Subject: East Timorese Refugees May Seek Asylum Abroad: Community Leader

BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific June 16, 2010

Indonesian community leader: East Timorese refugees may seek asylum abroad

Text of report by Indonesian newspaper Kompas Cyber Media website (www.kompas.com) on 15 June

[Unattributed article: 'Eks Pengungsi Minta Perhatian; Mereka Berencana Ajukan Suaka Politik']

On 14 June 2010, East Timor community figure Joao Quintao (57), a retired Indonesian military senior sergeant, said that the thousands of refugees from East Timor living in refugee settlements in East Nusa Tenggara have poor living conditions and were disappointed with government policy. Quintao made his comments at the Tuapukan refugee camp in Kupang.

According to Quintao, there are approximately 55,000 refugees from East Timor, or 11,000 families, living in West Timor. The refugees live in poor conditions, with some children unable to continue their schooling, and face a lack of land available for farming. While the government did build 11,000 houses for the families, Quintao said most had fallen down, and were never suitable for occupation because they had no bathrooms.

Quintao criticised the Indonesian Government's 2008 decision to withdraw the refugee status of the refugees from East Timor, saying such a decision must be an official, written announcement signed by a representative of the refugees and witnessed by a representative from the United Nations.

Moreover, Quintao stated that if the government is determined to say that there are no longer refugees from East Timor, thousands would request political asylum from friendly countries.

"Representatives of the community from East Timor in Belu, Kefamenanu and Soe have already agreed with this plan," said Quintao.

However, former pro-Indonesia militia commander Eurico Guterres stated that these comments were merely personal views.

"Residents are yet to release any statement from an official forum. We'll discuss all these matters at the congress for former East Timorese in September," Guterres stated.

Source: Kompas Cyber Media website, Jakarta, in Indonesian 15 Jun 10


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