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Subject: AFP: Xanana said to sign appeal against violence
Date: Wed, 09 Dec 1998 10:08:07 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Agence France Presse December 08, 1998

Jailed Timorese rebel leader reportedly appeals against violence


The Indonesian foreign ministry Tuesday circulated an appeal to East Timorese youth to abandon violence, which it said had been signed by three East Timorese including jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao. There was no immediate way to verify the authenticity of the appeal, or whether Xanana had signed it. But a journalist for the only newspaper in the former Portuguese colony, Suara Timor Timur (The Voice of East Timor), said from Dili, the capital of the troubled territory, that it had not been heard of there. The two-page appeal, dated December 2, was also allegedly signed by Jakarta's roving ambassador on East Timor, Lopez de la Cruz, and the Jakarta-appointed governor of East Timor, Abilio Jose Osorio Soares. The appeal, which the ministry said was an unofficial translation from the original in Portuguese, started by saying the signatories had learned with "great sadness" of the "degeneration of the behaviours of the East Timorese Youth." It urged them to return to Christian virtues and to stop "attacking houses and shops to extend (sic) money by threatening the owners." "We are facing a difficult and critical period. The reforms in Indonesia give everybody the opportunity to consider and discuss problems of East Timor and her people," it said. While saying that "we fully understand the problems" it added that "all of these cannot be solved overnight." "We appeal to the East Timorese youth to give up gambling, drunkeness, disrespect of other persons, destruction of properties, and especially the practice of violence," it said. A foreign ministry covering note stressed a paragraph in the appeal that urged students to return to their studies "and prepare themselves for the benefits of the society." Diplomats noted that the unusual use by the Indonesian government of Xanana's name, authentic or not, came at a time when more voices in the international community were urging that Xanana be freed from Jakarta's Cipinang jail to help solve the ongoing East Timor problem. Xanana, who is serving a 20-year term for rebellion and illegal possession of weapons, has been seen by many since the fall of former Indonesian president Suharto as potentially playing a "Nelson Mandela" role in East Timor. Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony on December 7, 1975, and annexed it a year later after heavy fighting. But independentist fighters have continued their battle, and calls for a referendum on self-determination have mounted since May when former President Suharto stepped down. kw/bs/sls

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