10 January 2013

Border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia closed following torture and murder of Timorese man by "foreigners"

Map showing location of Oecusse District in East Timor
Map showing Oecusse District
ETLJB 10 January 2012 - Following the torture and murder of an East Timorese man in the enclave of Oecusse in East Timor in which the Indonesian military has been implicated, the border between the two countries at Naktuka has been closed pending the investigation into the death.

An English translation of a report published by Jornal Independente on Wednesday, 09 January 2013, stated that the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia have temporarily closed off movement through the Naktuka Border Crossing, in the Subdistrict of Nitibe, District of Oecussi.

Movement by citizens of the two nations through the border crossing will not be allowed while the police search for the perpetrators of the killing a Timorese man and the burning of a number of houses recently at the Naktuka border area.

Last month, a “Lia Nain” (Tetum for traditional “lore man”) named Fisen Falo was killed in the border area in question while working in his field and a number of houses were also burnt by unidentified persons.

The Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Constancio Pinto, said that the government still has no knowledge of the identity of the killer or killers.

“We do not know who it was who killed him, and this matter is still being investigated the police,” Constancio told journalists is his office on 8 January last.

Constancio also appealed to the people of Naktuka to remain calm because the identity of the perpetrators of these crimes will only be established through an investigation.  Constancio said that currently the Border Patrol Unit and the Indonesian National Armed Forces have closed the border area around Naktuka so as to prevent movement from one side to another by the population of both the Indonesian and Timor-Leste sides of the border.

“It is to temporarily prevent dislocation from the other side (NNT) to our side (Naktuka) as well as from Naktuka to the other side (NTT),” said Constancio.  Nor have the perpetrators of the arson of the homes of the Naktuka residents been identified, Constancio added.

The border area at Naktuka has been the subject of contention on previous occasions. On 4 March 2011, Diario Nacional published a report that MP Duarte Nunes from the East Timor National Parliament's Committee B for Defence and Security said that Indonesian National Armed Force (TNI) soldiers had illegally entered the country in the area of Naktuka.

Nunes said that the TNI soldiers entered the border calling on local residents there not to hold any activities in the disputed land area and further said that he had been informed by the Timorese National Police (PNTL) commander that the TNI soldiers had twice crossed the country's border illegally. At the time, the MP called on the Government to speed up the process of resolving the border demarcation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, so that local residents in the area could remain calm.

Sources: Jornal Independente 9/01/2013 and Diario Nacional 04/11/2011. Edited by Warren L. Wright

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