INDONESIA HUMAN RIGHTS
TIMOR LOROSAE SUPPORT
24 September, 2001.
EAST TIMORESE CHILDREN HELD IN INDONESIA
Considerable international pressure will be needed to reunite hundreds of East Timorese children, held in Indonesia, with their parents.
Please write in the first instance to His Excellency Susanto Sutoyo, Ambassador for the Republic of Indonesia, P.O. Box 3543, Wellington [New Zealand]. [or to Indonesian Embassy in Australia] Further letters (or copies) should be sent to our Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff, to ask for further pressure on the Indonesian Government to resolve this issue. (No stamp needed)
The facts are as follows:
In the aftermath of the violence in East Timor in 1999, hundreds of children were separated from their parents. It is feared that many have been forced to work in Indonesian sweatshops and plantations or as prostitutes. Australian journalists have been following the fate of 130 children, who were taken from refugee camps in West Timor to primitive orphanages in Java.
Dr. Octavio Soares, an Indonesian-educated doctor and nephew of former governor of East Timor, Abilio Soares, claims to have permission of their parents with the promise of taking the children away from violence to have them properly educated. Even as late as June this year 46 children between six and 12 were separated from their parents in W.Timorese refugee camps and escorted to a privately owned dormitory in the hills above Yogyakarta in central Java.
Dr. Soares heads the Hati Foundation, set up in the early 1990s to support those Timorese who work for the integration of East Timor with Indonesia. Even now Dr. Soares insists that East Timor will again become a part of the Republic of Indonesia. Human Rights workers suspect that the children are indoctrinated to become possible future infiltrators into East Timor.
Attempts by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to reunite children with parents who want them back has met with refusals and threats of violence. Until recently the Indonesian Government ignored any pleas for help. However, due to intense international pressure Dr. Soares was forced to cooperate and release some children. Eight children have just been reunited with their parents. All appear to be highly traumatised and confused.
It would appear that Dr. Soares is making a superficial gesture to satisfy international concerns, a tactic we remember well from the years of Indonesian occupation of East Timor.
East Timorese leaders are asking the international community to put pressure on Indonesia to resolve this case. Cabinet member for foreign affairs, Mr. Jose Ramos Horta, has described Indonesia’s handling of the children’s plight as shocking and outrageous and has promised to raise the case in the United Nations Security Council which he is to address in October. Mr. Xanana Gusmao has raised the issue with President Megawati Sukarnoputri two weeks ago.
So: please write!
For further information contact:
- IHRC, P.O. Box 68419,
Newton, Auckland. Ph/fax 09 376 9098, e-mail: email@example.com
- TLS, 21 Ngauruhoe St., Mt. Eden. Ph/fax 630 3610, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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