Subject: AFP: UN against proposal to send trouble-makers back to East Timor

UN against proposal to send trouble-makers back to East Timor

JAKARTA, Jan 18 (AFP) - The UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has urged an Indonesian general not to deport trouble-makers in West Timor refugees camps back to East Timor, a report said Thursday.

The state news agency Antara quoted UNTAET Chief of Staff N. Parameswaran as telling Indonesian reporters in the West Timor capital of Kupang that all repatriation of refugees from West Timor should be voluntary.

"If there are refugees who are to return, they should ideally do so by their own choice. Don't force them," he said.

Udayana Military Command chief Major General Williem da Costa recently threatened to crack down on refugees who made trouble in and around the squalid camps in West Timor by sending them back to East Timor.

"If they want to return (to East Timor), they will be welcome, and, for those who want to stay in Indonesia, they must be able to be good citizens who respect the country's laws," Antara quoted Parameswaran as saying.

UN relief workers fled West Timor after pro-Jakarta East Timorese militia murdered three UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) workers in the border town of Atambua in September of last year.

The United Nations said early this week that security conditions in West Timor, where the militia are said to have the run of the camps, have not improved enough to send the aid workers back.

Some 300,000 East Timorese fled (sic) to West Timor when the militia launched a wave of destruction, looting, murder and arson in the wake of a vote for independence from Indonesia in August of 1999.

The militia followed the refugees to West Timor when UN-sanctioned troops arrived in East Timor to quell the violence in September.

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