Subject: IO: East Timorese refugees may not get a vote
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 08:49:46 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Indonesian Observer 22nd June 1999

East Timorese refugees may not get a vote

JAKARTA (IO) — No decision has been made on whether to set up a polling station in Atambua district, East Nusa Tenggara province, to enable East Timorese refugees there to vote during the August 8 ballot on freedom or integration.

"UNAMET [United Nations Assessment Mission in East Timor] has not made any decision on whether it is necessary to set up a balloting post in Atambua for refugees from East Timor," UNAMET spokesman David Wimhurst was quoted as saying by Antara yesterday.

Wimhurst said UNAMET feels the East Timorese refugees should return to their hometowns. He noted that UNAMET head Ian Martin has not visited the refugees in Atambua, but has visited those in Liquica district and Atabase subdistrict, Bobonaro district.

East Timorese refugees will not be allowed to register in Atambua, which was not mentioned as a voting station under the agreement signed by Indonesia, Portugal and the UN last May.

The Commission on Anti-Violence Against Women said most of the refugees in Atambua are women and children, who are living under crowded shelters and subsisting on inadequate food, medicine and sanitary facilities.

"The refugees can return to their hometowns if their security can be assured. All of them are the responsibility of the Indonesian police, who under the tripartite agreement, hold responsibility for security during the direct ballot," director of the Foundation for Law, Human Rights and Justice in East Timor, Aniceto Gutteres Lopes, said.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move never recognized by the UN. With the exception of Australia, most Western nation’s don’t recognize the Indonesian occupation. Hundreds of thousands of East Timorese have been killed since the invasion. Many were victims of famine or military attacks.

The Indonesian military has repeatedly denied arming pro-integration militias.

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