Subject: Graves of Indonesian fighters in E. Timor need relocation

Also: Response from Foreign Ministry and Government of East Timor

The Jakarta Post October 25, 2001

Graves of RI fighters in E. Timor need relocation

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Dili

One of the many problems faced by both the East Timor and the Indonesia administrations is the 13 heroes cemeteries where 5,000 Indonesian fighters are buried in separate areas in East Timor.

The graves of Indonesians who were killed in battles, before and after East Timor was integrated into Indonesia in 1974, have been neglected since the former 27th Indonesian province seceded from Indonesia in 1999.

Yet the East Timorese people have demanded that the Indonesian authorities exhume all the graves and remove the remains to Indonesian territory.

The head of Indonesian affairs in East Timor, Kristio Wahyono, confirmed the demand last week, saying that pressure had been applied by anti-Indonesian East Timorese to remove the remains.

"But an official request has never been submitted to the government of Indonesia, therefore the government has yet to give a serious response," said Kristio. "But we have conveyed the pressure to Jakarta."

The most neglected cemeteries are those located in Dili, Suai, Ainaro and Liquisa. The brick walls surrounding the cemeteries have collapsed, and most of the headstones have gone.

Kristio said the headstones had been removed by anti-Indonesian hard-liners.

"This may have happened at all Indonesian heroes cemeteries in East Timor," said Kristio.

"We could do nothing. A lot of money is needed to repair the walls of the cemeteries. We do not have a list of those buried here," said Kristio.

Udayana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Wellem T. da Costa once revealed a plan to relocate the graves, but he did not say when or how the remains would be moved to Indonesian soil.

East Timorese interviewed by The Jakarta Post in Dili suggested that the Indonesian government remove all the graves soon. "Because the Indonesian heroes are traitors to East Timorese," Fernando Ximenes, who lives behind Seroja Heroes Cemetery in Dili, said.

"For us East Timorese the pro-Jakarta people are all traitors," he reiterated.


Department of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Second Transitional Government East Timor

EAST TIMOR RESPECTS THE GRAVES OF INDONESIAN SOLDIERS

26 October 2001 For Immediate Release

A Jakarta Post story published October 25 2001 titled Graves of RI Fighter in East Timor need relocation by Yemris Fointuna completely misrepresents the majority view of both the East Timorese people and the East Timorese Transitional Government.

The Jakarta Post story stated, "The East Timorese demanded that the Indonesian authorities exhume all the graves and remove the remains to Indonesian territory."

The Foreign Ministry, and the Government of East Timor categorically deny that there has been such a demand. The Indonesian Authorities directly or indirectly have not raised this issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is the view of the East Timorese political leaders that the graves of Indonesian soldiers, and other Indonesian citizens buried in East Timor are sites that must be respected like any other burial site, regardless of the historical and political roots.

In spite of its enormous difficulties it faces in rebuilding the country and restoring normalcy to the lives of it's own people, the Government of East Timor will do its upmost in cooperating with the Indonesian Government to repair the neglected cemeteries.

A personal survey of the grave sites, undertaken by Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Dr Jose Ramos-Horta indicates that the disappearance of headstones and collapse of walls is not politically motivated, but rather follows a pattern of neglect and theft seen across many gravesites in East Timor.

The Government would look favourably at any arrangement where by families of the deceased would visit the burial sites at some time in the future.


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