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Call on the Minister to help East Timor refugees

Indonesia Human Rights Committee,
Box 68-419,
30 March, 2000

Media Release:

Call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to help protect East Timorese refugees in West Timor.

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee which will hold its inaugural seminar this weekend, has faxed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff to urge him to take up the cause of the East Timorese refugees still trapped in refugee camps across the border in West Timor.

“These people have effectively been held hostage by the Indonesian military and militia since they were forced out of their homeland some 8 months ago. Now they are being threatened with a cut-off of essential food by the Indonesian government from the 31 March. If they stay they are expected to accept ‘resettlement’ in some other part of Indonesia even further away from home.”

“ Over and over again the UN and other refugee agencies have said that the people do not feel safe to leave because of the ongoing militia intimidation in the camps. Repeatedly the agencies have had to run the gauntlet - dashing into camps to rescue returnees before the militia become aware of the their presence.”

“It defies belief that Indonesia is still perpetrating violence against East Timorese people - all this time after it responded the world’s outrage and agreed to let East Timor go.”

“The other aid agencies do not have the resources to fill the gap that will be left if Indonesia is allowed to withdraw the essential food and water supplies. A cut-off in aid would sign the death warrant of yet more East Timorese. At least 500 have already died from infections in the crowded camps.”

“We believe that Phil Goff is already aware of this situation and are hopeful that he will initiate strong protest action as the deadline date for aid cut-off looms.”

Reminder: Towards Democracy in Indonesia Seminar :Key note address Dr George Aditjondro on the Suharto assets Meeting: 7-30 p.m. Friday 31 March Ellen Melville Hall (Pioneer Womens’ Hall) High St Auckland opposite Metropolis

Seminar 9 a.m. Saturday 1 April : Conference Centre University of Auckland 22 Symonds St. Media conference at 4 p.m.

for further information: Maire Leadbeater - 09-376-9098 or cell phone 025-436-957

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