Subject: AFP: Indonesian general warns East Timorese refugees against rioting

Also: "UNTAS: Best if those involved went home"; Nawen Case Shows East Timorese Can't Assimilate

Indonesian general warns East Timorese refugees against rioting

JAKARTA, Jan 8 (AFP) - A senior Indonesian military commander Monday warned East Timorese refugees in camps in West Timor against stirring up trouble or said they could face immediate deportation.

"I wish to stress, and remind refugees, they are staying in the garden of their brothers and therefore should not engage in actions that could harm them, the citizens of Indonesia," Major General Willem da Costa said, quoted by the Antara news agency.

Da Costa heads the Bali-based Udayana military command that oversees security in West Timor.

Refugees who stirred up problems would be deported, he said, but the Antara report did not say where to.

"The refugees in the camps should understand and avoid sullying the name of the state of Indonesia," Da Costa also said.

Tension between Indonesians and more than 100,000 East Timorese refugees in camps across the Indonesian territory of West Timor periodically erupts into brawls. Scores of people were injured and houses torched last year.

In the latest violence, hundreds of East Timorese refugees attacked the Poto resettlement camp, 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the West Timorese main city of Kupang, in the final days of 2000, burning at least 100 houses belonging to local Indonesias and injuring several people.

The attack followed a trivial dispute during a local football match.

In September last year, hundreds of machete-wielding East Timorese attacked the office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees in the West Timor border town of Atambua killing three foreign workers.

The incident sparked worldwide indignation and put the government under pressure to disarm and control the East Timorese militias in West Timor.

More than 300,000 East Timorese fled across the border into West Timor during a militia campaign of terror and violence that followed East Timor's vote to break away from Indonesia in September 1999.

Many have since been repatriated but about 100,000 are still holed up in squalid camps in West Timor, where the militias are said to hold sway.

bs/jkb AFP end

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Monday, 8 January 2001

NTT X ­ "UNTAS: Best if those involved went home"

KUPANG ­ According to a press release signed on Thurs. (7/1), it would be best if those E. Timorese involved in the Poto case since the end of last Dec. go home to E. Timor immediately. Untas thinks the Indo. government's relocation program was on behalf of a decent living for E. Timorese who choose to remain in Indonesia, but it has been burned by E. Timorese themselves. Untas regrets and strongly criticizes the burnings by E. Timorese because that act clearly is opposed to religious values, Indonesian law, and traditional customs (adat). They feel the action has ruined the good name of E. Timorese who seek to adapt to life in W. Timor and will also have an impact on the continuation of the resettlement program. They urge law enforcers to prosecute the perpetrators without exception. They also feel that the struggle that has been called the Red White struggle has also been belittled by their coordinated actions of burning, looting, and murdering innocent people.

Untas hopes the people of NTT will not be easily baited by an issue intentionally created by certain individuals and not to get involved in the conflict because that could lead to greater losses. On behalf of all E. Timorese in W. Timor, Untas apologizes to the residents of NTT in general, and in particular to those victims who had things disappear during the conflict.

The Poto resettlement site totaled 168 households, 15 of whom were TNI, 3 from Maluku and 129 local residents. About 300 houses were burned in the fighting which quickly escalated when refugees from nearby refugee camps joined E. Timorese in the settlement to attack local residents. Sulamu social leader, Hen Taulo, has taken the initiative to hold a dialog involving local and E. Timorese leaders so that the Poto Local Transmigration case won't be repeated in the future. As of Fri. (5/1) the situation had returned to normal, but the people were still suffering from trauma and a lot had not returned. Some are frightened because when E. Timorese were evacuated they threw threats, saying they would be back to raze the transmigration site and surrounding area.

Head of the Office for Natl. Unity for Kupang Regency, Sonny Sayd, said that the Sub-regent of Fatuleu and the Poto village head have been asked to find and motivate residents to return to the local transmigration site and their home in Nawen. To facilitate information, the head of transmigration in NTT has placed CB radios at the local transmigration sites in Tulakabuak and Sulamu and it is planned to soon place one in Poto. As many as 86 E. Timor households have been evacuated to Naibonat.

Separately, Kupang House of Reps. Speaker, Ruben Funay, told reporters on Sat. (6/1) that House members would immediately observe the location in Nawen to find out what steps the govt. needed to take in solving the problem so that the situation could return to normal and both local residents and E. Timorese could keep from fighting each other. Earlier, Sarah Lery Mboeik, Director of the Information Center for People's Advocacy (PIAR) criticized Regency govt. policy, saying that it only moved the conflict, not solved it. She said that building security posts was not the best way to solve the problem and would only quell it momentarily.

[Also covered in ST ­ "Following Nawen unrest: All E. Timor refugees have been evacuated to Naibonat," ST ­ "Kupang House of Reps. members will go to Nawen," and "Untas curses Poto burning incident"]

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NTT X ­ NTT Ekspres; PK ­ Pos Kupang

Friday, 5 January 2001

NTT X—Nawen Case Shows East Timorese Can't Assimilate

KUPANG ­ Recent conflicts between refugees and local residents at the Nawen resettlement area in Poto village, which left more than a hundred houses burned, show that East Timorese are unable to mix with local residents peacefully, according to provincial government spokesman Y. Kosapilawan. "Not only are they unable to mix in, these incidents show that the Government of Indonesia's offer to build resettlement facilities in many areas does not provide a solution to the problem of East Timorese refugees," he added. The best remaining solution is for them to return to East Timor. In the meantime, if they are unable to live peacefully in resettlement areas, they will have to return to the refugee camps. "This will only add to their long period of suffering—even though their homeland is geographically before their very eyes," he said.

Kosapilawan explained that at the Poto resettlement area there had been 168 refugee families, including 15 military families and three from Maluku, living together with 129 local families. Following a week of fighting, looting and burning, beginning 26 December with a conflict between local and refugee youth, many of the refugees have been evacuated to camps in Noelbaki, Tuapukan, and Naibonat. Meanwhile, Poto residents who have fled to Kupang with the aid of a local NGO reported that at least 300 are still hiding in the forest without food or shelter, in fear of further attacks by refugees. They also reported fears that a number of their neighbors had been taken hostage by the refugees, and urged the police to respond more forcefully. [Unpublished local reports indicate concerns that armed refugees (militias) are still in control of the village, and that a number of mostly women and children are being held hostage.]

Residents of Poto have called on the government to guarantee their safety and to remove all East Timorese refugees from the area. "Whatever solution they want to come up with, we don't want them anymore," they said. "Their presence has only brought us trouble. Before they came we always lived in peace and safety."

PK interviews provincial legislators, who bemoan the refugees' apparent lack of respect for the sacrifices made by the local population and the government on their behalf. They call for a renewed effort to disarm those holding guns, for refugees to be concentrated again in camps and isolated from the local population, and for efforts at faster repatriation.


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