremist activities" in West Timor where thousands of East Timorese refugees and pro-Indonesian militia remain in refugee camps.

"They said that should they succeed in killing Eurico (Guterres) or some other integration (anti-independence) leaders, they would be given 10 million rupiah (about 1,000 dollars) as an incentive," he noted.

But Hidayat said he was sceptical of the inflitrators' claims because of the stature of Sergio de Mello, the chief UN administrator in East Timor.

"In view of De Mello's important post, it is impossible (that he is one of those who made the instructions). Anyway, I will seek clarification in the next meeting between the chief of the UNTAET Peacekeeping Force (PKF) and the Indonesian military and police," he said.

He also said that the Indonesian army had "done its best" to prevent reverse infiltration by East Timorese refugees in West Timor back to East Timor.

"If they feel it necessary to visit East Timor, they can go through the official routes -- the border posts in Mota Ain or Metamauk, thus avoiding any repercussion," he said.


The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) condemned on Friday Indonesia's lack of cooperation with resolving the problem of East Timorese refugees in West Timor.

"We condemn the continuing violence and the steadily deteriorating security environment in which humanitarian staff have been forced to work," said UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond.

The UNHCR had to interrupt a repatriation program for some 125,000 refugees from West to East Timor scheduled for this week, which mobilised 750 employees at about 50 sites.

Staff members arriving Monday and Tuesday in West Timor faced stone-throwing locals and blocked roads, and were unable to begin work in many locations, notably in the provincial capital Kupang, Redmond said.

In Betun near the border with East Timor, UNHCR buildings were attacked with rocks, injuring one staff member, and damaging a number of vehicles.

Tensions between West Timorese and East Timorese refugees have been on the rise in the past few weeks. The West Timorese resent that the refugees receive free food and other supplies from the international community.

Both groups are also struggling to gain control of gambling and other illicit activities in the area.

"Despite a memorandum of understanding with the government last October," Redmond said, "Indonesian authorities are still unable or unwilling to ensure full and unhindered access to refugees."

"UNHCR and its partners want to help the refugees decide their own future, free of the intimidation and misinformation that have characterized the camps in West Timor for months," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of East Timorese fled from the violence that preceded and followed the referendum on independence in August 1999.

More than 160,000 refugees who fled the violence for West Timor or other Indonesian islands have since returned home, 120,000 of them with the UNHCR's help.

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