Subject: Indonesian cemetery in E. Timor safe

Also - KY: Indonesian cemetery in E. Timor converted to cassava farm


Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation 
Second Transitional Government East Timor

Monday 4 February 2002

For Immediate Release


Senior Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, and, Head of the Indonesian Mission in East Timor Mr. Kristio Wahyono today emphatically denied reports that the Cemetery for Indonesian Service men in East Timor had been bulldozed.

"The reports are simply not true. We take matters like this very seriously. In my absence, immediately our Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mr Jorge Teme attended the site, where he, and the Head of the Indonesian Mission in East Timor Mr Kristio Wahyono, confirmed that the reports were false," Dr Ramos-Horta said from Barcelona today.

"It is the view of the East Timorese leaders that the graves of Indonesian Soldiers, and all 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," Dr Ramos-Horta said.

The Head of the Indonesian Mission in East Timor Mr Kristio Wahyono agrees: "The story run today was incorrect, I know this because everyday I pass by the cemetery and I have seen for myself that the cemetery was not bulldozed. Contrary to these reports the East Timorese and Indonesian Governments are working together to protect the cemetery," he said.

Dr Ramos-Horta, who personally went to survey the site in October last year, said that in spite of the enormous difficulties East Timor faces, in rebuilding the country and restoring normalcy to the lives of their own people, the Government of East Timor would do its upmost in cooperation with the Indonesian Government to repair the neglected cemeteries.

"In fact the Government would look favourably at any arrangement whereby the families of the deceased would be able visit the burial sites in the near future," he added.

- ends -


Received from Joyo Indonesian News

KY: Indonesian cemetery in E. Timor converted to cassava farm

JAKARTA, March 1 (Kyodo) - A cemetery for Indonesian servicemen in East Timor's capital Dili has been converted to a cassava farm, Indonesia's state-run news agency Antara said Friday.

Maj. Gen. William Da Costa, a military commander overseeing West Timor, said the Seroja Cemetery in Dili's Santa Cruz district was supposed to be protected by local authorities as agreed between the Indonesian government and the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

But Da Costa said the cemetery was razed by bulldozer, leaving it difficult to identify any individual remains, to make way for a cassava plantation.

''We expect that Xanana (Gusmao) could help have the remains of Indonesians, who died in wars in East Timor, recovered so they can be buried with members of their respective military units,'' Da Costa was quoted as saying.

Gusmao is the leading contender for president of East Timor, which is to gain independence May 20. The territory's first presidential election will be held April 14.

About 5,000 Indonesian soldiers were been buried in 15 cemeteries of ''heroes'' throughout East Timor, more than 700 of them believed buried at Seroja.

After 350 years of Portuguese rule, East Timor briefly gained independence in 1974, but in 1975, Indonesia invaded the half-island territory and annexed it a year later, an action the United Nations never recognized.

East Timor voted to split from Indonesia in a U.N.-supervised referendum held in August 1999.

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