Subject: AFP: Crowds rally to greet UN envoy in East Timor
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 1998 10:59:07 +0000
Received from Joyo
Crowds rally to greet UN envoy in East Timor
DILI, East Timor, Dec 19 (AFP) - More than 1,000 pro-independence residents of East Timor rallied in the capital Dili Saturday, preparing to greet the UN secretary general's special envoy on the territory Jamsheed Marker.
Riding on buses, trucks, motorbikes and taxis, the protestors circled through town. They sang songs and called for a peaceful solution for the former Portuguese colony, witnesses said.
"Let us protest in peace," "(Indonesian) Soldiers, leave our homeland forever," "Let the UN hear from the people," they yelled.
At the governor's office representatives from student groups and the East Timor National Resistance Council met local officials including East Timor military commander Colonel Tono Suratman.
The council representatives demanded that Marker stay in Dili. There were rumours that he might hold planned meetings with government, military and church leaders outside the capital for fear that demonstrations could degenerate into riots.
Late in the morning Marker was reportedly on his way to Dili from the Indonesian island of Bali where he held a closed-door meeting with the regional military commander overseeing East Timor Friday.
He was due to arrive in the neighboring Indonesian provincial capital of Kupang and be taken by military helicopter to Dili.
Marker arrived in Indonesia Tuesday for a nine-day visit. He met Wednesday with two top generals, the head of the military intelligence agency and the head of the military's territorial affairs.
On Thursday Marker met in Jakarta with jailed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, who has signalled he would accept an Indonesian offer of autonomy as a step towards self-determination. Xanana also pledged his support for continuing UN-sponsored talks to find an autonomy formula for the troubled territory.
Marker, whose East Timor visit is due to last for two days, declined to comment on reports of increased Indonesian military activity in several districts of East Timor. He said his mission is "to find a political solution," not "fact-finding."
There has been a resurgence of attacks by independence supporters on Indonesian troops, including one on a military outpost in Alas sub-district last month.
Reports of alleged military violence, though not confirmed by a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross team, prompted Portugal briefly to suspend the autonomy talks last month.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year. But the United Nations and most states continue to view Lisbon as the administrator.
The UN secretary general's office has since 1983 sponsored a dialogue between Indonesia and Portugal to find a settlement.
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 1420 80153 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Defending victims of oppression in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh, 1973-1998