Subject: JP: 48 East Timorese seek protection in NTT

Also: AN- DOZENS OF E TIMORESE REFUGEES STILL IN INDONESIA'S BELU DISTRICT

DOZENS OF E TIMORESE REFUGEES STILL IN INDONESIA'S BELU DISTRICT

October 18, 2003

48 East Timorese seek protection in NTT

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

As many as 48 East Timorese citizens sneaked into East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province seeking protection from the Indonesia government, claiming they were victims of intimidation, police said on Friday.

Twenty-six of them were accommodated at Belu Police Station, while the remaining 22 are staying at camps along with other East Timorese refugees.

Belu Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Nugroho said the 48 East Timorese were from Balibo subdistrict, Bobonaro district, East Timor, and claimed to have been "terrorized and intimidated" by their East Timorese neighbors.

They managed to sneak into East Nusa Tenggara, despite tight border security, he added.

Agus said the 48 were among some 250,000 East Timorese who had fled the carnage at the hands of militia in their homeland in 1999 after it voted to break away from Indonesia in an independence vote.

"They had returned home to Timor Leste (East Timor) under the repatriation program in 2001 after taking refuge in Atambua, Belu regency," he said, adding that some of the 48 refugees were women and children.

Agus said the escape of these East Timorese citizens would affect the smooth repatriation of thousands of refugees still languishing at the camps across East Nusa Tenggara.

The Indonesian government is waiting for a response from the East Timor administration in order to deport its 48 citizens, he said.

"We will not go home because we don't want to be bullied by the East Timorese people who do not want us to live there," said Emersia da Cruz, one of the 48 refugees.

Kupang's Wirasakti military commander Col. Moeswarno Moesanip confirmed the presence of the 48 East Timorese citizens who were seeking protection in Atambua.

East Timor's economic recession has also forced them to return to Indonesia to escape destitution in the neighboring country, he said.

Moesanip said that an exodus of more East Timorese people would hit East Nusa Tenggara and other Indonesian provinces, if the Xanana Gusmao government failed to resolve economic difficulties confronting its citizens.

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DOZENS OF E TIMORESE REFUGEES STILL IN INDONESIA'S BELU DISTRICT

October 17, 2003 11:33pm Antara

Atambua, E Nusa Tenggara, Oct 17 (ANTARA) - Immigration officials in Belu district in Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province are ready to help the local police handle 26 refugees from Bobonaro district in neighboring East Timor, their chief, Friment FS Arwan, has said.

"We are ready to help settle this refugee problem based on our authority in handling border-crossers," he said in an interview here Friday.

The refugees entered Belu through "short-cut routes" last Wednesday.

Friment said the refugees could be accused of violating Article 48 of Indonesia's immigration law because they entered Indonesian territory without going through normal immigration checks in Mota'ain.

Meanwhile, Belu Police chief, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Agus Nugroho, said the police will enforce the law, without being inhumane.

"We have attempted to persuade them to return to East Timor but they refused to be repatriated to their home country. To be humane, we can not do acts of violence against those who refuse to return home," he said.

The refugees said they were intimidated and terrorized by other residents of Bobonaro, Agus noted.

They were also faced food shortage and lacked primary health care from the East Timorese government, he quoted them as saying.

"We have coordinated with related government agencies here, such as the social welfare office, immigration office, the Indonesian-East Timorese security task force, and the Belu district military command, to settle this problem," he said.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)


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