Subject: WT newspaper summaries 20-27 March

West Timor Press Summary

20th March - 27th March

NTT X - NTT Ekspres; PK - Pos Kupang; ST - Surya Timor; RT - Radar Timor; SP - Sasando Pos

20th March

SP: UNTAS figures have called on Bishop Belo to retract the 13-point statement he recently issued regarding the conditions for return of pro-integration refugees. They want reconciliation with no preconditions. The Bishop's statement was reported in yesterday's SP as follows: 

Those who wish to return to Timor Lorosae should be willing to meet the following conditions: 

1. Accept the independence of ET and reject the idea of rejoining Indonesia 

2. Accept the results of the 30 August 1999 referendum, as a political defeat for autonomy. 

3. Willing to work with CNRT/Falintil to oppose propaganda, infiltration and guerrilla activities of the "red-and-whites." 

4. Willing to confess that the destruction of TL in 1999 was carried out by the Indonesian military and police with the help of the militias, and to condemn it. 

5. Leaders of pro-integration groups (FPDK, BRTT, PPI, UNTAS) should be willing to publicly apologize to the people of TL and especially the victims of post-referendum violence for their collaboration and consent in the killing and destruction. 

6. To do penance for their wrongdoing (Roman Catholic Catechism, #1459) 

7. To allow and aid in the return of the refugees. 

8. To integrate peacefully with the people of TL 

9. The Church will use its influence and the facilities of its institutions to aid in the reintegration of the refugees 

10. Those who return must be willing to become part of the political process and take part in the forthcoming elections. 

11. Together with CNRT and the political parties, to take part in building a nation that is peaceful, just, democratic, and honors human rights. 

12. When the independence of TL has been consolidated, national reconciliation must take place, followed by reconciliation with Indonesia and Portugal. 

13. To those who choose to remain in Indonesia, we wish you peace. You will always be welcome in the land of your birth, the free and independent Timor Lorosae.

RT reports that the "socialization" visit of UNTAET/UNHCR has been postponed because of statements by Xanana that TNI members were involved in a plot to kill members of the UN Peacekeeping forces. UNTAET denies knowledge of the claim, and says that it was private statement by Mr. Gusmao.

RT -- Rights of refugee children to health care are being ignored by the government, according to a local doctor, who had been providing health care in camps until funding ran out last month. He said the children were especially susceptible to respiratory infections, including pneumonia, while adults were suffering from malaria.

21st March

NTT X-- In the ongoing debate over finding a home for the ex-East Timor 744 Brigade, regional military commander Maj. Gen. W. da Costa arrived in Kefa yesterday to be greeted by demonstrators opposed to building the base in their area. Students and NGO activists joined farmers and church groups in rejecting the plan. Da Costa promised to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict, but warned the demonstrators that there were national interests at stake. East Timor is likely to become a socialist state, and that would put it in ideological conflict with Indonesia. As the day ended, demonstrators were still occupying the regional parliament grounds, vowing to stay until the conflict was resolved.

NTT X-- A group of merchants who had succeeded in smuggling a large amount of goods into East Timor were briefly held hostage at an illegal market not far from the border. Their goods were confiscated. TNI border guards said they had observed the crossing but were unable to stop the merchants from entering East Timor. According to UNPKF sources, East Timorese living in the border area resent Dili merchants using their territory for illegal transactions. This is the likely motive for the hostage-taking. Reportedly the merchants asked TNI to help them get their goods back, but the border guards declined.

RT carries an interview with the Belu military commander in which he denies rumors that his troops have been put on a state of alert. Reasons for the supposed alert were unknown. He also denied that TNI is engaged in espionage in East Timor, saying, "I have had no orders to that effect. To be honest, we have no particular interest in the affairs of UNTAET and the transitional govt., so why would we want to spy on them?" Meanwhile the border guard reported that they had apprehended two East Timorese teenagers who said they had been paid Rp. 600,000 by the Australian civilian police for intelligence on the situation in Belu.

An opinion piece in RT notes that few pro-independence leaders have experience in government; those who ran East Timor under Indonesia are nearly all on the pro-integration side. Xanana may have been a dedicated guerilla, but he has no demonstrated managerial skills. To make matters worse, the authors says, UNTAET is determined to stay as long as possible, in order to maintain their employment. UNTAS sources are quoted saying that the whole referendum and its aftermath was a scheme by white people to get lucrative jobs rebuilding and running East Timor.

24 March

ST - A lot of refugees from E. Timor have chosen to return to the place of their birth. Since Oct. 2000, the PMP Task Force notes that no less than 7000 refugees have returned by land and sea with the help of the Task Force, Untaet, and IOM. Those repatriating are not just farmers but also civil servants, members of the armed forces, and former PPI [militia] members. The most recent group of 500 returned on Friday (23/3) on the Patricia Anne Hotung ship. Although their return seems natural, many feel they aren't being consistent. Is it true that pro-integration enthusiasm is waning? According to Joanico Cesario, former PPI Sector A Commander, this is not the case. "Their voice in the E. Timor election will be very influential for the future direction of E. Timor," he said. He said this shows the world that the pro-integration struggle has changed from a guerilla to a diplomatic struggle. He said those returning are doing so on their own initiative. He hopes former PPI militia returning to their villages will mix with the people of E. Timor while at the same time going through a judicial process. "Go home as E. Timorese with culture, and forgive each other," he said. Joanico has suggested to the NTT govt., as the representative of the Indo. government in NTT, that the refugee re-registration scheduled for early May also involved leaders from E. Timor since their involvement will facilitate the success of the re-registration. "Without the help of E. Timor leaders themselves, the govt. will for sure encounter a lot of obstacles in the registration." He said the obstacles would be due to the loss of faith that many refugees feel towards the govt. The people are fed up with data collection accompanied by promises of aid that are never realized. To renew the refugees' faith, the govt. must involve E. Timor leaders who are close to the refugees and still acknowledged by them. In this way refugees are sure to say they are ready for registration. "The govt. can involve Untas and then Untas will form a working group that consists of E. Timor leaders trusted by the refugees themselves," he stressed.

RT -One more pro-integration member, Mendonca de Araujo, former head of sub-regency Tilomar in Covalima Regency, who returned home to the land of his birth on Wed. (21/3) was arrested and handcuffed by UN Civil Police before he reached his village without a clear reason. He was also blasphemed and cursed by pro-independence members when in fact Mendonca was never involved in acts of violence before in E. Timor. Apparently the Civil Police have acted outside the legal corridor. Last Wed. (21/3), Mendonca along with 210 other refugees decided to return to their homes in Suai-Covalima via the Mota Masin border post between Betun and Suai. On the way towards Suai, Mendonca was suddenly caught and arrested for no clear reason. At the time of the arrest, pro-contra positions were taken by local people. Some sided with Mendonca, others supported the arrest. There is even a reason for the arrest as received by UNTAS Public Relations Deputy, Helio Caetano Moniz, namely that Mendonca is accused of having been involved in the attack on Suai Church on 6 Sept. 1999 and the killing of three priests. Hearing this news, Helio directly met with UNTAET Chief of Staff, N. Parameswaran at Hotel Kristal [in Kupang] who apparently verified that Mendonca has been arrested. Param said he regretted the arrest by Civil Police without a clear reason. Furthermore, Param had already sent the names of those repatriating to UNTAET in E. Timor and those returning were people who weren't involved in actions of violence that occurred following the referendum two years ago. Param also directly contacted several sources in Dili and to Helio he admitted he was confused by the Civil Police's attitude. Furthermore, a Civil Police who accompanied Param at that moment also contacted several of his friends and them to immediately free Mendonca. Helio, who is the younger brother of Mendonca, feels there is not yet good coordination between UNTAET, Civil Police, and several other components in E. Timor. He also criticizes the Civil Police who don't value the legal process nor the value and dignity of humanity. He also accuses the Civil Police of being too easily provoked by CNRT. "I no longer believe CNRT people, because everything that happens is very contrary to the agreements that were discussed in Surabaya and Denpasar," worte Helio in a press release. More than that, Helio said Param had lied to him because earlier he had promised to guarantee the security of his older brother. He also broke his promise that he would pick up Mendonca in Suai in a traditional ceremony. Apparently, Param was in Kupang when Mendonca went to Suai. "I also will stop for awhile the interest of several civilian leaders who want to go home to Suai in the near future while we wait on the results of the court process for Mendonca." It was planned that Mendonca would be taken by helicopter from Suai to Dili to be tried. Therefore, Helio has asked UNTAET to permit him to witness the trial directly in the Dili court.

RT -E. Timor refugees in W. Timor have been invited to asked about the existence of their assets left in E. Timor to the UNTAET socialization team that is to visit W. Timor later. This was expressed by TNI Border Task Force Commander, Col. Irwan Kusnadi, to Antara news agency following a meeting in Atambua yesterday. Besides that, refugees can also ask about their welfare if they want to decide to go home to their villages in E. Timor along with other questions they may have about their future upon their return. Kusnadi said he hoped the UNTAET socialization wouldn't be interpreted as an activity intending to repatriate refugees. Rather the activity is oriented towards the interests of the refugees themselves. The meeting in Atambua with various parties was to prepare for the UNTAET team's visit and look for a solution to several problems related to the presence of E. Timor refugees in Belu. Present at the meeting were Belu Regency Secretary, Joachim Lopez, Head of UNTAS Dili, Agustino Pintho, and a number of middle-ranking officers from the Border Task Force and 1605/Belu and 1618/TTU district military commands. Concerning supervision of security conditions, Vice Chief of Police in Belu, Koeshartono, said the police will coordinate with several related parties in TTU and TTS to prepare sites for socialization. The activities will take place in several regencies that still have refugees. If it goes according to plan the visit will begin with socialization at the Haliwen refugee site in Belu and then move to TTU, TTS and end in Kupang. The timing of the visit is still being discussed by TNI at the regional military level while waiting for further developments regarding the situation and conditions in E. Timor territory. Kusnadi said that for sure the visit will occur soon so that various related parties, including E. Timor refugees, must get things ready for the visit.

RT -The infiltration of Timor Leste members into Indo. territory appears to be on the rise so that the Border Task Force is constantly on guard. Nevertheless, Task Force Commander, Col. Irwan Kusnadi, stresses that his troops are more on watch for infiltration actions that have political nuances. He said his troops are especially on guard for politically motivated infiltration and that if people were infiltrating in order to visit family, that was natural but that such visits were also prevented. It's not impossible such infiltration can occur because there are numerous "mice" paths crossing the 145 km. border. However, the Task Force will continue to try and minimize such infiltration, especially if it is motivated by political elements related to several problems that have recently spread in E. Timor. Concerning illegal border crossings, both by E. Timor citizens into W. Timor and of refugees into E. Timor following the official termination of permission to cross the border, Kusnadi said it couldn't be denied, but that his troops would tighten security in order to close off the "mice" paths. He said TNI could still tolerate non-political border crossings as long as they didn't disturb regional security, but that politically nuanced infiltration couldn't be tolerated for its negative impact on regional security in W. Timor, particularly along the border. TNI troops involved in securing the border region include Battalion 131 Braja Sakti that guards security in the northern area of Belu and Battalion 643 Wanara Sakti in the south while Kostrad Battalion 413 Bromoro guards the TTU-Ambenu border.

27 March

PK -A number of E. Timor refugees staying in Sukabitetek, Boas, E. Malaka Sub-Regency, Belu Regency approached the Belu Regent on Sat. (24/3) to ask why they haven't yet received food supplement funds for Feb.-March 2001. This step was taken after the Sub-regent said funds had not yet been distributed by the Belu Regency. According to the refugees, these funds are normally received at the beginning of each month or at least several days after rice is distributed, but they have received nothing since rice was distributed on 6 March. Head of the Social Division of the Belu Govt, Untung, said the funds hadn't been distributed because the govt. didn't yet have them to distribute. "Ya, I have asked them to be patient until the money is available."

RT -The behavior of certain TNI soldiers at the border is getting more outrageous. After helping to smuggle various basic goods to Timor Leste, they now are exhibiting more brutal attitudes, forcing a number of men to suck each others tongues and engage in anal intercourse (sodomy). Trusted Radar Timor sources said the forced sodomy was carried out by about 21 TNI soldiers on men from Alas Village in Kobalima Sub-regency, Belu Regency. The incident began with a fire that destroyed the home of a member of Alas Village. TNI then caught a number of residents suspected of starting the fire. However, when they were examined not one among them admitted to being the perpetrator. Because they denied being perpetrators they were forced to take off their clothes, to hug and kiss each other, suck each other's tongues, and to commit anal intercourse. The men were threatened with murder if they didn't comply. Meanwhile, the 21 soldiers who caught the men thoroughly enjoyed watching the men, doubling up with laughter. This incident greatly angered villagers and the Village Head who tried to report it to 1605/Belu District Military Command. Unfortunately, 1605/Belu command reacted by trying to frighten the Alas Village Head so he would make the case quiet. However, the Village Head persisted in defending the villagers and so chose to save himself outside the village. Until now he remains in hiding. NTT House of Reps. members who were contacted last Sat. (24/3) cursed the brutality. "If it's true there are fact such as that then it is very uncivilized and inhuman. I strongly curse army behavior such as that. Do they really have no other work so that they must act strangely like that?" were the remarks by head of the Golkar faction, Melkianus Adoe. Adoe is concerned that if Maj. Gen. Da Costa and Resort Military Commander Budi Heriyanto aren't brave to take strict measure, it's not impossible that such incidents will become make the image and credibility of TNI in the eyes of the people that much worse. Yosua Mooy of the Krisna Party faction expressed the same concern and clled on TNI to immediately take strict measures. What's interesting is that when Col. Budi Heriyanto of 161/Wirasakti Command was approached on Sat. for a confirmation he threw a fit, threatening each person who would make such an accusation of his men. He also accused Radar Timor as an extreme group that always blows up any kind of slanted news related to TNI at the border. Unfortunately he didn't give detail the extreme category that he meant, whether it is extreme to the left or right. "Whoever tries to ruin TNI, we will for sure find them. Don't let there be any more efforts to discredit TNI," he threatened. "I myself don't yet know [about this], but you already know first about this issue?" adding that this was the superiority of a paper owned by E. Timorese. "Any issue that puts down Indonesia is for sure heard by Radar Timor before us [TNI]. I want to ask you, are you Indonesians or not?" he asked with a red face. What's interesting is that although Heriyanto claimed the info. about forced sodomy isn't true, he asked 1605 Belu military commander, Lt. Col. Djoko Subandryo, about it. Subandryo confirmed that such an issue was developing. "Please find out the name of that kid [spreading the news] and fire him," Heriyanto ordered over the phone. He then promised he wouldn't let wrongful soldiers off the hook. In short, he doesn't want TNI seen as an animal that is feared. He said he would fire whomever was involved, but stressed that sources of news must be responsible.

RT - The slanted statement that corners Indonesia, including TNI, that states there is now infiltration into E. Timor as evidenced by the arrest of 7 Indonesian citizens who posed as fishermen, isn't well accepted by Commander of 161/Wirasakti unit Kupang, Col. Budi Heryanto. Besides denying the statement he also said it was the statement of a stupid person. "I'm convinced there was no order for that infiltration. That's probably just a rumor being spread to make things chaotic. Isn't there any other work to do.?" he spoke in a high-pitched voice. The surprising news originates from Sydney, Australia and states that as many as 7 people thought to be Indonesian spies were detected in E. Timor. As a consequence there is now fear and concern in E. Timor that the UN is trying to sabotage general elections so they will fail. This info. originates from a leaked report by UN security that also included a warning concerning a subversion plan by party elements in E. Timor that have a relationship with the Indonesian intelligence bureau. According to the report the 7 Indonesians posed as fishermen whose boat wrecked so that they were cast ashore on Atauro Island just 20 sea miles from Dili. However, based on an investigation it was discovered they entered an Indonesian fuel depot in Dili at the end of Feb. "They are suspected of having gone to Atauro Island to observe and report on election registrations in E. Timor," the report said. The UN govt. in E. Timor buys fuel from the fuel depot which is an Indonesian representative in E. Timor. A number of tankers arrive each week to deliver fuel. There are no UN officials at the location and ship personnel as well as passengers are free to enter E. Timor territory. In a section of the report sub- titled "Action Required" there is a warning, "The Atauro-Dili sea route is a route for sabateurs and an increase in threats to general security need attention from security forces in E. Timor." The report does not mention the names of the seven Indonesians and there is also no information about what actions have been taken towards them. Indonesian officials in this area have also not yet made a comment.

RT--The plan by the NTT provincial govt. and House of Reps. to form a Timor Gap Working Group to research and discuss in detail the problem of the Timor Gap and make themselves heard to the Australian govt. has received a positive response from a number of factions in the NTT House of Reps. They think it fitting that the head of the Concern for W. Timor Foundation (YPTB), Ferdi Tanoni, lead this working group. According to Yosua Mooy of the Krisna Faction, if Tanoni is trusted to lead the group, the effort and struggle related to the Timor Gap won't veer from its vision and mission which is bound to succeed. ".the struggle to convince the world outside, like Timor Leste and Australia, won't face too many problems because Ferdi Tanoni is well- known by the public in Timor Leste and Australia," he stressed. Mel Adoe of the Golkar Faction said Tanoni is a talented businessman with a lot of concern for how the potential of the Gap can be used in the interests of the people of W. Timor. He too supports Tanoni as head of the working group. Rev. Matheos Lenggu of the PNI Faction said it is really difficult to find people now who will struggle on behalf of the interests of many people, but feels Tanoni is very appropriate for the job since YPTB for some time has given attention to the matter of Timor Gap potential and how that can be used to benefit W. Timor. "I support Tanoni as long as the Timor Gap struggle is pure and on behalf of the people not for the interests of a group or a few people," said Rev. Lenggu. NTT local businessman, Dominggus Kalelena, said he didn't care who led the working group as long as he/she was brave and had some background with the issue.

RT -Former E. Timor special security [Kamra] was dispersed some time ago, however up to now they continue to want to collect on the promises they received to become members of the police, TNI, civil servant force, etc. This is why they feel their fate is being manipulated. "We have repeatedly struggled regarding the fate of 622 former E. Timor kamra, among others to the office of the Minister of Defense in Jakarta (5/12/2000), the NTT House of Reps. (8/1), and to the Belu House of Reps. Nevertheless everything we've struggled for in terms of evacuation fees from E. Timor, and concerning government promises to distribute us to various agencies up to now have just been lies. Up to now we haven't received aid like other refugees. From where will we get an income to support our families?" stressed the Ex E. Timor Kamra Coordinator, Kamillo dos Santos. He said that if the problem wasn't resolved, it isn't impossible that something unwanted will happen. Because the problem has been given to I Assistant to the NTT Secretariate, Djidon de Haan, he must struggle to resolve it with the central govt. as quickly as possible. "Don't just bargain with promises and not struggle with the central govt.," stressed dos Santos. Another former Kamra member, Sebastiano de Castro, said that if the govt. can't distribute the men to various agencies because they don't fulfill the requirements (for example don't hold a diploma), he hopes the govt. will provide start-up capital to help them start businesses because the 1.5 million rupiah that each kamra received when the forces were disbanded are now gone having been used to pay for various needs of the men's families.

RT - After a year of operations, UNTAS has agreed to make an evaluation and on Sat. (24/3) held a big meeting in Belu to evaluate their struggle to date. The meeting, attended by at least 200 UNTAS officers, was held at a hotel in Atambua. However, it is not certain what the agenda was since the meeting was closed to reporters. Domingos Soares, head of the UNTAS Central Governing Board said that in the meeting various problems related to UNTAS work over the past year were discussed. "The meeting discussed well observations, coordination, and repairs," he said. Besides a discussion of internal affairs, including the dualism of UNTAS leadership for the Ambeno region, several problems related to the future of refugees also received attention along with preparations for refugee registration planned for 1 May 2001. Soares said there would later be a press conference in Kupang during which he would provide more details about what was discussed during the meeting, including comments regarding the Board's kinergy and concern for the refugees along with the implementation of elections in E. Timor. Several other UNTAS functionaries who attended the meeting were also reluctant to say what was discussed in the meeting. "If you want to ask about UNTAS matters you must enter by one door, so please just ask the Head of the Governing Board. I'm just a member," said Armindo Soares, Head of the UNTAS Consultative Board.

RT -Some E. Timor refugees are afflicted by restlessness as the May registration approaches because of a polemic regarding the option of hesitancy (they don't want to go home and they don't want to stay) as an alternative. The PMP Task Force denies they are the ones bargaining for this option. PMP Task Force Secretary, Lt. Col. Suwandi Mihardja told Radar Timor on Sat. that he didn't know about this option and that if later it was presented then it would veer [from what has been agreed]. Furthermore, it's not clear what party is competent to handle refugees who would choose such an option. He stressed there are only two options - to repatriate or to stay and that even those two are being discussed by working groups at the provincial and central govt. levels. Lt. Col. Suwandi said the central govt. had never given a special target regarding the number of refugees to repatriate. He also said the Task Force has never gone into the camps to register people. He said he has been disappointed by refugees who are not serious. E.g., there are refugees who have signed up to return and ask to be picked up. When Task Force members go to get them they aren't there or say in a very relaxed way, "Sir, I don't want to go home." Regarding the 1 May registration, Suwandi said the activity will be facilitated by the transmigration and employment bureau working together with an NGO (Womintra), UNTAS, Statistics Bureau, church and academic parties. UNTAET won't be involved, but the results of the registration will be made responsible to international parties, so UN agencies such as UNHCR and others will be involved as observers. Socialization by UNTAET, UNHCR, IOM, Civil Police, and UN bodies with duties in Timor Leste to refugees in W. Timor will be carried out on Thursday (29/3) beginning in Belu, and then moving to TTU, TTS, and then to Kupang. During these visits there will be explanations about the security situation in E. Timor, business opportunities, education, legal guarantees, and the matter of assets in E. Timor. It is hoped that all refugees, particularly camp coordinators, will attend and participate.

March Menu 
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from