Refugees At Risk
6 October 1999
AI INDEX: ASA 21/180/99
Amnesty International continues to be seriously concerned about the tens of thousands of East
Timorese refugees in Indonesia. Pro-integration militias continue to be active in West Timor,
including in camps where they have been responsible for “disappearances” and have prevented
access to humanitarian aid. Elsewhere in Indonesia, East Timorese have been threatened and
in some cases attacked. Their movements have been restricted through fear of such attacks and
reports of checks at air and sea ports. This document updates Amnesty International’s report
issued on 24 September 1999: East Timor, the Terror Continues (AI Index: ASA 21/163/99)
According to some estimates there are over 200,000 refugees in West Timor alone.
Their condition is said to be deteriorating as militia activity continues to prevent humanitarian
organizations from delivering food, medical and other essential supplies to the camps. In the
meantime, reports continue to be received from West Timor, Java, Sumatra, Bali, Flores and
Sulawesi of human rights violations against the East Timorese refugees including unlawful
killings, threats, harassment and intimidation.
Assurances were given on 30 September 1999 by the Head of the Indonesian Armed
Forces, General Wiranto, to the United States Defence Secretary, William Cohen, that Indonesia
would assist refugees to return to East Timor.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is
expected to conclude a memorandum of understanding with the Indonesian authorities shortly,
covering its role in relation to refugees. Further, the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs has announced that flights returning some refugees from West Timor to
East Timor, under UNHCR auspices, will commence this week.
While Amnesty International welcomes all efforts towards ensuring that East Timorese
are able to travel to a place of safety, the organization is concerned