Subject: JP: Xanana seeks speedy repatriation of East Timorese refugees

The Jakarta Post November 27, 2001

Xanana seeks speedy repatriation of East Timorese refugees

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang

East Timorese leader Jose Alexandro "Xanana" Gusmao arrived in Kupang, the provincial capital of East Nusa Tenggara, for a three-day visit on Monday, and immediately called on the more than 143,000 (sic) East Timorese refugees in the province to return home.

Xanana, along with his wife, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, and son, Alexandre Sword Gusmao, arrived in a UNTAET aircraft that landed at Eltari airport at 9:30 a.m. local time, and was greeted by Governor Piet A. Tallo and local officials.

Also accompanying Xanana were David Ximenes, chairman of the Conselho Nacional Resistancia Timorese (CNRT), Kristo Wahyono, the Indonesian representative in Dili, and Christopher Guslon, representative of the International Organization for Migration in Dili.

Xanana held separate closed-door meetings with the governor, Daniel Woda Palle, the chairman of the provincial legislature, and Brig. Gen. Jacky Ully, the chief of the provincial police.

Security in the city was tight with thousands of security personnel deployed at strategic locations.

Asked about the meeting, Xanana said he had conveyed the East Timorese leaders' thanks to the Indonesian government and local people in the province for their humanitarian assistance for the East Timorese refugees.

"I would like to convey the East Timorese people's profound thanks to the Indonesian government and local people in the province for their humanitarian assistance and treatment of the refugees," he said after a meeting with the governor.

He said East Timor had opened its doors for the East Timorese refugees to return home.

"All the people in East Timor want all of the refugees to come home. We want them to return home peacefully, and to live peacefully and safely in our country. The safety of those who come back home will be guaranteed," he said.

Asked about the possibility of offering amnesties to the ex-leaders of former pro-Jakarta East Timorese militias, Xanana said: "I have no authority to do this. It depends on East Timor's National Amnesty Commission to make a peaceful move for reconciliation among all sides in our country."

He said he would bring the amnesty issue to Sweden to discuss it with the Absalon Libersity, a Sweden-based international institution which is involved in trying to bring about reconciliation in East Timor.

Governor Tallo said he and Xanana had discussed how to speed up the repatriation of East Timorese refugees.

"We must be extra-alert in dealing with refugees because it is quite a sensitive issue. We are of one mind that the repatriation of the refugees must proceed cautiously," he said.

Xanana was scheduled to meet with Kupang's Bishop Mgr. Petrus Turang, Maj. Gen. Willem T. da Costa, chief of the Udayana Military Command supervising Bali, West and East Nusa Tenggara, and moderate East Timorese refugee leaders in the province.

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