Subject: AN: Indonesia to re-register Timor refugees

Antara - The Indonesian National News Agency

January 7, 2002


Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara, Jan 7 (ANTARA) - The government is likely to re-register East Timorese refugees living in the country's eastern province of East Nusa Tenggara to know their number and how many of them wish to become Indonesian citizens, a minister said.

The re-registration was necessary as their number had changed since the first registration held on June 6 last year, Home Affairs Minister Hari Sabarno said here Monday.

Whatever their choice in the re-registration -- to repatriate or remain in Indonesia -- , the government would directly take concrete steps to avoid new problems in the field, he said.

"By holding the re-registration, those wishing to return to their homeland will be directly repatriated and those wishing to join the transmigration program will be directly resettled in the transmigration sites, otherwise they will easily change their mind," he said.

The government would always treat the East Timorese as Indonesian citizens if during the re-registration they opted to remain part of the Indonesian nation, he said.

He said the East Timorese were part of the Indonesian nation before the UN-administered ballot which led to East Timor's independence from Indonesia.

"We will not cause difficulties for them to get their Indonesian citizenship and to live in one of the provinces in Indonesia. But all these must go through a clear procedure," he said.

The government hoped that in the re-registration the East Timorese could determine their own choice without being influenced by misleading rumours.

He said the government realized that the East Timorese had not firmly determined their political choice because East Timor was in the process of electing a president.

"Maybe if the next East Timorese president meets their hope, all the East Timorese living Indonesia will decide to repatriate. We do not force them to do that but give them a chance to determine their own choice," he said.

The minister arrived here on Sunday. During his stay, he visited refugee camps in the Noelbaki area, some 15 km east of here.

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