Subject: Indon govt urged to lobby UN to lift sanction call in East Nusa Tenggara

The Jakarta Post May 28, 2002

Govt urged to lobby UN to lift sanction call in NTT

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang

East Nusa Tenggara authorities called on the central government to continue lobbying the UN to lift the UN Security Council's Resolution for sanctions in connection with the killing of UNHCR's international civilian staff in the province's town of Atambua in 2000, saying it has affected the province's economic growth and sown a hatred among local people against the newly independent East Timor.

The resolution issued on Sept. 8, 2000 following the attack by militiamen and East Timorese refugees at the UNHCR office in Atambua on Sept. 6, 2000, spells out that Indonesia must conduct a thorough investigation into the murders, all pro-Jakarta militias should be dissolved, refugees should be freely allowed to choose to return home or to stay in Indonesia and protection needs to be provided for the remaining local UN staff. Following the resolution, the UN secretariat general also issued a statement that the region was not safe for foreigners, especially UN workers.

Following the incident, all UN agencies and most private non-governmental organizations stopped their humanitarian assistance to the refugees and their repatriation assistance in the province, and the number of foreign tourists visiting the province decreased significantly.

Col. Maswarno Moesanip, chief of the Wirasakti Military District supervising western Timor, claimed the UN should drop its resolution as all eight points had been met by the Indonesian government. He also added that it was affecting the province's economy.

"Our foreign minister should continue lobbying the UN Security Council to lift the resolution because we have met all things recommended. It has brought negative impacts to the province's economy over the last three years," he said.

He added that the resolution's economic impact had created hatred among local people because of the assault at the UNHCR office that left three UN workers dead was participated in by a great many East Timorese refugees, most of whom had returned to their homeland following East Timor's May 20 independence.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said the central government had several times lobbied the UN secretariat general and the UN Security Council but they declined to drop it due to unsatisfactory conditions in western Timor and the light sentences handed down for those found guilty of killing the UNHCR workers.

The Jakarta District Court sentenced the six people held responsible for the killing to between 10 months and 20 months in jail on May 4, 2001.

Moesanip warned the UN that a failure to drop the resolution would certainly strain the ties between East Timor and Indonesia.

So far, the provincial administration has closed down the transit point in Atambua for refugees returning to Oecusse, East Timor's enclave surrounded by western Timor.

Johannis Kosapilawan, spokesman for the provincial administration, concurred and said the UN resolution and the UN secretariat general's statement had affected the province's economic development program.

"Following the issuance of the UN resolution, the number of foreign visitors dropped drastically, at least 50 foreign investors had pulled out of investments since 2001 and the state-owned Merpati airlines stopped its international flights from the provincial capital, Kupang to Australia," he said.

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