Subject: LUSA: Guerrilla leader says his troops will "fight on until the independence of East Timor is Won"
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 11:22:55 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <email@example.com>
Jakarta, 04 Aug (Lusa) - East Timor's guerrilla commander Taur Matan Ruak has vowed that his troop will "fight on until the independence of East Timor is won." Ruak told the Associated Press in an interview released on Monday, "We have never lost hope, we will stand frim", stressing his guerrilla movement would continue to fight Indonesia's occupation troops in his homeland despite new diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to East Timor. Ruak took command of the guerrilla forces earlier this year in East Timor's mountains where several hundred freedom fighters have waged war against the Indonesian invaders since December 1975. Ruak's defiant statement came ahead of talks between the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Portugal, Ali Alatas and Jaime Gama, at the United Nations in New York this week. The talks, which will be chaired by UB Secretary General Kofi Annan, are expected to be dominated by an offer from Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to grant some "autonomy" to East Timor. However, Jakarta continues to reject East Timor's right of self-determination. Indonesian withdrew some 400 of its 12,000 troops from the half-island off northern Australia last week. Another 600 troops are scheduled to leave this month. Ruak described the partial withdrawal as possibly just a publicity stunt. Until now, Indonesians have never shown good faith when it comes to withdrawing their troops, he said. The Commander of the tiny guerrilla movement called for UN supervision of the Indonesian troop withdrawals. Ruak welcomed greater political freedoms granted by Habibie. "You can see there are still political prisoners throughout Indonesia and East Timor. There are still many problems to resolve, but we should be very happy with the amount of freedom of expression, freedom of association and a free press decreed by Habibie", he said. Meanwhile, the president of the Association of Former Political Prisoners of East Timor (AEPPOLTI) , Roberto Jeronimo, in Lisbon on Tuesday planned to hand a petition to Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, requesting a referendum on self-determination in East Timor and the release of imprisoned armed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao. Jeronimo told Lusa in Lisbon on Monday he regarded Indonesia's partial troop withdrawal from his occupied homelans as a "farce". He said his association "totally" rejected Indonesia's proposal to grant "autonomy" to East Timor.
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