Subject: RT: Army to stay in East Timor
Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 10:23:42 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Indonesian army says will not leave East Timor 08:33 a.m. Jul 01, 1998 Eastern
JAKARTA, July 1 (Reuters) - The Indonesian military will not pull out of the troubled territory of East Timor because its presence is still needed there, official media quoted a senior army commander as saying on Wednesday.
``The society needs the military for protection, and not as fighting units, as well as to develop and to increase its prosperity,'' Udayana military region commander Major-General Adam R. Damiri was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.
East Timor, a Roman Catholic-dominated enclave of 800,000 people, falls in the Udayana military region.
Damiri said he hoped that East Timorese who were calling for a referendum in the territory would consider the matter in a mature way.
``We worry that a referendum would open up old wounds and we do not wish for any fighting between different groups,'' he said.
Indonesia has faced continuous opposition to its rule in East Timor since it invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognised by the United Nations.
East Timor's charismatic religious leader, Nobel laureate Bishop Carlos Belo, has called on President B.J. Habibie to reduce the number of troops in the territory.
The president offered to give East Timor special status in June in a move designed at breaking the deadlock and working towards a resolution of the issue. The offer has been rejected by pro-independence groups who are demanding a referendum on self-determination.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas was quoted by Antara as saying on Wednesday that anti-integration protesters in East Timor were not in a majority.
``There were about 10,000-50,000 protesters but there were 800,000 other people who did not take part in the protest,'' Alatas was quoted as saying.
He said the anti-integration protesters were the most vocal and well-organised and as such, they appeared to be the most prominent.
Jakarta still faces small scale armed resistance to its rule in the territory as well as ongoing political resistance to its claim of sovereignty over the eastern half of the island just north of Australia.
On November 12, 1991, Indonesian troops opened fire on a group of demonstrators, killing 50 according to official figures. Witnesses and human rights groups say at least 200 people died.