Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, September 29, 1999 Published at 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Indonesia denies 'concentration camps'

Refugees fetch water from a barrel at Atambua camp

Human rights organisations and East Timorese leaders have accused the Indonesian authorities of mistreating refugees from East Timor.

East Timor
Amnesty International has said that food was being denied to people wanting to return to East Timor from the Stadium Gor refugee camp in Kupang, the regional capital of West Timor.

The man expected to be East Timor's new president, Xanana Gusmao, appealed to the international community to safeguard the return of about 200,000 people he said were being held in West Timor.

Gillian Flies of the Carter Centre: "Camps are under the control of the pro-Jakarta militia"
But Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas strongly defended his government's treatment of the refugees.

He said West Timor was "not the Wild West" and that there were "practically no security problems" in the camps.

Indonesia has rejected a UN resolution calling for a commission to probe human rights abuses in East Timor before and after the territory voted for independence last month.

Justice Minister Muladi said Jakarta would set up its own court instead.

Click here to see a map of Indonesia's provinces

Indonesia has now handed responsibility for the day-to-day running of East Timor to the United Nations.

[ image:  ]
But it will not formally relinquish control of East Timor until parliament in Jakarta ratifies the territory's vote for independence.

Hungry East Timorese have looted a food warehouse in the regional capital, Dili, underlining the need for more aid to be distributed.

Refugees who have been hiding in the hills have started to return to the city in large numbers.

The UN World Food Programme estimates that 80% of East Timor's population - about 740,000 people - will soon be in need of food aid.

No access

[ image: There are allegations of food being denied to any refugees who want to return to East Timor]
There are allegations of food being denied to any refugees who want to return to East Timor
Journalists have found it hard to gain access to camps in West Timor, but a report by the US Carter Centre says that refugees in West Timor camps have virtually no access to sanitation, fresh water or food.

Mr Alatas said reports of serious security problems in West Timor were exaggerated: "It is as if certain governments now find it's time now to bash Indonesia on the head on another subject, which is West Timor."

Mr Alatas said his government had agreed to let the the UN refugee agency and the International Committee of the Red Cross visit West Timor.

He said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees would ascertain if the East Timorese wanted to return home, stay in West Timor or move elsewhere in the Indonesian archipelago.

Jose Ramos-Horta: "We are prepared to work in a full partnership with the UN"
US Defence Secretary William Cohen, who is in Jakarta for talks with top Indonesian officials, said Indonesia had to allow them home, or face economic and political repercussions.

"The message I will deliver is that the Indonesian government has an obligation to see to it that these people who are displaced now in West Timor are allowed to go back to their homes in East Timor," he said.

Food pressure

Amnesty International said international access to camps in West Timor was now an urgent priority.

"These reports only serve to highlight the urgent need for protection for East Timorese people displaced to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia, including access by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organisations," Amnesty said in a statement.

The BBC's Yvette Austin: "In a way the refugees were the lucky ones"
The Carter Centre said its observers had found refugees faced intimidation in East and West Timor, Java, Bali, Irian Jaya, Flores and Alor and were also being held in militia-controlled camps in Sumatra and Sulawesi.

Amnesty and The Carter Centre reported refugees in West Timor camps were being recruited into the militias, although it was unclear what methods were being used.

Amnesty also said six men had been taken at gunpoint by militia from a camp at Nenuk, near Atambua on the West Timor border, on Monday and have not been seen since.

Other top stories

[ image:  ]

Click here to return

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

29 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Timor aid effort expands

29 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
US boosts Timor force

29 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's special forces

28 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Asia's angst over Timor intervention

28 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Destruction on the way to Baucau

27 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Timor refugees return to shattered land

26 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Peacekeepers fan out from Dili

25 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Rift over Timor peace mission

25 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Power struggle in Indonesia

24 Sep 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Eyewitness: The new militia bases

08 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Refugees flood into West Timor

Internet Links

Indonesian Government


Australian Department of Defence - Peacekeeping in East Timor

Amnesty International - East Timor

The Carter Centre

East Timor Action Network

BBC Indonesian Service

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Indonesia rules out Aceh independence

DiCaprio film trial begins

Millennium sect heads for the hills

Uzbekistan voices security concerns

From Business
Chinese imports boost US trade gap

ICRC visits twelve Burmese jails

Falintil guerillas challenge East Timor peackeepers

Malaysian candidates named

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Holbrooke to arrive in Indonesia

China warns US over Falun Gong

Thais hand back Cambodian antiques