Emmy F, Kupang – Feeling as if the government is treating him as a stepchild, former pro-Jakarta militia have reassembling their forces by forming the Ex-East Timor Forum for Struggle.
The forum is under the direct control of Eurico Guterres, a former militia leader who is free pending an appeal for committing gross human rights violations in East Timor following the 1999 referendum. Joanico Cesario, the former commander of the Sector A Militia which covered the Baucau region, is the forum’s secretary.
When contacted in Kupang on Saturday November 26, Guterres explained that the reason for forming the forum were not in order to conduct attacks against Timor Leste but rather to struggle for the welfare and future of its members who are still living under worrying conditions in the refugee camps in West Timor.
The government he said, has neglected former East Timor fighters who staked their lives on fighting for the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) and in defense of the red-and-white. Their sacrifice however received no sympathy from the state.
Members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) meanwhile, who explicitly took up arms and undermined the unity of NKRI as well as conducting a separatist movement to break away from Indonesia, have now received amnesty, abolition and compensation.
“The government has been unfair in [how] it gives [its] appreciation to its fighters. GAM members received attention while former East Timor fighters were left to live in poverty and destitution”, said the former commander of the Red White Iron Militia (BMP).
This unfair treatment by the government’s he continued, has turned former East Timor fighters as a second-class citizens because as well as loosing the land of their birth they also lost their true selves and their dignity.
“As fighters who staked their lives and property on [fighting for] NKRI, we fell as if the government’s policy of giving amnesty, abolition and compensation to GAM members who are foreign citizens is an error”, he said.
Guterres is even threatening to occupy the East Nusa Tenggara Regional House of Representatives if the government continues to leave integration fighters in a life of prolonged suffering in the refugee camps.
The forum – who’s membership is made up of hundreds of ex-militia and integration fighters – has already established a branch secretariats in a number of regencies and cities in East Nusa Tenggara. (ddn)
[Translated by James Balowski.]