Subject: JP: Xanana says repatriation will boost reconciliation

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

The Jakarta Post November 4, 2002

Xanana says repatriation will boost reconciliation

Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang

East Timor President Xanana Gusmao visited on Sunday more refugees who fled the former Indonesian province to West Timor in 1999 (photo above), renewing calls for them to return home and reconciliate.

Xanana arrived in Atambua, the capital of Belu regency next to East Timor, and stayed overnight before leaving for East Timor on Monday by land.

Earlier on Sunday, Xanana met with nearly 2,000 East Timorese refugees in Kefamenanu and asked them to return home.

"My visit here is to unite the people of Lorosae (East Timor) for a reconciliation. This is for the sake of our children, grandchildren, and our nation," said Xanana who was accompanied by East Timor Parliament President Francisco Guterres, secretary of Indonesian ministry for people's welfare Tejo Yuwono, and East Nusa Tenggara Governor Piet Talo.

Xanana said East Timor people would not take the law into their own hands to deal with ex-members of the pro-Jakarta militia, who are widely accused of atrocities before and after the UN-administered ballot in favor of independence.

Instead, he said East Timor authorities would implement a fair trial for those who committed murder or other crimes in the past.

"For the sake of justice, there must be a fair trial for those involved in crimes," Xanana added.

During his visit to Indonesia's West Timor, Xanana brought with him singers to entertain the refugees.

Before leaving Belu regency via Mota'ain on Monday, the East Timor president will inspect a traditional market built in the border area in the district of Tasifeto.

About 250,000 East Timorese fled their homes following the self-determination ballot in August 1999.

The UN's refugee agency has estimated 30,000 refugees remain in West Timor. Most of them are former militia members, military officers, police, government officials and their followers.

Xanana's visit is the last-ditch effort to convince the remaining refugees to return home before the Dec. 31 deadline.

As of Jan. 1, 2003, international organizations will cease their returnee assistance program and the Indonesian government has also announced that its own program will also end.

East Timorese who decided to stay in Indonesia after that date will no longer be considered refugees.


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