Subject: West Timor newspaper summaries 4 - 10 May

West Timor Press Summaries

4th May - 10th May

NTT X - NTT Ekspres; PK - Pos Kupang; ST - Surya Timor; RT - Radar Timor; SP - Sasando Pos

4th May

SP: In a bid towards reconciliation among the East Timorese, members of pro-integration fighters are slated to meet with members of Falintil in Bali for two days (May 5 and 6, 2001). At least 16 members of former pro-integration fighters, including the former vice- commander, Eurico Guterres, will attend the meeting, said Joanico Cesario, former commander of Sector A in Kupang on Wednesday (3/5). Amnesty and reconciliation will be on the agenda of the meeting. As a follow up action of the meeting, there will be exchange visits made by the two groups. FDTL (another pro-independece group) will also visit West Timor to meet with the refugees at the camps. Upsala University and UNTAET are the parties to facilitate the meeting.

SP: Staff from the Coordinating Minister for Political, Social, and Security Affairs is scheduled to meet with the Head of Transmigration and Manpower Office of NTT to discuss technical matters prior to the registration of refugees in June this year. The meeting will be conducted on May 5th but the ministry official will meet with Police Chief (Kapolda) of NTT, Brig. Gen. Jacky Uly. Separately, UNTAS spokesperson, Mario Vieira, SE stated that UNTAS would delegate 13 members from different regencies to attend the meeting. Mario appealed to any party attending the meeting not to use the term 'option' since the word is associated with past trauma.

RT: Police Chief, Brig. Gen. Jacky Uly was upset with the controversy around the bomb found recently at the Bishop of Atambua's residence. As clarification, he furiously stated that the bomb found was fake and was assembled to look like a bomb to terrorise the people of Atambua, Belu. The commander stated that as former Gegana (Special Bomb Expert Force) Commander for four years, and having studied things related to bombs in Britain, he had sufficient expertise to state that the bomb was fake. He had delegated Kadit IPP Polda NTT, Chief Commr. Hidayat Fabanyo to give clarification of the bomb to the bishop and the people of Atambua.

RT: The position of Borderline Security Taskforce Commander was handed over from Let Col. Irwan Kusnadi to Let.Col. Magna Chandra. Commander of Army Reserve Strategic Command (Pangkostrad). Let. Gen. Ryamizard Raycudu affirmed this replacement saying that the ceremony will take place in the taskforce base in Haliwen Village Atambua, Belu. People assume that the replacement was done since Commander Kusnadi was considered to have failed in handling existing borderline problems such as smuggling, illegal trade, and illegal crossing of the borders. Let. Gen. Raycudu refuted this saying that the replacement was a regular exercise in TNI and had nothing to do with the persisting problems at the border. Pangkostrad also denied rumours saying that TNI had dispatched elite troops at the border in a bid to reoccupy East Timor.

RT: At about 11am yesterday (03/05), Commander of Army Reserve Strategic Command, Let. Gen. Ryamizard Raycudu attended a farewell ceremony for his two deceased subordinates; 1st let. S. Bakara and Chief Brig. Mustafa, before the corpses were flied to their homeland. The two military members died following an incident occurring at Mahata Post two days ago . 1st Let. Bakara, believed to be greatly depressed, had shot his subordinate, Chief. Brig. Mustafa, before committing suicide. Mustafa was referred to the hospital but later died there.

RT: Col. Neil Tompson, Australian Defence attach‚ for Indonesia, admitted that the situation in West Timor had improved, and he promised to report this to the Australian Embassy to help revoke the UN Security Phase V status in the area.The attach‚ visited East-West Timor border-town, Atambua, taking land route from Kupang, and admitted that the situation was really conducive.

RT: Refugees are delighted with the planned visit by Bishop Baucau, Amo Basilio do Nascimento to West Timor. They expressed their readiness to welcome the bishop and considered the visit as a hope towards a true reconciliation. Bishop Amo Basilio is a respected figure among the refugees, his words would always be obeyed.

5th May

NTT X: In an opening speech at the hand-over ceremony of the Borderline Security Taskforce Commander, Commander of Army Reserve Strategic Command (Pangkostrad). Let. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu stated that Kostrad has to perform its mission to prevent the country from disintegration. With sufficient ability obtained from the special training they have been through, Kostrad troops should be able to prevent particular groups to attempt disintegration of the country, Let. Gen, Ryacudu added.

PK: Speaking to the press in Atambua on Friday (05/4) Commander of Army Reserve Strategic Command (Pangkostrad) . Let. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu underscored that the Kostrad troops would be pulled out from East-West Timor borderline area if the security situation in the area is considered favourable. The commander also reminded all his subordinates not to be influenced by the incident which occurred last week on two members of the Kostrad troops. Pangkostrad visited Atambua to attend the hand over ceremony of the Borderline Taskforce Commander.

ST: Speaking after the hand over ceremony of Borderline Taskforce in Atambua on Friday (15/4), Pangkostrad, Let.Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu admitted that he was really taken aback to hear the triple A scenario rumour (scenario to create the same violence in Atambua as what has happened in Aceh and Ambon) spread around in West Timor. The commander called on the people not to be easily provoked by the rumours.

ST: The Secretary of Refugees' Affairs Taskforce, Let. Col (Air force) Suwandi stated that the taskforce would end its duty after the registration of refugees in June this year. The Taskforce's service could be extended only if Satkorlak is considered not ready to take over from the Taskforce. Suwandi also enumerated the reasons of registration postponement such as the registration fund amounting to Rp.1 billion, yet to be disbursed and the lack of technical preparation of the registration process. On 21st of May, there will be an information dissemination session throughout the camps to inform requirements for the refugees to meet in order to participate in the registration.

RT: Asked by journalists regarding the increasing frequency of illegal crossing at the border, Wirasakti Military Commander Col. Budi Heriyanto stated that the only way to cope with illegal crossing is for both forces, TNI and UNPKF, to unite and increase coordination in preventing the illegal crossing. Lack of personnel to secure the borderline that stretches out by 145 km is one of the obstacles faced by TNI, said Col. Heryanto. At present, the exercises done by the TNI to prevent the illegal crossing are conducting regular patrols and keeping a watch on suspicious sites of illegal crossing.

7th May

SP: The spokesperson of UNTAET, Barbara Reis, told the press on Friday (4/5) that the institution had proposed funds for security amounting to $2.3 million for the process of the forthcoming election in East Timor. The funds would be allocated to purchase a number of firearms. Separately, Sergio de Melo, Head of UNTAET in East Timor, asserted that the election would still be conducted on the planned date, 30th August 2001, despite escalating tension in Dili with regards to several recent criminal cases.

NTT X: Wirasakti Military Commander, Col. Budi Heriyanto was quoted as saying that the refugees who report to the taskforce of their return will arrive safely. This is different to those who take illegal entries that are likely to face trouble when they arrive. This is because in the official repatriation the Borderline Security Taskforce would continually coordinate with related parties in East Timor making sure the returnees arrive safely to their homes. Commander, Heriyanto gave example of the former military member returnees who are now living peacefully in their villages.

RT: The argument regarding the inclusion of options in the registration for refugees has ended. Secretary General of UNTAS, Ir. Filomeno de Jesus Hornay said that all the refugees housing in West Timor had agreed to include the options in the registration process for June of this year. Speaking after the meeting of the East Timorese people with the Central Registration Working Group last weekend, Hornay informed that the agreement was reached after the Central Working Group explained to the participants the reasons to include the options in the registration. The meeting also agreed to use the term 'Alternative' (pilihan) instead of 'options'. Hornay admitted that although both words, semantically, are not different, the word 'option' for the refugees is associated with the past trauma.

PK: The distribution of refugees' side-dish money for those sheltering in North Central Timor Regency is underway. Speaking at his office on Friday (4/5), Head of Social Division of District Secretary Office, Benediktus Banu affirmed this by saying that approximately Rp. 1.8 million is being distributed for refugees throughout villages in the regency. Each refugee is to receive Rp. 75.000. Meanwhile, a number of refugees have reportedly complained that their side-dish money was cut by Rp.5000 by village staff. Banu regretted such act and promised to reprimand staff and take action.

ST: UN Civilian Police have managed to apprehend a number of persons allegedly involved in the attack of Xanana Gusmao's wife, Mrs. Kristy Sword Gusmao on April 24th. An Australian activist, known only as Helen, was also reportedly attacked by a number of people three days before the attack to Mrs. Gusmao. These people are under investigation by the police for their alleged involvement in a number of violence acts recently, said spokesperson of UN Civilian Police, Luis Carilho.

RT: The reconciliation meeting in Denpasar reached a deadlock after members of both East Timor National Parliament (CNRT) and Former Pro- integration Fighters could not compromise on principle issues regarding the reconciliation process. As quoted by Antara on Sunday night (6/5), Chief of CNRT Reconciliation Committee, Fransisco da Costa Guterres said that during the two-day meeting both parties failed to produce converging points of the substantial problems faced by the East Timorese for reconciliation. Gutteres admitted that after the ballot in 1999 communication among the East Timorese was ruined and this resulted in the unresolved problems towards the reconciliation. The meeting facilitated by the Catholic Central Information and Appraisal, Flores and Upsalla University, Sweden, only agreed on the importance to establish communication and trust between the two parties.

9th May

SP: The pro-integrationist organisation for the East Timorese ,UNTAS, rejects the idea to try Eurico Gutteres, former pro-integration fighter leader in East Timor. Deputy of Law and Human Rights in UNTAS, Hukman Reni, told Sasando Pos, on Tuesday (8/5) that the rejection was based on the status of East Timor now as the transitional government that is yet to gain its independence. Moreover, a trial to a foreign citizen could only be done if there is an extradition agreement between the two countries, he added.

PK/RT: Security forces of the UNPKF and the TNI military were involved in a dispute over a borderline issue on Saturday (5/5). The incident occurred at Dilumil Kampong (village) in Lamaknen subdistrict, Belu Regency adjacent to Bobonaro District, East Timor. Contacted on Tuesday (8/5) Yonif 131 Military Commander, Let. Col. Agung Rijdihanto admitted that there was a bit of tension between members of two forces last weekend but did not result in a gunfight. A commander-level meeting was then held the following day (6/5) to resolve the problem. The incident began when a number of Australian UNPKF soldiers, just assigned to East Timor for a few days, were considered by TNI to have crossed the border. They crossed a creek at Dilumil Kampong to interrogate some villagers. As reported by the villagers, TNI soldiers rushed to the site at once and the dispute began. The commanders decided to discuss further the issue in the routine meeting between the two forces.

RT: The Indonesian government has already decided to conduct the refugees registration on 6th of June of this year and this would not be changed. Vice Governor of East Nusa Tenggara, Johanis Pake Pani stated this yesterday. He explained further that the plans for registration had been delayed three times due to financial problems. He asserted that the registration would still take place as planned. The working group for registration has begun surveying locations of the registration throughout the regencies and has also began recruiting prospective registration staff.

NTT X: A brawl among the refugees occurred at the office of Kupang Municipality on Tuesday (8/5) after a meeting discussing aid distribution mechanism. The fighting occurred due to a disagreement between two groups of refugees over the mechanism decided in the meeting. A bad turn of events was prevented since the police were quick to separate the conflicting groups. The meeting, also attended by village heads in Kupang, decided to implement a 'one gate' (Satu Pintu) system for aid distribution.

10th May

ST: Refugees residing in Belu regency were disappointed with the fact that the Police of Belu (Polres) have yet to submit the revised dossier of refugees' aid fund scandal involving three members of Belu legislative assembly to the state attorney office. Police were given until 15th of May to complete the dossier.

ST: Former commander of pro-integration fighters' Security Force, Joao Tavares, warned other former members and commanders not to hamper the registration process to be conducted throughout the regencies. Those who breach this will receive stern measures. Tavares responded to the rumours by saying that pro-integration members are planning to disturb the registration process using provoking statements to corner former members and commanders of pro-integration groups. He added that the registration is important to be conducted to find out the exact number of refugees residing in West Timor, and to know the refugees' stance of whether to return home or become Indonesian citizens. Tavaras guaranteed that the registration process would run smoothly without any disturbance.

RT: A communication forum among entrepreneurs of East Nusa Tenggara, East Timor and Australia are planning to lobby Ansett, an Australian private airline company, to operate Kupang-Darwin flights. This idea came after Indonesian Airlines; Merpati Nusantara, halted their operation of Kupang-Darwin flights due to financial losses it suffered. As it was reported previously, starting from 5th of May 2001, Merpati Nusantara Airlines terminated their Kupang-Darwin flight after the analysis conducted by its marketing division stated that the airlines had suffered great losses due to the decreased number of passengers in its flights. Other alternatives would be to lobby other Indonesian airlines such as Garuda Indonesia, Mandala Air Service, or Pelita Air Service. However, the forum appealed to Merpati Airlines to reappraise the decision and recommence the flight route.

RT: According to data held by UNTAS, the number of refugees residing in West Timor is 112,243 persons. However, UNTAS still considers the plan to conduct the refugees' registration in June as necessary. Deputy of People's Welfare, UNTAS, Mrs. Noberta Bello stated this on a radio talk show yesterday in Kupang. However, data released by UNHCR showed that at least 175,000 refugees had returned home either on UNHCR and IOM facilitation, or on their own initiatives. This means there will be only 75,000 refugees out of the 200,000 refugees who fled to West Timor post-ballot in 1999, that still remain in West Timor.

SP: As of 4th of May, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has officially repatriated the refugees from West Timor to East Timor as many as 133,365 persons through land or sea route, said Head of IOM Kupang, Suparanto to Sasando Pos on Wednesday (9/5). Concerning the plan to replace Passenger Ship, Patricia Ane Hotung to repatriate the refugees, Suparanto said that the ship has yet to return to Hong Kong, therefore the plan will be put off until the ship sets sail for Hong Kong.


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