Subject: Atambua Bishop Rejects Military Battalion

The Jakarta Post

April 23, 2010 Friday

Atambua Bishop Rejects Military Battalion

ATAMBUA, East Nusa Tenggara: Atambua Bishop Mgr. Dominikus Saku, Pr has rejected a plan to establish two military battalions in 2011 in North Timor Tengah and Belu regencies.

His objection was based on the fact that Timor Leste is a small country with a population of only 1 million which poses no serious threat to Indonesia.

"The people are traumatized by the Indonesian Military," Dominikus said Thursday, referring to human rights violations in the former province.

On behalf of local catholic churches he had sent a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the military commander, and the House of Representatives to mull the cancellation of the plan.

What local people need, he said, is development in education, health, agriculture and other sectors to improve their lives.

"Military officials have been insisting that the presence of two battalions will help promote economic growth in the area. In my view, nowhere in Indonesia would thrive in the presence of a large number of military members," he said.

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