Subject: DPA: Indonesia mulls removing remains of 3,000 "heroes'' from East Timor

Indonesia mulls removing remains of 3,000 ``heroes'' from East Timor

06/16/2002 00:26:01

Jakarta (dpa) - East Timor promised over the weekend to facilitate the evacuation of 3,000 bodily remains from the Indonesian Heroes Cemetary in the newly independent state should Jakarta decide to move them, news reports said Sunday.

"The East Timorese government will respect the decision to be made by the Indonesian government,'' Indonesian Social Affairs Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah told the state-run Antara news agency shortly after winding up a three-hour visit to Dili, East Timor's capital, over the weekend.

Chamsyah, accompanied by Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Hari Sabarno and Trade Minister Rini Suwandi, visited East Timor Saturday to discuss bilateral cooperation with the newly established country, which was an Indonesian territory for 25 years.

In 1999, under a United Nations-backed referendum, the East Timorese people voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia, which had invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and proclaimed it part of the Indonesian archipelago in 1976.

East Timor changed its name to Timor Loro Sae on May 20 this year, when it officially proclaimed its independence.

Indonesia President Megawati Sukarnoputri attended the independence ceremony but stayed only for a three-hour stopover that included a visit to the Indonesian Heroes Cemetary.

An estimated 3,000 Indonesian soldiers died in East Timor between 1976 to 1999 during ``integration.'' Unknown thousands of East Timorese freedom fighters also died in that period.

The Indonesian government has yet to decide whether it will remove the remains of its heroes from the now independent Timor Loro Sae, Chamsyah said.

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