Subject: JP: Refugees may be denied the vote

November 10, 2003

Jakarta Post

Refugees may be denied the vote

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara About 28,000 East Timorese refugees living in camps in East Nusa Tenggara may not be allowed to participate in the 2004 elections because of questions over their citizenship.

"Many refugees have asked us whether they will be allowed to vote in the upcoming elections. But we cannot answer that question because the government and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) have yet to clarify their citizenship status," the secretary of the province's General Elections Commission, Hans Louk, said on Saturday.

East Nusa Tenggara administration official Djidon de Haan said that based on international law, the East Timorese refugees would not be allowed to vote in the 2004 elections.

"They are protected under international law. That is why we will not include them among Indonesian voters in 2004," he said.

The refugees, many of them members of pro-Jakarta militias blamed for the 1999 carnage in East Timor, refused to return home and instead opted to remain in Indonesia. --JP


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