Subject: AFP: Six Timorese asylum seekers leave Austrian embassy
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:42:32 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Agence France Presse April 12, 1999 08:18 GMT

Six East Timorese asylum seekers leave Austrian embassy JAKARTA, April 12

Six Timorese who sought asylum in the chancery of the Austrian embassy here 19 months ago, left the embassy last week, an informed source told AFP here Monday.

The six, four adults and two children, left the chancery building secretly and by their own choice last Thursday, the source said.

Austrian ambassador to Jakarta, Viktor Segalla, told AFP he had been "instructed not to speak to the press" on the matter.

The group entered the chancery on September 19, 1997, at a time when former president Suharto was in power, and there was no indication that Jakarta would let go of East Timor, whose invasion he ordered in 1975.

Some 20 embassies over a period of two years became the first stop for some 200 East Timorese who left for Lisbon under the auspices of the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Those who left usually did so within a few days and with the blessing of the Indonesian authorties.

But in the case of the six at the Austrian embassy, Jakarta said one of them belonged to a small leftist party and was implicated in making bombs. The embassy provided a small apartment for the six, and the two small girls were authorized to play in the garden at certain times.

They had a radio but no television, and no contact with the outside world, even by telephone.

During the May 1998 riots which helped force Suharto to step down, the Austrian embassy, which was in an exposed position, was evacuated by its diplomats.

They left the keys with the six East Timorese, who did not at the time risk taking advantage of the chaos to slip out.

be-kw/tc

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