Subject: JP: Minister clarifies E. Timor deportations


December 08, 2004

Minister clarifies E. Timor deportations

JAKARTA: Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said on Tuesday over 200 Indonesians were deported from neighboring East Timor because they did not have valid documents.

Hassan downplayed suggestions the deported Indonesians, all Muslims, were deported from the predominantly Catholic East Timor because of their religion.

"It has been a long-standing issue because they insisted on staying in the country after the referendum," the minister said, adding that the deported people had refused offers from the Indonesian envoy in East Timor to help them secure passports and other documents.

Earlier last week, the government of East Timor deported 270 Indonesians who had been living in Dili. -- JP



December 7, 2004 8:10pm Antara

Jakarta, Dec 7 (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government does not see the Timor Leste (East Timor) government's decision to deport hundreds of Indonesians recently as something related to the deportees' religion but to administrative considerations and its laws on the presence of foreign nationals in its territory, a spokesman said,

"It is actually an old issue which emerged because a number of Indonesian nationals in East Timor still wanted to live there following the August 1999 popular consultation there," Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said here Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters before attending a coordination meeting on political and security affairs, he said the Indonesian embassy in Dili had duly made efforts to protect them by among other things providing them with passports and travel documents but the embassy's good intentions were not appreciated.

Thus, the minister said, it was only logical that the Timor Leste government eventually deported the 270 Indonesian nationals.

ABout where the deportees would have to stay in Indonesia, Hassan said the government had yet to make a decision on the question. He noted that certain parties had suggested that the deportees be resettled in Langkat district, North Sumatra province.

The deportees hailed from different areas in Indonesia, including Cirebon (West Java ), Aceh province and South Sulawesi province.

Earlier, ex-East Timorese figure Armindo Soares had said the East Timorese government's policy of deporting the Indonesian nationals because they lacked stay permits was a normal measure.

"The deportation has been construed differently only because it involved hundreds of people," Armindo said in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday (Dec.6).

Armindo who was chairman of the East Timor provincial legislative council when the region was an Indonesian province, said by the deportation the Timor Leste government had shown its firm attitude toward foreign nationals who failed to meet immigration regulations prevailing in that country.

The Indonesian nationals who had been staying in the compound of the An Nur Mosque in Alor village in Dilli had been reminded repeatedly that they must have passports and stay permits before the Timor Leste government made the decision to deport them, he said.

"That is the information we have. The government gave them warnings but they preferred to stay on mosque grounds. The Timor Leste government decided to deport them as a last resort measure," Armindo said.

He further said the ex-East Timorese community that had decided to stay in Indonesia would not blame the Timor Leste government for its measure.

After being a Portuguese colony for 400 years, East Timor integtrated with Indonesia in 1976. But in 1999 a UN-administered people's ballot showed the majority of the East Timorese people to prefer independence over remaining part of Indonesia with wide-ranging autonomy.


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