|East Timor||BISHOP NASCIMENTO SEEKS FREEDOM FOR REFUGEES IN WEST TIMOR CAMPS|
Bishop Basilio Nascimento of Bacau yesterday appealed to Indonesia to free an estimated 150,000 Timorese who he says have been herded into refugee camps in West Timor.|
Speaking from his diocese, Bishop Nascimento said that most of the people in 28 refugee camps near the border with East Timor wanted ``totally'' to return home to an independent East Timor.
"They want to come back, I know they want to come back. They went out of East Timor to save themselves. They were afraid of the situation," he said.
Asked why he believed Indonesia's military wanted to depopulate the former Portuguese territory, Bishop Nascimento said that ``maybe they wanted to convince international opinion that the people didn't want independence after all''.
International relief agencies and the United Nations have documented accounts of entire towns and villages being forced on to ships, planes and trucks and taken to the camps controlled by pro-Indonesian militia. Relief agencies have been barred from entering the camps where more than 200,000 people are living. About 50,000 of them are believed to be relatives of Indonesian soldiers, police or militia.
Referring to the almost complete withdrawal of Indonesian troops in East Timor, Bishop Nascimento said he believed it would be hard for the soldiers to "accept this humiliating situation imposed on them by international pressure".
"Maybe they are planning something in the future," he said.
Age 9:55am 30/9/99