Subject: West Timor newspaper summaries 18-23 May

West Timor Press Summaries

18th May - 23rd May 2001

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

18th May

RT: The provincial Legislative Assembly questioned the statement made by Deputy of UNTAS about the possible result of the refugees' registration. Vice Speaker of the house, Dr. Nico Wolly, MTh regretted the statement. The statement has only caused confusion for the people in West Timor since UNTAS based the statement on the uncertain security situation in East Timor. They have used it as the reason why the refugees would tend to stay. On the contrary, all news in the papers indicates optimism of improved security in East Timor. Journalists do not depict significant worries over security situation in East Timor. This was endorsed by the Chief of UNTAET Staff, N. Paremeswaran, who previously visited West Timor to say the situation in East Timor is favourable. Regarding the appeal made by Hornay towards early preparation for the resettlement program, the Vice Governor of East Nusa Tenggara stated that the decision needs to be appraised carefully, and the aspiration of the people of East Nusa Tenggara should be taken into account whether they wish to live together with the refugees.

NTT X: Rector of Artha Wacana Christian University, Dr. Thom Therik, and other academicians stated that refugees who choose not to return to East Timor would have to abide by Indonesian law. Responding to the statement by one of the top officials of UNTAS about the possible big number of refugees wishing to stay, Therik criticized that a clarification needs to be made of Untas' comment, as an organisation to cater refugees' aspiration. Registration is considered the best way to know the stance taken by the refugees in West Timor, Therik added.

NTT X: An effort for reconciliation among the East Timorese is the soon to be established reconciliation council. UNTAS Deputy, Filomeno de Hornay said yesterday (17/05) as a follow up action after the meeting in Bali, a reconciliation council would be formed to devise reconciliation formats appropriate for the people of East Timor. He reasoned that the people of East Timor have their own ways of settling conflict among themselves. A tradition called, Biti bot, is an occasion when the conflicting groups sit together on a traditional mat made of palm leaves (Tikar). However, it is still a long way, said Hornay. Taking examples, the conflicting groups in Austria needed 300 talk-sessions and 36 meetings for those in Cambodia before reaching true reconciliation, he added.

NTT X: Visitors who have stayed in East Timor for at least 6 months (or 128 days) will also be registered in the forthcoming registration. The registration would not only register those categorized as East Timor refugees but also those who have visited and stayed in East Timor for a particular length of time, said Head of Provincial Registration Working Group, Ir. Yoseph Setyohadi, MPA. As many as 41,481 refugee households are estimated residing in Belu regency at present. From a secondary data that had been coordinated with Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Social Affairs, Belu is housing the biggest number of East Timor refugees numbering to 29,303 persons, said Setyohadi in Atambua on Wednesday (16/5).

19th May

RT: Border crossing activities through Motaain Post for those holding official documents has reportedly increased. The Police Post Commander of Mota Ain, Brigma. Apolinario da Silva told Antara yesterday (18/9) that there are at least a hundred people crossing the border through the post every day. The border crossers include those using vehicles and walking towards the UNTAET Post in Batugade region. At least one foreigner is seen passing through the post each week, said the police chief.

21st May

NTT X: Community leaders in Atambua on Saturday were quoted as saying to NTT Ekspress, that Belu regency are not able to host refugees anymore. The number of refugees continues to rise and it has gone beyond the capacity of the regency. People of Belu have appealed to the refugees to take a stance in the upcoming refugees whether to stay or return home. However, if they opt to stay, the people of Belu are hoping that the refugees are willing to be relocated in other areas in Indonesia. The community leaders added that making this appeal does not necessarily mean the people of Belu do not like the presence of refugees.

RT: Responding to the statement made by Udayana Regional Military Command, (Pangdam) Maj. Gen. Willem da Costa, Law and Human Rights Deputy of Untas, Carlos A. Maria de Fatima SH stated that he regretted the statement made by the commander and was concerned that it would discourage the refugees who are now ready to participate in the registration. The statement could also incite horizontal conflicts among the refugees since they might feel neglected by their leaders, Fatima remarked. Commander Willem da Costa made a strong statement saying that East Timor elites were not concerned of the refugees' fate but only cared for their own political interests. This was a counter statement from the Commander after one of Untas' Deputy, Filomeno de Hornay, stated earlier that at least 95% of refugees in the camps would opt to stay in Indonesia in the upcoming registration.

RT: Borderline Security Taskforce Commander, Let. Col. Magna Candra was quoted as saying that he had reminded the UNPKF to improve control over the visits of East Timorese to Indonesian territory. He had requested the UN Peace Keeping Force to determine the same length of time of visit. TNI determines a three-day length visit for Indonesian citizens to stay in East Timor, while UNPKF gives a ten-day length for East Timorese to stay in West Timor. This creates new problems on the ground. A uniformity of visiting time is needed for better control over border crossers, the commander remarked.

NTT X: A truckload of merchandise owned by local traders escaped the control of borderline security to go through Motaain post in Belu on Friday. Contacted on Saturday (19/05), Commander of Borderline Security Taskforce, Let. Col. Magna Candra stated that the military did not know there was a truck loaded with merchandise goods passing through Motaain post on Friday (18/05). This is because their names were not on the list for trader holding border-crossing permit. However, the fact on the ground showed that five local traders could go through the post with a truckload of daily goods. The traders were allowed to go through since they were able to produce passports and other official documents. Head of Customs Office of Motaain Post, Rembrad J. D, stated that his officials could not hold the traders since they had an official notification letter of exporting goods.

22nd May

PK: Local Military Commander of North Central Timor regency, Let. Col. Bambang Supriyatno on Thursday (17/5) requested local traders in the respective regencies to stop the smuggling of goods to the district of Oecusse since it would only trigger the scarcity of basic foods in the regency.

NTT X: Refugees sheltering in Belu regency agreed to establish a new paramilitary called Forum of Red and White Defenders with Eurico Gutterres as its commander. This organisation will con sist of two sections; the Red and White Defenders Taskforce and the Natural Disaster Taskforce. The Red and White Taskforce members will wear an army-like uniform including boots and barrettes, while the Natural Disasters Taskforce will wear red and white uniforms with a red cap. The agreement to form a new organisation was reached on Monday (21/5) after the meeting of former pro integration fighter leaders at the UNTAS office in Atambua, Belu. The agreement was a follow-up decision after the meeting between refugee leaders with former Pro-Integration Fighters Commander, Eurico Gutteres in Jakarta last month. Head of UNTAS Dili, Agustinho Pinto stated that the new organisation adopts a nationalism platform with a mission of social humanitarian but not politics. It will accept both refugees and locals to become its members. The Red and White Taskforce will serve to promote nationalism for its members and the people of Indonesia to defend the national integrity. The Natural Disaster Taskforce will be working in the humanitarian sector and will play its role if natural disasters occur. Pinto added that the new organisation would be different than UNTAS. UNTAS is a political organisation whose mission is to struggle for refugees' interests while the new organisation is a social humanitarian organisation with a mission to maintain the integrity of the Republic of Indonesia. As of now, the new organisation has reportedly registered at least 2,600 members who are mostly former members of Pro-Integration Fighters and their families.

NTT X: Members of a refugee family came to the district legislative assembly of Belu reporting a kidnap of a family member. Rogerio Coli Cutu da Silva (34) has been reported missing since May 1, 2001. Security personnel at the borderline post of Mota Ain were reported about the case five days after da Silva was known missing. Three other refugees were alleged suspects of the kidnapping and the police managed to detain one of the suspects named Adao. However, after being questioned, Adao was then released. The family of da Silva was not satisfied with the release and came to the house members to report the case. Local Police Chief (Kapolres) MM Patty and Intelligence Section Chief (Kasat Serse) Simon Bria affirmed the kidnapping case and stated that the alleged suspect had to be released due to lack of evidence.

RT: Youths released after being questioned (Kupang) 17 youths, mostly university students, were released after being interrogated in the police base yesterday. The youths were involved in the fighting occurred on Sunday night (20/1) in Oesapa Village. Kupang Police Chief (Kapolres), Williardi Wizar stated that the police have filed their identity in case they create more disturbances. Regarding the alleged use of assembled firearms in the fighting, Chief of Police, Wizar stated that it was not proven since after combing the fighting site police could not find evidence indicating the use of firearms during the clash.

RT: Belu Police Chief, M. Patty affirmed the report that on May 16 there was a fighting incident between a refugee and a local family in Atambua Belu. The refugee family was reportedly staying at the local's house and the fighting incident occurred after the local family wanted to force the refugee to leave the house. This incident incited anger from other refugees. Fortunately, the police were dispatched to the site and were able to control the situation.

RT: Refugees' registration to influence public policy making (Jakarta). Speaking to the press after a meeting about the refugees' registration, Governor of East Nusa Tenggara stated that the provincial government would try its utmost efforts to make the upcoming refugees' registration a success. He added that the refugees' registration is really important since it would determine the policy making at both provincial and central levels. The Governor is hopeful the registration, scheduled on June 6, would later lead to a better fate for refugees living in camps at present.

23rd May

RT: Members of the House of Representatives of Belu gave a response towards the establishment of a Red and White Defenders Forum. They stated that the refugees do not necessarily need to establish a special organisation to defend their country since it is an obligation for every citizen to defend the people and the republic. Vice Speaker of the House stated that the establishment of the organisation would only lead to misconception among the people.

RT: Socialisation session by the provincial government of East Nusa Tenggara for top executives of UNTAS and head of sub districts in Belu failed to materialize yesterday. The reason of the cancellation was due to most UNTAS members and religious leaders not present at the session. The First Assistant of Secretary Office of Belu, Drs. Charles Bisinglasi remarked that the notification letter from the provincial government was received late on Monday (21/5). Therefore the district government could not do much to notify all UNTAS executives residing in Belu. The session was agreed to be postponed with a recommendation from one of the attendants to invite religious leaders, community leaders, refugee camp coordinators and the other UNTAS executives.

RT: The refugee registration committee will provide 507 posts for registration throughout the province. The registration, scheduled on June 6 of this year, will involve at least 1,600 registration staff and 80 observers from international and local observers, including government officers. The system of the registration will be described as follows. Those who wish to participate should have stayed in East Timor for the last 5 years. A household head could take his family along in the registration session, but he will be the one to come in the booth and make the choice. There will be two symbols used in the registration. A picture of the Eagle (Garuda) to represent the decision to stay in Indonesia, and a picture of Timor island to represent returning home.

After, the whole family will be marked with ink on their fingers indicating they have participated in the registration. They will be given a family card that they would use to receive food aid or side- dish money after the registration. The risk of not participating in the registration for a refugee is that he might not be counted as someone eligible for the aid after the registration since everyone must produce the family card to receive aid.

SP: The Secretary General of UNTAS expressed his disappointment with the change of symbols used for the upcoming registration. Initially, the symbols to be used in the registration were Red and White Flag, and the picture of Timor Island. The Red and White symbol would mean staying in Indonesia, and the picture of Timor island would represent the decision to return home. However, the government changed the Red And White symbol to the Garuda (Eagle). UNTAS was disappointed of the sudden revision of the symbol since it had already conducted its socialisation campaign by using the first symbol.

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