7. WEST TIMOR
The Government organized a one-day registration of East Timorese refugees in West Timor on 6 June to obtain data about the refugees and find out whether they want to repatriate or settle in Indonesia. A total of 507 registration posts were set up and some 4,500 military and police personnel were deployed to safeguard the registration. Twelve international observers monitored the process. In some places the registration had to be extended for another day, or even a third, as the turnout was higher than foreseen. The process ran smoothly. Even though the final official count will only be ready on 20 June, preliminary figures indicate that an overwhelming majority of refugees have opted to stay in refugee camps instead of returning. As of Friday 8 June at 4pm, official figures showed that 94,962 heads of household had registered (representing some 165,000 refugees) and that 92,476 of them had opted to remain in Indonesia. While 4,269 families had been reported as wanting to return to East Timor on Thursday, this figure went down to 1,453 on Friday. This change was explained as resulting from a communication problem between Belu district and Kupang when reporting results.
UNTAET, UNHCR and the CNRT have just completed a two-month community-by-community survey in East Timor, which indicates that 84,707 persons are missing.
AFP reported Nobel Peace laureate Jose
Ramos-Horta as saying that the registration was a “sham,” and that the
refugees were too afraid of armed pro-Indonesian gangs to say they want
to go home.
Investigations conducted by the UN peacekeeping force, the UN Civilian Police and the Indonesian military have revealed that the market site where a grenade attack killed five people along the West Timor/East Timor border on 29 May is a traditional trading point located south of Balibo. The incident was the result of a private dispute between a militia member and a gambling ring organizer operating at the market. The militia member conducted a revenge attack with hand grenades the next day. Most of the casualties were bystanders who were not involved in the gambling.
8 RA: Horta calls registration a farce News added June
"Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta says an Indonesian poll this week to determine whether thousands of East Timorese refugees in West Timor want to return to home, is a “sham”. Mr Ramos-Horta says the refugees are too afraid of being kidnapped, murdered and raped by pro-Indonesian gangs to say they want to go home." Radio Australia
8 UMNS: Refugees in West Timor face critical conditions
News added June 10
"Rondo [Centre for Internally Displaced People’s Services in WTimor] believes churches can make a difference in the crisis by advocating for action. He and the East Timor Action Network, which sponsored his U.S. speaking tour, are calling for:
· Pressure from the U.S. and international community on the Indonesian government to disarm and disband the militias.
· Support for an international tribunal on crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.
· Creation of a credible refugee registration process with significant international participation and oversight.
· Adoption of a complete ban on weapons sales, training and support for the Indonesian military by the United States until these issues have been resolved." United Methodist News Service
8 JRS: Timor alert Alert added June 9
"Preparation for the registration [of refugees in WTimor] 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.
7 SMH: Fears over returning East Timor refugees News added
"Their presence in the camps would be terrifying. They have been trying to keep the refugees in the camps as one of their main political objectives. ... If, after the census, those who want to come back are not provided with the means, they will be more vulnerable than ever and exposed to those who have power in the camps, the militias." Mr Joaquim Fonseca, East Timorese human rights foundation Yayasan-Hak
7 ETAN and CIS urge UN to reject sham refugee registration in West Timor
Petition added Jun 8
"the refugee registration process conducted by Indonesia this week must be soundly rejected. The United Nations and the international community have accepted Indonesia’s hollow promises and dangerous charades too many times and left the East Timorese people to bear the bloody consequences. This time, they must do better." ETAN & CIS [the Centre for Internally Displaced Peoples Service in West Timor]
BD: 'Refugees' & Missing Persons - A collection of recent information, reports, articles and news