|Subject: AFP: Thousands flee E Timor, teachers
protest lack of protection
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 18:29:25 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo:
*Thousands flee East Timor, teachers protest lack of protection
JAKARTA, March 9 (AFP) - Some 2,000 Indonesian and pro-Indonesian residents of East Timor have fled to neighbouring East Nusa Tenggara province and thousands of teachers sent there by Jakarta have demanded transfers, the state Antara news agency said Tuesday.
"Maybe because of the situation in East Timor ... East Timorese are staying with their families in East Nusa Tenggara. The number could be 2,000 people," East Nusa Tenggara Governor Piet Tallo was quoted by Antara as saying.
Tensions have risen between pro-independence and pro-integration groups in the former Portuguese colony since Jakarta said two months ago that if East Timorese did not accept broad autonomy, it could opt for independence.
"We were always terrorized and could not live peacefully. That is why (my husband) continued to hold on to his post in Dili, while the children and myself left Dili last week," an unidentified woman was quoted as saying.
On Monday thousands of teachers from the East Timor Teachers' Forum demanded in talks with Indra Jati Sidi, a visiting official from the Ministry of Education, to be transfered to other provinces following threats by pro- independence groups.
"Their demands will be solved immediately, that is why we have come here to have direct dialogue with the teachers. The central government is paying special attention to East Timor," Sidi was quoted by Antara.
Indonesian Education Minister Juwono Sudarsono said Sunday the government was prepared to evacuate some 2,400 Indonesian teachers from East Timor and had allocated 50 billion rupiah (550,000 dollars) to finance the evacuation.
Some of the teachers who had settled in East Timor spoke out and said they had been physically abused, harassed, threatened and extorted by pro-independence residents and students for years.
"Some 400,000 rupiah (around 45 dollars) in cash has been extorted (from me) by seven people, four of whom were my own students," said ethnic-Javanese Saridjo (eds: one name), a teacher in East Timor's Viqueque region said.
Most state teachers receive a meagre salary of 300,000 to 450,000 rupiah per month.
Indonesia unilaterally annexed East Timor in 1976 following a violent military invasion the previous year. The United Nations and most other countries did not recognize the annexation and still view Lisbon as the territory's official administrator.
The United Nations has since 1983 brokered tripartite talks between Jakarta and Lisbon to settle East Timor's status.
The talks took on new life with the autonomy and independence proposals, and talks between the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Portugal are currently underway in New York.
East Timorese are trying to follow the New York talks by radio, a Catholic priest in Bobonaro sub-district in East Timor said.
"For 15 years I have worked in different East Timorese villages and seen how people depended on the radio as the main medium to gather information, particularly on the development of East Timor's political solution in the UN forum," Antara quoted Father Yohannes Suban Gapun as saying.