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Calls for Indonesia to take action to locate Timor's missing people

Dili Weekly - June 20, 2016

Venidora Oliveira – There are calls for the Indonesian government to take serious action to locate thousands of Timorese people that went missing between 1975 and 1999.

National MP Arao Noe de Jesus Amaral said to date the Indonesian government had made no commitment to work with Timor-Leste to find out what happened to the missing Timorese people at that time.

Amaral said it was not about bringing up the past incidents, but about reuniting people with their families in Timor. The children were removed from their families during the occupation to work for the Indonesian military as cleaners and cooks.

Many of those taken remained in Indonesia after Timor-Leste gained independence and have since lost contact with their families due to the long period of separation. Data from the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) shows that 4,000 people went missing at the time and many have still not been found.

"This year we have allocated $100,000 to the Human Rights and Justice Ombudsmen to help find the missing people," he said.

In response to the issue, the Deputy head of Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), Dianto Bachariadi, said attempts to discuss the matter with the government had so far failed.

However, he said Komnas HAM would continue to press the Indonesian government to work with the Commission and take serious action to locate the missing people.

He also called on the Indonesian government to establish a special commission to find out what happened to the missing people as was mentioned in the recommendations made by CAVR.

Without a special commission, Bachariadi said the responsibility of finding Timor's missing now largely rested with organizations such as Komnas HAM and Timor-Leste's national human rights institution (PDHJ).

He further called on CAVR to involve Komnas HAM in senior meetings on the matter in order to facilitate the Commission's efforts to locate the missing people.

Meanwhile, Timor's Human Rights and Justice Ombudsman Silverio Pinto said organizations such as PDHJ and Komnas HAM continued to work hard to try and bring closure for families.

He said some progress had been made, with 15 people returning to Timor to see their families in 2015 and another 12 this year. "It is difficult, but we have tried to bring some of them to see their families [in Timor]," he said.

Source: http://www.thediliweekly.com/en/news/news/13836-calls-for-indonesia-to-take-action-to-locate-timor-s-missing-people