02 August 2012

Clash Erupts Between Indonesians, East Timorese in Neutral Zone

East Timor Legal News 02 August 2012 Source: Jakarta Globe August 01, 2012 - Indonesian and East Timorese civilians are guarding a neutral buffer zone between both countries a day after a land conflict sparked a clash there, a local official said on Wednesday.

The clash erupted on Tuesday evening after a group of East Timorese residents tried to clear land for an immigration office they wanted to build in the zone, Indonesian news portal Tempo.co reported.

The zone, which belongs to neither country, is an area bordering East Nusa Tenggara that is several meters wide and supposed to be free from buildings.

A group of Indonesian residents from nearby Haumeni Ana village in Northern Central Timor district, East Nusa Tenggara, resisted the land clearing, and both groups started throwing stones at each other, Tempo reported.

No one was injured but an East Timor security post was damaged, the news portal added.

Lodovikus Lake, head of Bikomi Nilulat subdistrict, which includes Haumeni Ana, said the East Timorese had violated the zone by insisting on building the immigration office, even though the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) had earlier told them to stop.

“They keep doing activities in the free zone, upsetting the [Haumeni Ana] residents, who then tried to send them away,” Lodovikus said in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Wednesday.

He added that the situation was returning to normal on Wednesday but residents of both countries were still standing guard around the zone.
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UCANews Ethnic leaders called to ease border clash Investigator seeks peaceful end to villagers' disputes Albertus V. Rehi, Kupang Indonesia August 15, 2012 - The latest in a series of border clashes between Indonesian and Timor Leste villagers has underlined the need for input from ethnic and local community leaders.

“They play a crucial role and must be involved in settling these disputes,” said Thimotius Susetyo, head of the official team that investigated the incident.

“This will be one of our recommendations to central government in finding a solution to this issue. Other recommendations will include efforts to build infrastructure, economy, health and education facilities in border areas.”

The latest violence, between Indonesian villagers from North Central Timor and East Timorese from Pasabe-Oecusse, erupted over a disagreement on the location of a new customs office in the neutral zone.

Villagers from both sides hurled stones at each other, but there were no reports of serious casualties.

Susetyo identified three potential flashpoints where Indonesian and Timor Leste settlements are in close proximity in disputed areas along the border. He expressed the hope that conflicts can be resolved locally, with the full involvement of ethnic and community leaders, before being passed on for discussion at the national level.

“The discussions between both countries will be under the coordination of [Indonesian] Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa,” he said. “We hope the border disputes can be settled peacefully, as these villagers have family and cultural ties.”

Raymudus Sau Fernandez, head of Timor’s North Central district, called on both governments to respect an existing agreement that “no activity is allowed in the neutral zone, whether by Indonesians or East Timorese,” in order to avoid further clashes.

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