Naktuka Area Dispute, Border Treaty Postponement Urged by Timor-Leste Non-Governmental Organizations

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(Dili) Mudansa – A border dispute in the Naktuka area of the Bene-Ufe village, Nitibe sub-region, Special Administrative Region of Oecusse Ambeno (RAEOA) has led the Timor-Leste Non-Governmental Organizations Forum (FONGTIL) to call on Timor-Leste’s Chief Negotiator with neighboring Indonesia to postpone the signing of a land border treaty.

In 1904, Portugal and the Netherlands signed an agreement to establish the border between Portuguese Timor and Dutch Timor, and the stakes from this agreement were to remain in place. In 1914, a comprehensive agreement was signed at the International Arbitration Tribunal in France to finalize the borderline between Portuguese Timor and Dutch Timor.

“Therefore, we recommend the formation of a technical team to explain and socialize the stakes that have been established. We urge the Chief Negotiators of Timor-Leste and Indonesia to postpone the signing of this land border treaty to provide an opportunity to decide in accordance with the 1914 International Arbitration Tribunal agreement signed in France,” expressed concern by Esterlita Pereira, the spokesperson during a press conference at FONGTIL’s hall on Wednesday, January 24, 2024.

Timor-Leste, 27 provinces of Indonesia continue to use the international arbitration border established with pillars between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. After restoring its independence, Timor-Leste considers Naktuka to belong to its territory according to the 1914 International Agreement.

Since gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste, with its constitution outlining sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international relations, has been concerned about the Naktuka region. In 2018, the government issued Resolution No. 22/2018 on December 5, appointing the current Prime Minister to lead the land border negotiation team. The stakes set by the technical team for the border delimitation between Timor-Leste and Indonesia have adversely affected Naktuka’s agricultural land, covering nearly 270 hectares.

It is emphasized that the signing of such an agreement would continue to impact agricultural production in Naktuka, potentially leading to the loss of ancestral land for the local people. Furthermore, it raises concerns about insecurity and possible conflicts between the people of Naktuka and Oepoli.

FONGTIL calls on all entities to provide maximum support to ensure Timor-Leste does not lose its precious land, affecting both land and maritime sovereignty. The appeal extends to those in Oe-Cusse, authorities, resistance organizations, academics, and communities in border areas, urging them to support the Central Government by presenting concrete cultural and historical evidence to help make informed decisions.

As for the border negotiation team, including representatives from Oe-Cusse, village chiefs, communities, and veterans, they are urged to actively participate in the decision-making process for the border delimitation between Naktuka and Oepoli. Community contributions along the border areas are also sought to strengthen defence and security institutions to ensure a well-managed and secure border in Naktuka, Covalima, and Bobonaro.

“What does the signing of an agreement between Timor-Leste and Indonesia with a ‘take and give’ approach imply? (What are we giving and what are we receiving from this agreement?) Therefore, we call on the National Parliament not to ratify the land border treaty to be signed in Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 26, 2024,” concluded the spokesperson.

Journalist: Mariano Do Santos Abi

Editor: Felisberto F. Da Costa

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