Subject: AFP: Hundreds of Indonesian teachers demand to leave ETimor: report
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:35:42 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

Hundreds of Indon teachers demand to leave ETimor: report

JAKARTA, March 1 (AFP) - Some 300 Indonesian teachers protested Monday in the East Timor capital of Dili to demand relocation to their home provinces, saying they were no longer safe in the troubled territory, a report said.

The migrant teachers, grouped under the East Timor Teachers' Brotherhood Forum, said they had been terrorized and intimidated by their students and other pro-independence East Timorese, the state-run Antara news agency said.

"Teachers working in East Timor have been treated badly by the students and members of community. We, therefore, demand withdrawal (from East Timor) and relocation to other provinces," group leader Nicolaus Kun was quoted by Antara as saying.

"There is no recognition and respect for teachers here," he added.

They also demanded the government compensate them for what they would leave behind in the former Portuguese colony, including houses and land, and provide "legal protection" for those still in service.

During the peaceful protest outside a local education office in Dili the teachers waved banners and sang the Indonesian anthem and the popular Indonesian song "Gelang Sepatu Gelang", or "Let's Go Home."

Four representatives of the group, led by Hari Suprihanto, are currently in Jakarta to meet top officials, including President B.J. Habibie.

The protest followed similar demands by Indonesian doctors in Dili, who have several times forced the state hospital there to close because of hostility from patients and their relatives.

Tensions have been rising in East Timor since Indonesia announced on January 27 that it would consider independence for the territory should its residents reject a broad autonomy offer. Groups in favour or against independence have been consolidating their forces.

Jakarta unilaterally annexed East Timor in 1976 after the military invaded it the previous year. The UN and most countries did not recognize the move and still view Portugal as the official administrator in the territory.

The United Nations since 1984 has mediated talks between Indonesia and Portugal to discuss East Timor, and the two sides are scheduled to meet in New York March 9 to finalize the autonomy offer.

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