Subject: JP: Students, refugees protest corruption report in Kupang

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The Jakarta Post

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Students, refugees protest corruption report in Kupang

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara

Hundreds of students and East Timorese refugees continued their demonstrations on Tuesday at the East Nusa Tenggara legislative council following the reported misuse of funds intended for the refugees.

The report, released recently by the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP), revealed indications of corruption involving billions of rupiah from assistance funds for East Timorese refugees in the province.

The protesters demanded that the provincial administration and the National Coordinating Agency for the Handling of Natural Disasters and Refugees come clean about the use of the funds, including around Rp 53 billion (US$6.2 million) provided by Japan for the resettlement of the East Timorese refugees and the provision of healthcare facilities.

A total of Rp 120 billion in emergency funds and Rp 47 billion for the evacuation of refugees had also been misused, they said.

Protest coordinator Sipriano Soares Babo said an independent team should be established to investigate the alleged graft.

The protesters also rejected the government's move to relocate the East Timorese refugees from camps in West Timor to new resettlement areas, which they said were uninhabitable.

"Our brothers who were resettled there are now returning to their original camps because the houses given to them were not fit for human beings," said Antonio de Araujo, a refugee from Noelbaki who joined the protest.

"Aside from that, there is no clean water or economic resources," he added.

The demonstrating refugees also opposed efforts to repatriate them to East Timor and reconcile them with pro-independence East Timorese, saying they had decided to remain Indonesian citizens.

They threatened to occupy the council building and stay there until the government responded to their demands.

Early last week, dozens of students staged a rally at the same building to protest against the alleged corruption. They remained camped out in its grounds for two days.

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