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East Timor: forced removal of East Timorese.

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News Release

Laurie Brereton, MP

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs


14 September 1999





The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurie Breteton, today drew attention to reports of a premeditated poli cy by Indonesian authorities to remove thousands of East Timorese to camps in West Timor.


“Today’s edition of The Independent newspaper reports that officials in West Timor were ordered to establish camps to accommodate tens of thousands of East Timorese ‘refugees’ well before the 30 August ballot”, Mr Breteton said.


“These preparations provide further evidence of Indonesian military’s plans to orchestrate wide-spread atrocities and force the relocation of a major portion of the population of East Timor.”


“There is also clear evidence of a large-scale air and maritime effort by the TNI to transport East Timorese from their homeland.”


“The fate of thousands of East Timorese held in these militia-controlled concentration camps is now a matter of the gravest concern.”


“The Australian Government must demand that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees together with appropriate non-government humanitarian organisations be given immediate and unconditional access to the East Timorese removed to West Timor and allowed to organise their return under the protection of UN peacekeepers.”


A copy of The Independent report is attached.


Contact: Philip Dorling 0416 203 058


The Independent [London]

September 14, 1999




By Humphrey Hawksley, a BBC world affairs correspondent


FRESH EVIDENCE is emerging of a premeditated policy by Indonesia to empty East Timor of much of its population.


Officials in neighbouring West Timor say they were ordered to set up camps to handle tens of thousands of people - before the independence referendum took place. Since Saturday, more than 24,000 people have left East Timor and registered with the West Timorese government. Many more, who believe they are on militia hit-lists, have left or are in hiding.


The refugee co-ordination centre in Kupang said it had been told to prepare for a massive influx on 26 August, four days before the ballot. An official said the government was not so much running a refugee crisis as handling a transmigration programme. The official said thousands who had left would never go back to East Timor and were being found homes and jobs elsewhere.


In further evidence that the exodus is being run by the Indonesian government, officials said specific areas were being selected for evacuation and people were being advised to “pack up and get out”.


The latest arrivals are mostly from the west of the territory. With them come the militia, who were given control of the camps and are making a show of force; armed militiamen are common in Kupang. Foreigners have no access to the camps and hundreds of refugees who back independence are trying to escape to Bali.



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