BACK DOOR Newsletter on East
See also these important reports:
Jan 20 ETO: Refugees: How many? How many want
to return to East Timor?
Portuguese: Jan 20 OTL: Refugiados: Quantos
são? Quantos querem voltar para Timor Leste?
Below are translated summaries of articles from Indonesian newspapers.
For a more complete translation of any of the following articles, please
send your request to Eliot Hoffman,
East Timor Action Network/US, who will forward it to the translator.
Please include the name of the newspaper/s, date/s, and article title/s.
English language newspapers available online:
NTT X – NTT Ekspres
PK – Pos Kupang
ST – Surya Timor
RT – Radar Timor
Edited by Eliot Hoffman,
Timor Action Network/US
Tuesday, 6 February 2001
Several news items related to Refugees
PK – “International NGOs needn’t hesitate”
KUPANG – Col. Budi Heriyanto, Commander of 161 Wirasakti Resort, Kupang,
said that international and local NGOs that will soon resume activities
in W. Timor don’t need to be hesitant about the security situation.
He says that in Atambua stores are open until 7:30 p.m. or later and the
market is also busy until evening just as it was before the exodus of E.
Timorese to W. Timor. He hopes NGOs will respect and obey Indonesian
laws. Security guarantees were also given earlier by NTT Chief of
Police, Brig. Gen. Jacky Uly, saying he hoped the current conducive situation
could be maintained so that NGOs can work peacefully.
Answering a question about extortion at the border as Dir. Gen.
Of the NTT Trade and Industry Board, Heriyanto said that the Indo. govt.
has prohibited cross-border trade by land. The only trade allowed
is import-export trade by sea from Surabaya or Makasar straight to Dili
with the proper documents. He said if there was such trade across
the land border it means there are individuals engaged in smuggling.
PK – “Save the Children helps refugees”
KUPANG – Save the Children has begun work in Kupang regency to help refugee
children. Their program, which will focus on health care and education
for refugee children, is to begin next week. Sonny Said of the Kupang
Regency Office for National Unity, said there are as many as 49,962 refugees
in Kupang Regency. Save the Children is one of six agencies ready
to resume activities in NTT.
RT – “Hundreds of E. Timor refugees ‘attack’ the TTS House of Reps.: Struggle
for assets valued at 1 trillion rupiah”
SOE – Further to the news reported in yesterday’s translation in which
only about 30 refugees were reported to have staged a sit-in, this article
claims there were hundreds and that security at the TTS House of Reps.
building was very tight. The refugees estimate their assets left
in E. Timor total more than 1 trillion rupiah. They met with Vice
Speaker of the TTS House, Thobias Selan, who, when speaking with reporters,
said he regretted their action because it had been agreed earlier that
they would indicate proof so that the House could struggle on their behalf,
but the refugees have no proof of what they left in E.Timor. He also
said they have complained about food aid (rice and money for food supplements)
but that the House cannot help them as long as their data isn’t accurate.
Another TTS official, Ruben Izaac, said that the TTS govt. can only pass
on the aspirations of the refugees to the central govt., no more than that.
RT – “Tens of armed personnel sit in at Regent’s Office: Because deceived
by rumor of refugee demo”
KUPANG – The Kupang Regent’s office on Mon. (5/2) was pretty exciting.
Tens of armed police suddenly “attacked” the office causing a lot of workers
to leave the building. Their arrival was triggered by a rumor that
there was to be a huge demonstration by refugees from three camps in Kupang.
Not only were civilians surprised by the sudden arrival of the police,
but also the police who guard the office every day were also surprised
as they had been given no prior notice. On of the regular police
guards expressed gratitude that the police were moving to anticipate unwanted
actions. One of the police who arrived at the building said they
had received a report that there was to be a huge demonstration but did
not know what the demonstration was to be about. After waiting for some
time only about 10 coordinators from refugee camps in Noelbaki, Tuapukan,
and several other locations showed up and didn’t disturb the peace at all.
They came to get clarification regarding information that their aid is
to be terminated.
ST – “Refugees request rice aid”
KUPANG – Refugees in the Tuapukan and Noelbaki camps have asked the Kupang
regency govt. that rice aid be distributed to them immediately. “The refugees
are now hungry so please give us rice aid so we can keep living,” said
Refugee General Coordinator from Lospalos, Cornelio Ribeiro on Monday (5/2).
The six who came to speak to the Regent said according to information they’d
received in Dec. 2000 refugees received 6 kg. [each] of rice, but had not
yet received the new budget amounts. That have also heard the aid is being
held up because of discrepancy in data regarding the total number of refugees.
Ribeiro says there are 51,818 refugees while the central govt. counts only
30,000. He questions where this figure comes from. He also
denies that the refugees have received money for food supplements for January
as claimed by a regency official. Ribeiro said the refugees only
received such money on 7 Dec. 2000 and that this was leftover funds from
the 2000 budget. He promised that if they failed to meet with the
Regent again they would come again on Wed. morning.
Ribeiro also said that refugees in Kupang Regency are ready to
accept international NGO workers as well as UN humanitarian agencies like
UNHCR, saying they would guarantee their security. He only warned
that the giving of aid not be accompanied by other interests as in the
past. “Let it not be like it was before when there were certain intentions
slipped in behind humanitarian actions, we don’t want that,” he said adding
the refugees are ready for the agencies to return since they have been
As reported in Surya Timor yesterday, beginning on 5 Feb. 2001,
a number of international NGOs and UN agencies like UNHCR will carry out
humanitarian aid to E. Timor refugees in W. Timor, especially Kupang, after
socialization to the refugees was carried out by Kupang regency officials.
RT – “Hundreds of former E. Timor teachers ‘unemployed’”
ATAMBUA – It is estimated that around 300 grade school teachers originating
from E. Timor who have been in refuge in Belu since the beginning of Sept.
1999 are not yet teaching. This is because a lot of E. Timorese teachers
experience difficulties in accomodating themselves to the new work environment
and their knowledge is not up to par with that of teachers in W. Timor.
Head of the Belu Catholic School Foundation, Epy Nahak, said that many
of these teachers often used Tetun in their teaching so that when they
arrived in W. Timor they had a little trouble using Indonesian to teach.
Those who aren’t teaching have been seconded to this foundation, but Nahak
said they are hard to track down since many of them are in refugee tents
without an address. A lot of them also aren’t getting their salaries from
Nahak’s office which is holding 700 tons of rice and tens of millions of
rupiah for the E. Timor teachers. He said he was going to immediately
return the salary funds to the national treasury since it is state money.
Also, the salaries of some who have returned to Timor Lorosae are still
being sent by the govt. Others have returned but come back to Belu
simply to pick up their salaries. Nahak suggests that the govt. build
a special school for E. Timorese children so that the E. Timor teachers
won’t have communication problems. Many E. Timor children who mix
with local children in school drop out because they must help their parents
in their emergency tents. Nahak said that prior to the 6 Sept. 2000
incident, many grade school teachers from E. Timor actively taught in various
tend schools built by the UN that served hundreds of refugee children.
These schools no longer exist and the children have been integrated into
formal schools in Belu.. Thus a lot of E. Timor teachers are now
unemployed. He hopes the govt. will quickly find a way for these
teachers to become active and to regulate their salaries that for months
have been sent to the Belu regency even though the teachers have gone home
to Timor Lorosae.
RT – “Mass media must be fair in its reporting of Timor Leste”
ATAMBUA – Head of Belu Untas, Agustinho Pinto, said that refugees really
support the journalism visit by a number of Indonesian reporters to Timor
Leste as long as their coverage is fair. The visit which began yesterday
is to extend until 10 Feb. Pinto also hopes the reporters will interview
all segments of society – political elite, religious and social leaders,
youth, leaders of the Timor Leste Defence Force, and people at the grass
roots to know their attitudes about complete reconciliation for the E.
Timorese. If the people in Timor Leste want reconciliation, what
sort of reconciliation do they want and where is the safest place to carry
it out? He hopes the news they cover will be in Indonesian and Tetun
and distributed via radio, newspapers, and television, particularly TVRI
since most refugees are in TTU and Belu where the only channel available
is TVRI. The team consisting of 17 reporters, 2 PMP Task Force members
and 3 members of W. Timor Concern Foundation entered Timor Leste via the
NTT X – “When E. Timorese understand reconciliation”
The discourse about reconciliation for the people of E. Timor will still
be actual as long as there are E. Timorese in refuge and complete reconciliation
has not been realized. Moderator of the Protestant Christian Church
in E. Timor, Rev.. Fransisco Vas Concelos, thinks the most important thing
about the reconciliation discourse is peace among the people at the grass
roots who have been victims of the political game of E. Timor political
elite. “It isn’t enough to just talk about reconciliation with words.
For some time now there has been a lot of discussion about that and contribution
of ideas for a path to reconciliation, but how and from where do we begin
to move?” The grass roots people Francisco is talking about are those
who farm and fish, manual laborers, small traders in the interior, and
those of the informal sector in the city who have been the objects of decisions
made by the political elite. He thinks the best effort at reconciliation
is if it is begun at the grass roots as social reconciliation.
This reconciliation differs from that implemented by the political elite
that always begins with political negotiating, like if they return to E.Timor
what position will they have in the government of the new country.
Social reconciliation is far more important than talking about political
reconciliation with a central theme – if one still accepts autonomy or
does one acknowledge the referendum results that leads to fighting and
divisions of power in government seats. According to Fransisco, whether
one accepts autonomy or not is history for the people of E. Timor.
Now the question is how to develop reconciliation among the people of Timor
Lorosae to create a civil society that is democratic, peaceful, and prosperous.
This is a long process that will require patience from all sides.
Therefore, the refugees also need a long time to return to the land of
their birth. “If there is mutual acceptance to live as one and as
brothers in a village, then that’s where reconciliation is realized,” he
E. Timor social leader, Paulo de Fatima Martins said the people understand
reconciliation to mean mutual realization of one new nation and a desire
to live peacefully. To refugees he says there is no person in the
world who is free of sin and mistakes, both those in refuge as well as
those who have returned to E. Timor – all have weaknesses and past sins.
The important thing is that in their hearts, each E. Timorese always whispers
for peace and has a desire to improve life in the future. This is
what is means by moral humanity. He thinks the most appropriate path
to complete reconciliation has begun with the common folk and that the
political elite should learn from them.
Maria Fernades Pinto said she was in refuge in Atambua from 7 Sept 1999
until April 2000. When she returned to her family in Manatuto she
was received well; they were all happy to know that she was still alive.
She said that as long as she was in NTT she always heard various kinds
of information about E. Timor loaded with political intent that made refugees
afraid to go home. Since returning to her area, she has written to
family members still in refuge to tell them to return because the rice
fields and gardens left in 1999 are now overgrown.
Head of the PMP Task Force, Basyiruddin Yusuf, said that it is far better
for the refugees to go home to Timor Lorosae so they can live in peace
and mutual forgiveness.
ST – “Taur Matan Ruak Chief of Timor Leste Armed Forces, Taveres Chief
of W. Timor Armed Forces”
KEFAMENANU – After Taur Matan Ruak was appointed as Chief of Armed Forces
in Timor Leste, the next round was when former PPI Commander was installed
by former Sakunar militia members as Armed Forces Chief in W. Timor territory.
Simao Lopes, Former Sukanar Battalion Commander and a former social
leader in Ambeno, stressed, “If Matan Ruak is Chief there then Joao Taveres
is installed as Chief for the refugees.” With this suggestion, Matan
Ruak must be ready to face Taveres’ forces. He explained further
that the refugees have rights to the land of their ancestors so that they
also need to form a military. He questions why Falentil, that is
clearly the armed wing of CNRT can be formed into a military body while
pro-integrationists who are also Indonesian citizens don’t form a military
body. “It’s funny that Tavares’ power should disappear so easily,
just like that, and then changed with Matan Ruak.” He said that Tavares
is still hard to defeat if facing pro-independence supporters. Slowly but
surely, the pro-integrationists will prove their determination. Concerning
hr in Timor Leste, Lopes said that the body has existed since 1948 so that
HR abuses in 1975 should be tried, not only more recent abuses. Pro-independence
supporters who yell to remain independent doesn’t mean the problem is finished.
Their dream is not yet final and victims are still floating. Lopes
is convinced this case will widen in time. As for refugees in W.
Timor, Lopes said this is the responsibility of 24 years of goodness by
the Indo. govt. during integration. “We sought refuge just because
we wanted to proved we were loyal to Indonesia.” He said Untas is
committed that Red White must return to Timor Leste. Go ahead, they
may have independence, but UNTAS will continue to wave its banner.
Efforts at reconciliation may go ahead, but it doesn’t mean the UNTAS struggle
Edited by Eliot
Hoffman, East Timor Action Network/US
See also these important reports:
Jan 20 ETO: Refugees: How many?
How many want to return to East Timor?
"Political and financial interests are getting in the way of a credible
census of the refugees. While the Indonesian authorities agreed to the
presence of international humanitarian agencies in order to receive their
aid, Jakarta has done little to disband the militia gangs that still control
the refugees and repatriation, and collaborate closely with Indonesian
soldiers, sharing with them the rights of passage demanded from those wishing
to return to East Timor." ETO
Jan 20 OTL: Refugiados: Quantos
são? Quantos querem voltar para Timor Leste?
"Interesses políticos e económicos impedem uma contagem
credível dos refugiados. As autoridades indonésias aceitaram
a presença das agências humanitárias internacionais
para receber as ajudas, mas pouco fizeram para o desmantelamento das milícias,
que continuam a controlar os refugiados e os regressos, em estreita colaboração
com militares indonésios e partilhando com eles os direitos de passagem
exigidos aos que querem voltar para Timor Leste." OTL
BACK DOOR Newsletter on East