Subject: E. Timorese students in W. Timor allegedly pressured to leave

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

E. Timorese students in W. Timor allegedly pressured to leave

KUPANG, Indonesia, June 9 (Kyodo) - Indonesian officials are currently investigating allegations that at least 16 East Timorese students studying in the Indonesian territory of West Timor have been pressured by pro-Jakarta East Timorese to return home.

Nani Kosapilawan, spokesman of the East Nusa Tenggara Province, which includes West Timor, said Sunday the investigation was launched in response to a letter from Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda asking about the allegations.

According to Hassan, the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) reported the 16 students have been pressured to leave by pro-Jakarta supporters because their relatives voted in favor of East Timor's independence from Indonesia.

East Timor gained became independent on May 20 after more than four centuries under Portuguese rule, 24 years of Indonesian occupation, and two and a half years under the UNTAET.

''The East Nusa Tenggara governor has coordinated with security personnel and related institutions to ensure the 16 students are fully protected while the investigation is conducted,'' Kosapilawan said.

One of the students told Kyodo News that he and some of his friends have been urged to leave West Timor by pro-Jakarta East Timorese as their parents were among those who voted overwhelmingly in favor of separating from Indonesia in a U.N.-sanctioned referendum in 1999.

''They said we are not red-and-white (the colors of the Indonesian national flag), so we cannot study in the Indonesian territory,'' said Gregorio, a student at the Catholic University of Widya Mandiri in Kupang, the East Nusa Tenggara provincial capital.

A spokesman for pro-Jakarta East Timorese, however, denied the allegation, saying it was a ''groundless'' and merely an effort to discredit pro-Jakarta East Timorese.

''We want the East Timorese government to reveal who is accused of intimidating the students, and who the students are,'' said the spokesman.

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