Thu, 03 Jul 2003

East Timorese refuse to return home

MAKASSAR: Hundreds of East Timorese refugees staged a rally in Makassar on Wednesday to oppose the local administration's move to return them to East Timor.

The protesters, mostly students who stayed in the city due to the sponsorship of the Al Anshar Foundation, said that they opposed the move because they have a right to stay in Indonesia.

"The students want to stay in South Sulawesi as Indonesian citizens. It is too bad that the government wants to drive them out," foundation chairman Abdul Rahman said.

Many of the East Timorese were still children when they were first sponsored by the foundation following bloody rioting in East Timor in 1999.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in cooperation with the government has carried out a program to return East Timorese children who left East Timor following the riots. --JP