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Police to question Timorese from Austrian Embassy

Reuters - March 26, 1997

Jakarta – The Indonesian military said on Wednesday 33 East Timorese youths now inside the Austrian embassy in Jakarta would be questioned once they left the mission, the official Antara news agency reported.

The agency quoted armed forces spokesman Brigadier-General Slamet Supriadi as saying the actions of the youths, who climbed over the embassy's fence, were improper.

"Those who have scaled the embassy fence will be questioned by police once they leave the mission's yard," Supriadi said. Antara gave no further details and Supriadi was not available for further comment.

The youths entered the embassy compound on Tuesday afternoon and demanded to meet Jamsheed Marker, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy on East Timor who is in Jakarta as a part of a familiarisation trip to Indonesia and East Timor.

Only hours after the break-in, three of the youths were taken to meet Marker at United Nations offices in Jakarta.

Eleonora Windisch, first secretary at the Austrian embassy, said on Wednesday negotiations were still going on and there was a possibility the youths would stay for another night.

"Negotiation is still underway but we think they may stay for another night," she told Reuters. She gave no details. About 40 youths staged a counter-protest outside the embassy on Wednesday, denouncing the youths inside, witnesses said.

They said the demonstration was watched by about 20 uniformed police who allowed the youths, apparently mostly East Timorese, to hang banners on the embassy fence despite protests by an embassy official.

Hours later, about 20 students staged a demonstration in support of East Timor's integration with Indonesia in front of the U.N. representative office in Jakarta and presented a statement to Marker denouncing the break-in at the Austrian embassy.

"If we want to ask for a dialogue, we should ask for it in a civilised way," student spokesman Octavio Soares said.

Marker said after a meeting with Indonesia's official National Commission on Human Rights that he had met the youths. "I took their representation which I will give to the secretary-general," he told reporters.

Mariano Sabino Lopez, a spokesman for the 33 Timorese, said on Tuesday: "We told him of our aspirations. We do not mean to create hostility against the Indonesian government but (want) a way to open more dialogue on East Timor."

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday criticised the youths' action.

Since September 1995, 108 East Timorese have entered foreign embassies in Jakarta and asked for political asylum, always granted by Portugal.