Subject: AFP: Six East Timorese enter 2nd year in embassy
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 1998 17:48:46 +1300
From: sonny inbaraj <> Organization: The AustralAsian

Six East Timorese enter second year holed up in Austrian embassy

Fri 18 Sep 98 - 07:47 GMT

JAKARTA, Sept 18 (AFP) - Six East Timorese including two small girls this week enter their second year holed up in seclusion in the Austrian embassy here, where they sought asylum 12 months ago on Saturday.

And the embassy says there is no sign of them moving soon. "They are still there, they are all right but for now there is no solution in sight," Austria's ambassador to Indonesia Viktor Segalla told AFP.

Indonesia's foreign affairs ministry spokesman, Ghaffar Fadhyl, said the group was "probably happy in the embassy. They don't want to get out."

"And they are well fed," Fadhyl added.

Segalla said the embassy was bound by humanitarian reasons to house the group, which he said did not pose any particiular problem.

"Things have begun to move on the East Timor question and I hope that will create the momentum to resolve the case," he said.

Meanwhile two couples and the two daughters, now aged six and eight, of one of the couples live in a little apartment inside the chancery building where they cook their own food provided by the embassy.

They are visited by a priest and occasionally by family members "if everyone agrees," the ambassador said.

The adults, at least one of whom is highly politicized, do not have a telephone or television but are allowed newspapers and a radio.

When on September 19 last year they slipped into the well-guarded Austrian embassy building, former president Suharto, the architect of the 1975 invasion and subsequent annexation of East Timor, was still in power. Since then Suharto has been forced to resign and Indonesia has been thrown into its worst economic crisis in 30 years.

Under pressure from the international community, which has largely refused to recognize the annexation and condemned the brutal army repression of East Timorese, Jakarta is now proposing a special autonomy status for the former Portuguese colony.

During the past five years some 150 East Timorese have sought asylum in foreign embassies in the Indonesian capital. Most have left a few days later for Portugal, which the United Nations continues to regard as East Timor's rightful administrator.

But in the case of the six in the Austrian embassy, prolonged efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross have been to no avail. The embassy will only say officially that it has no idea why the Indonesian authorities have not granted the usual permission for them to leave.

On the Indonesian side, the foreign ministry spokesman would only say that a legal enquiry was underway and its results must be awaited.

Fadyl told AFP the refugees in the Austrian embassy could take advantage of one of the forms of amnesty offered by Suharto's successor B.J. Habibie, who has already freed some jailed East Timorese.

One of the adults, the head of a family, is believed to be implicated in the discovery in Java of a home-made bomb factory in which some Westerners were said to have been involved.

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