Subject: AU: Farewell to arms of uncivil service
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:41:09 -0400

The Australian 13 Aug 99

Farewell to arms of uncivil service

>From SIAN POWELL in Dili

THE Awu steamed out of Dili yesterday, taking another 500 people from East Timor's troubled shores.

Countless thousands of Indonesians – the wives and children of civil servants and entire families of trans-migrants – have quietly left the province in the months since President B.J. Habibie declared in January that the East Timorese people would be allowed to choose independence, or autonomy within Indonesia.

The families of the pro-autonomy militias have also been streaming over the border to the relative safety of West Timor, and many in the East Timorese Chinese community have moved to the calm of Kupang, Surabaya and Denpasar.

Most will wait until well after the August 30 ballot on independence to decide whether or not to return.

The East Timor exodus has ripped apart the social fabric of the stricken territory. Filomeno Bianco, an elementary school teacher in Dili, estimated that 4000 teachers had fled the province, of a total of 7000. Most were Indonesian, and most were high school teachers.

The Merpati airline agent in central Dili agreed that thousands of Indonesians had gone, and she wasn't sure whether they would return. An official said between 70 and 80 Indonesians flew out every day, with no return flight booked.

In Delta Comoro, a housing subdivision near Dili, which was favoured by Indonesian civil servants, more than 20 houses have been let to foreigners or sold to East Timorese, said an official in the subdivision's office.

Many common people from Indonesia were not leaving.

"We will stay here, we sell our cigarettes here, we live here," said one.

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