Friday, October 16, 2009

Border incursion

Tempo Semanal reports on a border incursion by Indonesian troops into Oecusse that allegedly took place on October 12.

Four TNI soldiers armed with M16s and 4 unarmed paramilitary personnel, as well as a civilian entered the Cruz area of the southern most Passabe sub-District of Oecusse, Tempo writes. The TNI assaulted Timorese building a police border post and stole some building materials. Mr. Agustino Eta, the Chefe Aldiea Haumnani, told Tempo that
the TNI officers asked him "who instructed to build the border police post, and to whom did you get permission from to build this police post?" The TNI officer told Mr Eta that the area is in dispute between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Mr. Eta responded "Our Timor-Leste leaders told us to build this border police post here". He added "that Timorese do not need to ask permission to build a police post on their own territory". Furthermore, Mr Eta angrily continued that "if we want to build post in Indonesian then we need to ask permission". "For me and my Suco Abani community we don't think this is a disputed area, but it is our land [Timor-Leste]".
Timor-Leste's goverment in Dili only learned of the incursion 3 days after it happened.
Since June 2009 Oekusi's western border near Naktuka has been the scen[e] of border disputes with a number of armed TNI being arrested by Timorese border police for entering Timor-Leste, and quickly being released to return to Indonesia as Timor-Leste is sensitive to percevied threats from the country's neighbour...
Confidential UN map of the disputed area from 2005 , obtained by Tempo Semanal

One has to wonder if this is related to either the ongoing controversy surrounding Timor's extra-judicial release of indicted militia-leader Maternus Bere or the seemingly never-ending border negotiations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, which are regularly announced as nearly finished.

Update (of sorts): Meant to include these links in the original posting. Tempo Semanal had an article about an earlier incursion: TNI Enter Oecusse Enclave - Border Dispute.

Simao de Carvalho the Chief of Naktuka told Tempo Semanal today that on September 26th 2009 the people of Naktuka village of Bene Ufe, Sud District Nitibe district Oekuse found some 9 Indonesian Army soldiers enter[ed] the area and report[ed] to the East Timor Police Border Patrol Unit.

Global Voices highlighted the issue a week or so ago, citing the TimorOhin [Tet.]website and the related TimorNewsNetwork news summary.

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