Subject: Asylum Seekers Being Treated as Foreigners

Also: MANY E TIMORESE RETURN TO AND LIVE IN INDONESIA

E TIMOR ASYLUM SEEKERS BEING TREATED AS FOREIGNERS

November 2, 2003 7:41pm
Antara

Atambua, E Nusa Tenggara, Nov 1 (ANTARA) - The Belu district government said it was treating the 26 East Timorese seeking asylum in Atambua as foreign nationals.

"We will never treat them as if they are former East Timorese refugees. They came to this district as foreign nationals in dire need of protection," chief of the Belu police resort Adjunct Chief Commissioner Agus Nugroho said here Saturday.

He was responding to a statement by certain quarters that the local government had been paying more attention to the 26 asylum seekers than to former East Timorese refugees residing in emergency camps iu the district.

The statement followed the local government's decision to allow the 26 asylum seekers to reside in a newly-constructed resettlement site, he said.

He said the local government was fully aware that the 26 asylum seekers might have to stay in the resettlement area indefinitely.

The East Timorese asylum seekers left their homes in East Timor's Bobonaro district as they could no longer bear continuous intimidation and threats from people who used to be pro-independence before East Timor seceded from Indonesia in 1999.


MANY E TIMORESE RETURN TO AND LIVE IN INDONESIA

November 5, 2003 7:37pm
Antara

Kupang, E Nusa Tenggara, Nov 5 (ANTARA) - A top East Timorese community leader in Indonesia, Armindo Soares, said a lot of East Timorese refugees who participated in the repatriation program returned to Indonesia.

"They do not choose Kupang or other parts of West Timor (East Nusa Tenggara province) as their home, but outside Timor island, like Alor and Flores regencies," he said here Wednesday.

Armindo said they left East Timor for Indonesia and became Indonesian citizens.

The former member of East Timor's legislative assembly during the Indonesian rule made the remark in response to the Indonesian government and IOM-initiated repatriation program for ex-East Timorese refugees.

However, this repatriation program would not resolve the ex-refugee-related problems the Indonesian government was facing because many East Timorese repatriated to East Timor went back to Indonesia, he said.

Each of the ex-refugees in Indonesia will reportedly get a compensation of Rp2.5 million if they participate in the repatriation program, due to be made effective from Nov 1 to Dec 31, 2003.

This program is jointly organized by the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and the Indonesian government .

According to Armindo, it would be better if the budget for the repatriation program was allocated to assist the ex-refugees who still lived in ex-refugee camps to build their new settlement areas.

For those who got involved in this repatriation program should be ashamed because it was like a "humanitarian project".

"Because it is a project, then we must put the fate of people at stake," said the acting chairman of Uni Timor Aswain, a pro-Indonesian organisation.

"Ex-refugees here have become Indonesian citizens so that they will be charged with tax by the East Timorese government if they return to East Timor," he added.

More than 250,000 East Timorese fled East Timor after the UN Mission in East Timor announced the result of the UN-organised plebiscite in September 1999, which was in favor for the pro-independence camp.

The victory of the pro-independence faction in the ballot paved the way for the territory to secede from Indonesia.

Most of the refugees have come back to East Timor since 2000.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)


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