Subject: Tight Indonesian security to safeguard Timor refugee roll-call

Tight Indonesian security to safeguard Timor refugee roll-call

JAKARTA, June 5 (AFP) - Indonesia is preparing tight security and deploying 4,500 police and soldiers armed with shoot-on-sight orders to safeguard the one-day registration of 100,000 East Timorese refugees in West Timor, reports said Tuesday.

"I will deem anyone attempting to scuttle the registration as rebels against the lawful government of the Republic of Indonesia and the police are free to arrest them," the commander of the military command overseeing West Timor, Major General Willem da Costa said, according to the Antara news agency.

If anyone resisted the police efforts, soldiers deployed to assist the police in assuring security will intervene, he added.

"I want to stress that while police have arrest powers, TNI (the army) are here not to arrest but to shoot on sight" if necessary, he added.

The registration will be conducted on Wednesday, and the heads of each of the refugee families will have to decide whether they want to return to East Timor or be resettled in Indonesia.

East Nusa Tenggara Deputy Police Chief Senior Commissioner Gories Mere said 4,504 police and soldiers had been deployed in West Timor to safeguard the registration process, the Jakarta Post daily reported.

Each of the 507 registration stations would be guarded by two soldiers and two policemen, Mere said, urging his men not to let anything disrupt the registration.

"Do not hesitate to take stern measures to save people's lives when they are in danger, in accordance with the prevailing procedure," Mere said.

"This registration is being watched by the international community, so anything that happens here will have international repercussions," he added.

Several US-based non-governmental organizations, in a letter sent to US Ambassador to Indonesia, Robert Gelbard, said it would be impossible to accurately register the refugees while the camps they live in in West Timor are still controlled by pro-Jakarta militias.

"A registration that is safe, free, and accurate will be impossible as long as the Indonesian government and security forces engage in only half-hearted efforts to disarm and disband militia in West Timor and refuse to arrest militia leaders," said a copy of the letter dated June 1.

It said the militia were still intimidating refugees, and spreading disinformation in the camps about conditions in East Timor.

The border between Indonesian-ruled West Timor and East Timor has been closed from June 5 to June 7 for the registration.

The refugees are the last of about 250,000 who were forced across the border by pro-Jakarta militias during an orgy of violence and destruction in the wake of East Timor's vote for independence on August 30, 1999.

More than 100,000 refugees remain in West Timor, according to data released by the registration committee.

But the United Nations and other foreign agencies estimate the number of refugees, most of whom live in squalid camps, at between 50,000 and 100,000.

They are eager to repatriate the refugees ahead of a June 20 deadline to register for elections in East Timor, which is currently under a transitional UN administration.

Some 1,600 registration officials and 80 field supervisors have been fielded for the registration.


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