Subject: SCMP: Military families flee troubled E. Timor
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:39:38 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

South China Morning Post Tuesday March 2 1999

Military families flee troubled E. Timor

JENNY GRANT in Jakarta

The Indonesian military is joining a growing exodus of migrants pulling their wives and children out of the troubled eastern territory.

Military families had fully booked a weekly C-130 Hercules flight back to Jakarta and Denpasar up until April, official sources said yesterday.

"Police and non-East Timorese soldiers are sending their families out on these free flights," said the source.

The state-owned Merpati Airlines is refusing to accept cargo because planes are booked to capacity with passengers carrying excess luggage. "People are pleading with me to get their refrigerators and television sets on the plane, but I have to say 'No, I'm sorry'," said Taufan, general manager of Merpati in East Timor.

Mr Taufan sent his wife and small daughter back to the central Java town of Semarang last week.

Migrants from neighbouring islands are leaving East Timor across its land border to West Timor. Residents say up to 50 trucks piled high with furniture make the daily trip west from Dili.

Camps to house 5,000 people are being built in the border town of Atambua, a base in 1975 for thousands of pro-Indonesian refugees who fled East Timor.

Migrants from Java and Ujung Pandang in South Sulawesi are struggling to board two passenger ships due to leave Dili this month.

There are 3,000 people booked on the vessel due to leave today. "We only have one other ship heading west on March 16," said an official from the shipping ticket office.

In Dili yesterday, 300 migrant teachers protested to demand repatriation, saying they were no longer safe in East Timor.

•Indonesian President Bacharuddin Habibie wants East Timor to decide on the question of autonomy before national elections on June 7, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday. Mr Downer said an "autonomy package" could be finalised at the next round of UN-sponsored talks

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