Subject: AN: Horta denies exodus from Timor Leste to RI

Also: AN - East Timorese Indonesians cross border for Good Friday

Apr 18 21:19

Horta denies exodus from Timor Leste to RI

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Visiting Timor Leste Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta on Tuesday denied recent reports that many people fled Timor Leste to the eastern Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara following his government`s decision to fire 600 of its armed force members last month.

"The issue of exodus was merely blown up by the Indonesian media. No Timor Leste people fled to the western half of Timor Island. On the contrary, hundreds of Indonesian people visited Timor Leste last week to observe Easter," he said after a meeting his Indonesian counterpart, Hasan Wirajuda, at the letter`s office.

The issue of exodus surfaced last month as the security situation in Timor Leste became tense after Timor Leste Armed Force (FDTL) chief Brig. Gen. Taur Matan Ruak fired 600 of his men.

Col. Noch Bola, chief of the 161 Wirasakti district military command which oversees East Nusa Tenggara said on March 29 that around 30 Indonesians fled Dili to the Indonesian province on March 28 to save themselves as tension was rising in the Timor Leste capital.

Horta denied that there had been rioting in Timor Leste. "There was no rioting. Some of the 600 FDTL members were tired of serving as soldiers and wanted to quit from FDTL. They wanted to return to their hometowns," he said.

Separately, on Tuesday, spokesman of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry Yuri Thamrin said Horta`s visit to Jakarta was part of regular consultations between the two foreign ministers.

In the meeting the two ministers agreed to resolve border issues as soon as possible, Yuri said.

"They also agreed to follow up the meeting held by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Xanana Gusmao at the Tampak Siring Palace (Bali) last February," he said.(*)


April 15, 2006

East Timorese Indonesians cross border for Good Friday

JAKARTA (Antara): Hundreds of East Timorese Indonesians living in several areas in East Nusa Tenggara province began crossing the border a few days ago to celebrate Good Friday in Timor Leste.

Many people from the former province of East Timor, who have opted to live in East Nusa Tenggara, left for several districts in the former Indonesian province, passing through both official check points and illegal routes.

"Those people left for Timor Leste through both official check points or passed small paths (to avoid immigration checkpoints)," Afonso Perrera, a Timorese Indonesian living in the East Nusa Tenggara town of Atambua, was quoted by Antara as saying.

According to Afonso, many Timorese Indonesians did not have passports. They have to pass unofficial routes because since 2003, the East Timor government requires them to apply for a visa if they want to visit their relatives in the tiny country.

"From 1999 to 2003, most Timorese Indonesians crossed the border through official check points because at that time the Timor Leste government did not require us to apply for a visa," Afonso added.

Filomena de Jesus said she and her five children left for Timor Leste through an unofficial route because she did not have enough money to apply for a visa.

"We will go to our hometown in Aileu district to celebrate Good Friday and pray for our relatives who have passed away," Filomena said, adding that her husband did not go with them because he feared he would be accused of being a former pro-Indonesia militia.

Filomena said she went to Timor Leste twice a year to celebrate Good Friday and Christmas.

Agusta de Deus, another border crosser, who left for East Timor with five of his relatives said he would return to East Nusa Tenggara after celebrating Good Friday because he already had a house in East Nusa Tenggara."The government has built a house for us. There are also schools for our children," added Agusta, who also passed through an illegal route.

Hundreds of East Timorese families decided to live in Indonesia after a referendum in 1999, which ended Indonesian presence in the former Portuguese colony since 1963 (sic). (**)

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