15 July 2009

Indonesia to give Timor-Leste a number of privileges

Erwida Maulia The Jakarta Post 15 July 2009 8:57 AM - Indonesia has agreed to provide Timor Leste with a number of privileges in line with recommendations made by the final report of the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF).

The privileges include the extension of permits for East Timorese students in Indonesia, and payment of retirement fees to former Indonesian civil servants who are now Timor Leste citizens.

The permits for 5,000 East Timorese students currently studying in Indonesian universities, such as in Makassar and Yogyakarta, will be extended from six months to two years.

“The final report included a joint statement from the two country leaders, it has become a bilateral agreement that needs to be implemented,” Wiwiek S. Firman, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s director for human rights and humanity, told a media briefing Tuesday.

“That is why the Timor Leste and the Indonesian government are drafting the plans.”

Other plans, Wiwiek said, included the simplification of ID card applications for children of ex-East Timorese refugees, and family reunification programs to reunite separated East Timorese children and parents after the 1999 referendum that led to the independence of Timor Leste.

Culture and tourism partnerships, as well as a number of joint education and training programs are also part of the action plans.

Head of the human rights research and development center at the Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Ministry, Hafid Abbas, said Indonesia would ease immigration procedures for East Timorese citizens wanting to enter Indonesia.

“We will apply limited visas-on-arrival for East Timorese citizens entering through airports in Jakarta, Denpasar and Makassar,” Hafid said.

“The Indonesian government is also exploring the possibility of applying a similar policy for those entering Indonesia through land and sea .”

Operation director of Indonesia’s state-owned pension funds firm PT Taspen, Riskintono Rachman, said that Rp 11.13 billion (US$1.1 million) in pension fees were ready to be sent to 7,511 former Indonesian public servants now holding East Timorese citizenship.

He said there were 15,838 former Indonesian public servants living in Timor Leste and 3,684 of them had already received their pension funds.

In July last year, the Indonesian government accepted the Indonesia-Timor Leste CTF final report declaring that “gross rights violations in the form of crimes against humanity, such as murder, rape, torture, illegal detention and forced deportation against civilian populations”, had occurred in East Timor.

It has since conducted 15 inter-ministerial meetings involving various government institutions and state enterprises to draft the action plans, including the National Police, the Indonesian Military, the Office of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, the Office of the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry and PT Taspen.

Wiwiek said the government would conduct the final meeting to finalize the action plans before launching them in Dili on July 19.

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