Subject: E. Timorese refugees coming to grips with political situation

The Jakarta Post October 6, 2000

E. Timorese refugees coming to grips with political situation

DENPASAR, Bali (JP): Chief of the Udayana Military Command Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri said pro-integration East Timorese could be divided into three groups in their efforts to pursue their struggle -- realists, conservatives and opportunists.

According to Kiki, whose command is responsible for security in East Nusa Tenggara, more and more "refugees" are now more conscious of being law abiding and can differentiate between "doing something for the sake of the struggle and doing something which is against the law".

He said the realists are those who are willing to accept the situation and work for their cause from within the political means available in East Timor, including setting up political parties in the former province which lean towards Indonesia.

The conservatives still demand that the United Nations acknowledge that violations occurred during last year's ballot and demand that they be given 21 percent of the territory in East Timor.

"But some from this group have shifted to become realists," Kiki remarked.

The final group, the opportunists, only try to exploit the situation, including the presence of some 130,000 East Timorese refugees sheltered across East Nusa Tenggara.

"This (the exploitation) is occurring in Kupang and Atambua where you see such things as extortion," Kiki remarked.

Speaking to journalists here on Thursday, Kiki also said the latest situation in various refugee camps in West Timor was quiet following the arrest of notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres in Jakarta on Wednesday. "This morning (Thursday) at about 7 a.m. I checked, and just now one of my staff did the same and reports were that everything was quiet in Atambua and Kupang," Kiki said.

He admitted that there had been a minor disturbance when news initially spread about Eurico's arrest, however, the situation was soon calm.

Eurico was arrested by police after he was named as a suspect in last year's violence in East Timor.


Meanwhile in Yogyakarta, former East Timor governor Jose Abilio Soares has opposed President Abdurrahman Wahid's suggestion to send East Timor refugees to the island of Buru, saying that the refugees deserve the right to choose their own place to live in Indonesia.

"We are now in West Timor (East Nusa Tenggara), so just let us live there and help us build our life there. As Timorese, we have the right to live in Timor. No one can move us from there. Not even God," he told reporters on Wednesday.

The President said on Wednesday in Ottawa, Canada, during his overseas trip that the government would relocate the 130,000 East Timorese refugees to Buru island (Maluku) in order that they could not have contact with East Timorese in Dili.

Hard-liners of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) were incarcerated on Buru island in the 1960s.

Abilio briefed reporters after meeting with Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X at the gubernatorial office complex in Kepatihan.

Abilio said he visited the sultan to express gratitude for the 30 sets of knockdown bamboo houses for the East Timor refugees in Atambua early this year. "I also asked him to take care of East Timorese living in Yogyakarta."

Abilio blamed the international community, in this case the United Nations, for events in East Timor, saying that all the disasters in the former 27th province of Indonesia were the result of an international conspiracy to destroy Indonesia. "The direct victim of the conspiracy is us, the Timorese people," he said.

That is why, Abilio said, that the disarmament of pro-Jakarta militia was the responsibility of the United Nations, not the government of Indonesia. "If we talk about militia disarmament, we must also talk about the Fretilin's men. Therefore, it is the UN that is to be held responsible," he said.

He also blamed the UN for the riots that occurred after the August 1999 ballot offered by then president Habibie. "Former president Habibie alone cannot be held responsible for the mayhem.

"The vote was held under international pressure. They (the UN) engineered the balloting in such a way that the result that came out was different from what was expected. Habibie was forced to accept what the rest of the world wanted. He had no choice because of our economic dependence on the international community," he said.

Abilio's statements were in response to militia leader Eurico Guterres' statement that Habibie should take responsibility for what happened in East Timor after the August 1999 ballot. "The only party responsible for the destruction in East Timor is the UN," he added. (swa/zen)

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