BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home    June news

"Preparation for the registration was a failure. The limited time, the lack of non-partisan people to spell out the consequences of both choices to the refugees, the lack of information material, all contributed to this. The only explanations were given by the camp leaders or UNTAS (militia-linked political organisation). Many people do not understand what their decision means," Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in West Timor.
See also: BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news

BD: War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press releases, petitions, articles and news

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS): To accompany, To serve, To advocate

Timor alert 8-06-2001

An overwhelming majority of the East Timorese refugees in West Timor camps have indicated their desire to stay in Indonesia, according to results of a government-sponsored registration process on 6 and 7 June.

However, strong doubt has been voiced about the results of the registration largely because of militia intimidation and the lack of adequate explanation given the refugees about the outcome of their decision. The registration was held to determine the numbers of refugees in the camps and their intentions to stay in Indonesia or return to East Timor.

According to unofficial figures released by the Media Centre for the Registration of the Refugees on 8 June, 92,692 people said they want to stay, while only 1,453 refugees indicated that they wish to return to East Timor. A total of 165,782 refugees registered, however those who eligible to choose between return and resettlement numbered 94,692.

"Preparation for the registration was a failure. The limited time, the lack of non-partisan people to spell out the consequences of both choices to the refugees, the lack of information material, all contributed to this. The only explanations were given by the camp leaders or UNTAS (militia-linked political organisation). Many people do not understand what their decision means," said Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in West Timor.

The JRS team said it doubted the validity of the process as many people registered several times, in different places and under different names. "Doing this, they imagine they will receive more houses, lands and other assistance from the Government of Indonesia (GOI)," said team members, adding that some people claimed children of the local population were theirs, to inflate the number of members in their family.

"We feel the registration result does not reflect the numbers of people who really want to return to East Timor or to stay. It reflects the assistance the refugees think they will get from GOI and the local government because they chose to stay in Indonesia. Many people want both to be able to return and to receive Indonesian assistance before doing going back to East Timor," said the JRS team.

Many people who chose to stay in Indonesia are thinking they will stay on in the camps; they do not want to opt for transmigration. They imagine that since they chose to remain, they will keep receiving regular aid from the government and they will still be free to go to East Timor to cultivate their land. However, according to media reports, if they chose to stay, the plan is to gradually resettle them elsewhere in Indonesia. The registration participants will receive humanitarian aid while waiting for repatriation or resettlement.

Some refugees intend to return after the election result. Dedi Da Silva, a refugee in Tuapukan camp, said some refugees were still confused about return, because they were afraid of security conditions in East Timor. "The registration should be held after the election in East Timor," said Da Silva. "We chose to stay in Indonesia because we are traumatised after what happened last time."

JRS in East Timor and Tapol (Indonesian human rights campaign) expressed concern about the registration before it took place. On a visit to camps in Atambua, West Timor, conducted late in May, members of JRS East Timor found that there was little public understanding in the camps about the registration process. Meanwhile, the security situation in the camps remains precarious, and the pro-Indonesia militias continue to exert a strong influence in the camps.

JRS had called on the international community to highlight publicly the shortcomings of the "simplistic" survey rather than lend support to it. "Asking the simple question whether people 'wish to return to East Timor or whether they wish to settle permanently in Indonesia' will provide little guidance about people's real intentions," said JRS East Timor director, Frank Brennan SJ, in a letter to UNTAET administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

"It will be impossible to read any sense into the result of such a simplistic survey conducted with inadequate public education and security ... I would be sorry to see the UN or its agencies giving credit to such a registration simply on the basis that nothing else is achievable."

A registration to determine the number of people in the camps could become "dangerous and imprudent" as it was linked with registration of intent (to remain or return), unless anonymity was assured, Fr Brennan warned. "The international community should not be giving any endorsement to a registration process which proceeds in a closed environment where militia leaders and UNTAS enjoy a campaign monopoly without independent scrutiny," he said.

The registration was originally intended to take place on 6 June, however, it was extended by a day. There were 507 registration booths, and 1,600 people to register the refugees. Police and military personnel provided security, and no incidents were reported, except in one case where a booth was closed down after a dispute broke out when a man registered twice. According to BBC, only 12 international observers were present and people linked to the militias were present at the booths.


Spanish:
El Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados (JRS): Accompañar, Servir, Defender  Added Mar 24
El Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados es una organización católica internacional que trabaja en más de 40 países, con la misión de acompañar, servir y defender los derechos de los refugiados y desplazados forzosos. La misión confiada a JRS comprende a todos los que han sido apartados de sus hogares por los conflictos, los desastres humanitarios o las violaciones de los derechos humanos, de acuerdo con la enseñanza social católica que define como refugiado “de facto” a múltiples categorías de personas. La razón de ser de JRS está íntimamente liada a la misión de la Sociedad de Jesús (Jesuitas), a saber, el promocionar la justicia del Reino de Dios en diálogo con otras culturas y religiones.
International: CP 6139, 00195 Roma Prati, Italy. Tel: +39-06 689.77.391; Fax: +39-06 687.92.83; Email: international@jesref.org
Asia Pacific: Tel: +66 - 2 279 1817; Tel: +66 - 2 278 4182; Fax: +66 - 2 271 3632 Email: asia.pacific@jesref.org
Para pedir información sobre JRS, diríjase a la persona de contacto del Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados en su país de residencia. La oficina internacional de JRS también tiene un servicio de información. URL: http://www.jesref.org

English:
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS): To accompany, To serve, To advocate  Added Mar 24
The JRS is an international Catholic organisation, at work in over 40 countries, including East Timor and Indonesia, with a mission is to accompany, serve and defend the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced people. The mission given to JRS embraces all who are driven from their homes by conflict, humanitarian disaster or violation of human rights, following Catholic social teaching which applies the expression ‘de facto refugee’ to many related categories of people. The purpose of JRS is intimately connected with the mission of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), namely to promote the justice of God’s Kingdom, in dialogue with cultures and religions.
International: CP 6139, 00195 Roma Prati, Italy. Tel: +39-06 689.77.391; Fax: +39-06 687.92.83; Email: international@jesref.org
Asia Pacific: Tel: +66 - 2 279 1817; Tel: +66 - 2 278 4182; Fax: +66 - 2 271 3632 Email: asia.pacific@jesref.org
Contact JRS contact person in the country where you live. The JRS International office also provides an information service. Homepage: http://www.jesref.org  Timor alerts: http://www.jesref.org/inf/alert/tplatest.htm


See also:

BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news

BD: War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press releases, petitions, articles and news


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home    June news
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