Subject: West Timor newspaper summaries 11-17 May

West Timor Press Summaries 11th May - 17th May

NTT X - NTT Eks pres; PK - Pos Kupang; ST - Surya Timor; RT - Radar Timor; SP - Sasando Pos

11th May

PK: Refugees are obliged to take their stance in the registration scheduled to be conducted in June, said Vice Governor, Drs. J. Pake Pani in his office yesterday (10/5). Those who do not make any decisions in the registration will be regarded as abstention. They could be assumed to have fulfilled their daily needs and would not need to be aided anymore. However, registration working groups will conduct information dissemination sessions in the camps regarding registration so that the refugees would feel free to use their rights in the registration later. The Vice Governor added that he had spoken to Head of Untas, Filemeno de Hornay, and Untas are willing to assist the government in the socialisation campaign. The registration will involve 64 international and national observers. Although the Security Phase 5 has yet to be lifted by the UN, the presence of International observers is important to witness the fairness of the registration process and to prevent prejudice from the international world.

PK: At least 500 East Timor refugees residing in South Central Timor regency went to the office of the legislative assembly of the respective regency yesterday (10/5). The refugees were angry and furiously demanded an immediate disbursement of their side-dish money amounting to Rp.300 million. The situation turned a bit tense until the Military Chief (Dandim) of the regency, Let. Col. Drs. Pieter Lobo came to the site and calmed the refugees. Accompanied by the commander, a number of refugees then met with the Regent, Willem Nope to clarify the distribution of the fund. To the regent, the representatives of refugees explained that they were angry because they are now in hunger while they heard that the refugees sheltering in North Central Regency had already received their side-dish money. After contacting Vice Governor, Regent Nope informed to the refugees that the fund is available and ready to be distributed soon. The refugees are advised to be patient.

NTT X: A number of refugees from Manututo District East Timor armed with sharp weapons ran amok and attacked the residents of Sukabiren village, Atambua city subdistrict in Atambua. The attack was done approximately at 10.30 pm, on Wednesday night (9/5) when people were celebrating newly baptized children at a villager's house. Two persons were reportedly wounded in the incident. Hundreds of villagers then went to the local police demanding the police to capture the assailants. The villagers could only be dispersed after head of UNTAS, Manututo Selestiano De Sousa, came to the site and assured the villagers that he would bring the attackers within 48 hours.

12th May

RT: IOM will reportedly provide funds for the empowerment of the Joint Borderline Post. Acting Head of District Planning Bureau (Bappeda) of Belu, Drs. M. Moruk said yesterday (11/05) that IOM would procure the funds amounting to $100,000 for the facility while the local government will provide the land and build the posts. For this plan, the local government of Belu convened a coordination meeting on Friday (11/5) attended by several related institutions to discuss the facilities needed for the posts. The list of facilities will be coordinated with IOM later in a meeting in Bali to be held on May 17 and 18, 2001.

14th May

RT: The Priests Council of Atambua Diocese have released an official statement with regards to the bomb terror at the Atambua Bishop's residence on April 23. In the letter signed by 18 members of the Priests Council including the Bishop of Atambua, Mgr. Anton Pain Ratu, the Council strongly condemned the terror act done by any one or any group of people. Although, the bomb found in the site was only a hoax bomb, it has created worries and fear among the people of Atambua, therefore the Council urged the security personnel, especially Belu Police and the NTT Chief of Police to intensify the investigation to find the alleged suspects of the bomb terror.

NTT X: Two villagers from Maritaing village, Alor reportedly found 6 sacks containing chemical powder identified as explosive materials in a place 25 km away from Maritaing village. Alor Military Commander (Dandim), Muhammad Nur, stated that a joint team would be established to investigate the explosive materials. The explosive materials were assumed to be used by the local fishermen to catch fish, but the military commander said this assumption needed to be investigated further.

NTT X: The Secretary of Uni Timor Aswain, Mateus BC Guides gave a statement on Saturday (12/5) in Atambua regarding the attack launched by the refugees to the locals on 9th May. He stated that the refugees should be aware of the situation they are going through at present. The act of attacking the locals shows that the refugees do not have self-awareness and have acted against the law. Moreover, all violent acts done by the refugees are against Timorese customs and traditions. Guides appealed both the refugees and locals not to be easily provoked by particular groups. Separately, Vice Chief of Belu Police, Commr, Drs. Koeshartono said that he had met with the local community and youth leaders of Sukabiren village, Atambua who were attacked by refugees, and they were willing to follow peace process to settle the problem. The Vice Chief said that this could prevent a horizontal conflict between the people of Atambua and the refugees. The attack launched by the refugees was done on 9th of May at about 10.30 pm, when Sukabiren Villagers were celebrating newly baptized children. The villager's house was stone-pelted and two villagers were seriously wounded in the raid.

15th May

PK: Acting Commander of Kapolres Belu, Ajun. Chief Commr. MM Patty asserted that the police had detained the main suspect of the bomb terror in the bishop of Atambua's residence and is at present being interrogated. However, Patty refused to name the detained suspect for the sake of an investigation. Meanwhile, the police are still pursuing other alleged suspects. There have been six witnesses being questioned for the bomb terror incident. The dossier of the case will be completed soon and handed over to the prosecutors' office, Patty said.

RT: A joint coordination meeting is scheduled today in Atambua to establish an operating team for registration (Tim Penyelenggara Registrasi). The team will consist of governmental officials, community and religious leaders and refugee leaders. The team will closely work with the provincial operating registration team to make preparations for the registration.

RT: Speaking with regards to the recent decision by Merpati Nusantara Airlines to halt the Kupang-Darwin flights, Head of Tourism Office of East Nusa Tenggara, Markus Dewa admitted that from a business point of view the decision is understandable. However, he appealed the airline company not only to view it from a business perspective but also from a social aspect. Dewa admitted a sudden drop of foreign visitors to the province after the relationship between the two governments turned bad and the tourism situation worsened by the issuance of the UN Security PhaseV status in the area. The Australian government has banned its citizens to travel to the respective province since then.

RT: Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and its counterpart, the Atambua Diocese Social Organisation (YASKA) starting from May has stopped their rice aid to the refugees in both Belu and North Central Timor Regencies. The two organisations have shifted their rice aid program, an emergency program, to an empowerment program. This will involve both the locals and refugees to share and transfer knowledge and experience among the participants. Farmers and fishermen groups throughout Belu regency have already started the program since early this month.

16th May

RT: Efforts made by the police of Belu to reconcile the conflicting groups; refugees and locals following the raid incident by the refugees on May 9, failed yesterday. Police of Belu held a closed-door meeting between the two groups to seek a peaceful way to settle the conflict. However, the meeting failed since the locals, as victims, insisted to take legal actions towards the attackers, said Police Chief (Kasat) Ipda Simor Bria in Atambua yesterday. Attending the meeting was Head of Untas Manatuto, Salustiano de Saosa. Ipda, Bria who added that the police will still follow lawful ways towards the suspects of the incident, yet they will also try peaceful ways to reconcile the two groups.

RT: After the verdict by the court to release former pro-integration fighter leader, Joao Mendoza, East Timor refugees from Kovalima district housing in Betun decided to participate in the repatriation. At least 57 persons (11 households) had registered to join the repatriation today through Metamauk borderline post. However, as many as 11 refugees sheltering in Kupang cancelled their decision to return today without any clear reason.

ST: Police Chief of Motaain Post, Da Silva told the press yesterday (15/5) that UN Civilian Police and Indonesian Police are trying to increase coordination by holding regular meetings which has been held five times so far. There will be another coordination meeting scheduled to be held today attended by top officials of the two forces. Issues discussed in the meeting would be around the problems faced at the border, such as border crossing, the smuggling of drugs and explosive materials.

17th May

NTT X: The Indonesian government and UNTAET agreed to discuss the establishment of a joint border committee on June 15 later this year. Chairman of the Indonesian delegation, Sudjadnan Parno Hadiningrat informed journalists in the sidelines of a closed-door bilateral meeting between the two institutions yesterday in Denpasar-Bali (16/5). Hadiningrat was quoted as saying that the two parties had agreed to devise nine chapters of the committee. Meanwhile, there would be another meeting on June 15 to discuss the establishment of the Police and Security chapter of the joint border committee with regards to the borderline issue. Other topics discussed in the meeting yesterday were the upcoming refugees' registration, former Indonesian public servants/military members' pension fund, and asset compensation. Concerning the registration process, UNTAET revealed that the institution is yet to ensure absolute security for the registration program, however it gives a security warranty for all East Timorese towards a fully independent East Timor. About the pension fund, two parties agreed to procure the pension fund taken from the assistance given by donor countries and this will be in one package with repatriation, registration, resettlement and camp maintenance programs. Meanwhile, Secretary Assistant of Registration Socialisation Officer Team, Usman Abubakar told journalists on Tuesday (15/5) in Denpasar that there would be around 1600 staff involved in the registration consisting of local people, international and national non-governmental organisation staff, and some related governmental institution staff.

NTT X: Speaking after the coordination meeting with the registration working group of Belu District yesterday (15/4), Head of provincial registration working group, Ir. Yoseph Setyohadi, MPA said that preparation for the registration is being underway. The failure of the registration conducted by UNCHR last year is a good lesson for the upcoming registration committee. It is targeted to improve the quality of the registration staff through various trainings, and procurement of sufficient registration materials and facilities. Also attending the meeting in Atambua yesterday were several refugee leaders. The meeting mainly discussed the preparation and mechanism of the registration. Head of Administration Division of District Government Office of Belu, Bonafasius Bowe appealed to any related party to support the success of the registration.

NTT X: Secretary General of UNTAS, Filomeno de Hornay was reported to say on Wednesday (16/5) that approximately 95% of refugees would choose to stay in Indonesian territory for the upcoming registration. This is due to the little improvement of security situation in East Timor under the UN administration. Therefore, he appealed to the Indonesian government to prepare things related to this possible result, such as preparing a resettlement program.

NTT X: The meeting between Bishop of Baucau East Timor, Mgr. Basilio do Nascimento, SDB and Uni Timor Aswain (UNTAS), pro-integration organisation, will be conducted on 28 to 31 May in Kupang. The confirmation of the meeting was revealed by the Secretary of UNTAS, Filomeno de Hornay to Antara yesterday in Kupang.

RT: In the bilateral meeting held yesterday in Denpasar with the Indonesian government, UNTAET questioned the fate of former customers of PT. Jamsostek. UNTAET's representative, Peter Galbright revealed that as of now the insurance company has yet to pay the claims of its 103 former customers. Responding to this, Mohamad Arif of PT. Jamsostek replied that this was because the company has not received the list of the former customers' names from UNTAET. Basically Jamsostek will not hamper any customer to get their rights, he added.

RT: Head of Social Department Office of NTT, dr. Husen Pancratius and Head of Social Bureau of District Secretary Office of NTT, Stanis Tefa SH, strongly refuted the statement made by Deputy of Law and Human Rights, UNTAS, Miguel Atibau, who accused the government to have taken away an amount of money from refugees' fund. Both governmental officials asserted that the less amount of side dish money received by the refugees lately was due to a sudden upsurge of refugees' number in the territory and this was not compatible with the data held by the government. The government were then forced to distribute the same amount to all of the refugees in the areas. Husein stated that the government was really taken aback with the data held by the district government showing a continual increase of refugees presently sheltering throughout the regencies.

SP: Chairman of East Timor National Business Association, Oscar Lima, told Sasando Pos over the phone that the country's future economy would largely depend on the revenue it will gain from the exploitation of Timor Gap. All the people in East Timor are hopeful that their Economic Minister, Dr. Maria Alkatiri would be successful in the Timor gap treaty talks. This would ensure a bright future for East Timor's economy.

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