Subject: AN: Refugees want to meet President


July 20, 2003 10:08pm Antara

Kupang, July 18 (ANTARA) - Representatives of ex-East Timorese refugees throughout Indonesia will soon converge in Jakarta to meet President Megawati Soekarnoputri to talk about the properties they abandoned in East Timor.

Head of the East Nusa Tenggara chapter of the National Committee of East Timor Political Victims, Hukman Reni, said here Friday all representatives from different provinces in Indonesia had arrived in Jakarta, except those from East Nusa Tenggara.

"Representatives from different provinces have arrived at the Education and Training Centre of the Social Affairs Ministry. After we are all gathered here, we want to meet the president," Hukman said.

Hukman said that his side has received forms on asset inventories from Indonesia's Foreign Affairs Ministry to be distributed to all former East Timorese refugees.

However, he added, the forms had yet to be distributed to ex-East Timorese refugees as they are holding a meeting to elect the new executives of the Council of East Timorese Community in Indonesia (Makasti).

The Makasti meeting was opened by former deputy chief of the Integration Fighters Force (PPI) Eurico Guterres on Tuesday (July 16), 2003.

According to Hukman, before the Indonesian and East Timorese governments reached an agreement on asset compensation, there were some issues to be discussed with President Megawati.

The most important thing was that the Indonesian government had shown its good will in response to complaints from hundreds of thousands of Indonesian citizens of East Timorese descent (ex-East Timorese refugees) who now live in misery as they had abandoned their properties in East Timor.

Hukman said the ex-East Timorese refugees were ready to leave their homeland only for their beloved country, Indonesia.

"The Indonesian government should consider the ex-East Timorese refugees' extraordinary sacrifices as a kind of unlimited nationalism and thus treat them accordingly," Hukman said.

Hukman disclosed that thousands of ex-East Timorese refugees still live in inadeqaute camps.

The territory integrated into Indonesia in 1976 but the United Nations never recognized the integration process.

East Timor officially seceded from Indonesia in October 1999 as a consequence of the pro-independence camp's victory in the United Nations-organized popular consultation held on August, 30, 1999.

East Timor (Democratic Republic of Timor Leste) declared its independence on May 20, 2002.


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