Subject: Re: AN: Refugees from Ermera Reject Reconciliation Meet

Antara - The Indonesian National News Agency

September 28, 2003


Atambua, E Nusa Tenggara, Sept 28 (ANTARA) - Ex-East Timorese refugees in Belu district, Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province, hailing from East Timor's district of Ermera have rejected any plan to hold a reconciliation meeting.

The former East Timorese refugees turned down the plan as they were not involved in the program prepared by the East Timorese government and people, an ex-refugee figure, Fransisco Salsinha, said here Sunday.

"All the figures and leaders of ex-refugees hailing from Ermera have agreed to reject every invitation to the expected reconciliation meeting from the East Timorese government and people as ex-refugees were not involved in the meeting's program," Fransisco said.

He said the East Timorese government under President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri had prepared the program on the reconciliation meeting to be held on the border shared by Indonesia and East Timor.

The meeting was expected to take place 14 times in five border areas -- Salele, Oesilo, Pasabe, Nunura and Batugade -- from August 22 to November 27, 2003.

However, the ex-refugees were not involved in the preparation of the reconciliation meeting's program as the East Timorese government only provided the schedule of the meeting without any dialog with the ex-refugees discussing the agenda.

In addition, Fransisco said, the East Timorese government has set various conditions on the meeting, including that on the number of certain participants representing the ex-refugees.

Furthermore, the participants representing the ex-refugees were not allowed to leave the venue of the meeting during the reconcilation dialog, he disclosed.

"They have imposed firm conditions on the representatives of the ex-refugees, while the delegates from East Timor could attend the reconciliation meeting without such requirements," he said.

According to Fransisco, the reconciliation meeting was held at the initiative of the East Timorese government and people but not of the ex-refugees.

Thus, he asserted, all the former refugees originating from East Timorese district of Ermera have turned down every invitation to the reconciliation meeting, but concentrated on efforts to set up houses in the border areas.

In support of Fransisco's remarks, another ex-refugee figure Ansesco Sessas said the ex-refugees refused to attend the reconciliation meeting so long as its program was unilaterally prapared by the East Timorese government.

"As if the meeting was held at the request of the ex-refugees who had appealed for a reconciliation and return to our ancestral homeland. Notwithstanding, we have self-esteem for such an activity," he said.

Ansesco called on the East Timorese government and people not to consider the ex-refugees as the losing group in the 1999 popular consultation, and not to classify them as second class citizens in East Timor.

He also pointed out that so long as the East Timorese government divided the people into the losers and the winners, or the heroes and traitors to the nation, there will never be peace in East Timor.

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