Fri, 23 May 2003

East Timorese want compensation

KENDARI, Southeast Sulawesi: Some 80 East Timorese held a rally outside the provincial council on Thursday to seek compensation for the assets they lost when they fled the violence that followed East Timor's separation from Indonesia in 1999.

Protesting under the East Timor Post Referendum Refugee Solidarity Forum, they said they needed money to start a business as otherwise they could not earn a living.

According to the forum's spokesman Arsid Musa the Indonesian government and East Timor agreed to compensate all East Timorese who had left their homeland. "Now we want that agreement to be fulfilled," he said.

An estimated 15,000 East Timorese live in Southeast Sulawesi, mainly in the Buton regency. Their abandoned assets, which include land, house and business properties, are worth Rp 15 billion (about US$1.7 million) according to their estimates.

Another forum claiming to represent East Timorese throughout Indonesia has recently demanded the government pay Rp 2.3 trillion in compensation, and provide free education and housing. -- Antara