president pays respects to East Timor dead
Also: East Timor: Sampaio Ends Visit Urging Timorese Unity -------- Agence France Presse Portuguese president pays respects to East Timor dead DILI, East Timor, Feb 13
Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio Sunday took time out during his historic visit to East Timor to pay his respects to about 150 people killed by Indonesian troops in a cemetery massacre in 1991.
During an unscheduled stop, Sampaio walked alone with resistance leader Xanana Gusmao and Nobel peace laureate Bishop Ximenes Carlos Belo past some of the graves in the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili where the victims were killed and later buried.
The three men stood for a few minutes in silent contemplation looking up at a tiny chapel erected in the cemetery, Sampaio in the middle with his arms around the two men, who led the struggle for independence during two decades of Indonesian occupation.
At one point, Sampaio lifted his glasses and wiped his eyes.
Earlier Belo had described the circumstances of the 1991 killing to Sampaio, who is on the first visit by a Portuguese head of state to the tiny territory which for more than 400 years was a Portuguese colony.
It was at Santa Cruz cemetery on November 12, 1991 that more than 150 East Timorese were killed when Indonesian troops opened fire on a march after an independence flag was waved.
Television footage of the massacre was smuggled out of the territory and helped put Indonesia's occupation of East Timor back on the international agenda.
In November, thousands of East Timorese packed into the tiny cemetery to pay homage to the dead, two months after the territory voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with Indonesia which invaded in 1975.
The president's stop came as he was on his way back to Dili after a visit to Becora to inspect some of the 800 Portuguese troops posted in the territory with multinational peacekeeping forces.
The troops were sent in to quell the military-backed militia violence which erupted after the August 30 independence vote.
"This mission has a very special significane to Portugal and to its armed forces," Sampaio told about 140 Portuguese troops and some 40 Portuguese civilian police at the base of the First Airborne battalion.
"They are coming back to East Timor within the United Nations to guarantee the security of the territory and to guarantee a peaceful independence. The security of the territory is the first condition to make possible reconciliation and rebuilding," he added.
"East Timorese people have their eyes on your mission. We are all very aware of the high expectations of the East Timorese people and the opportunity to unite the Portuguese and East Timorese built during the difficult years of the struggle."
Earlier, Sampaio held talks with East Timorese leaders to discuss ways that Portugal could help rebuild the territory after the destruction wreaked on it by the pro-Jakarta militias.
14 Feb 00 14:00 East Timor: Sampaio Ends Visit Urging Timorese Unity
Baucau, East Timor, Feb. 14 (Lusa) - Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio ended a three-day visit to East Timor Monday, reiterating calls for the people of Lisbon's former colony to remain united in their determination to reconstruct the devastated territory during its transition to independence.
"You have the attention of the world focused on your lives", Sampaio told a crowd of thousands in the eastern city of Baucau, before departing home.
"You must respond to the world, saying you understand that the struggle now is for peace, security and national reconstruction", he urged.
In a ceremony, in which he thanked the Timorese Catholic church for its pivotal resistance role during more than two decades of Indonesian occupation, Sampaio bestowed one of Portugal's highest honors, the Great Cross of the Order of Liberty, on Baucau's Bishop Basilio do Nascimento.
Earlier Monday in the central town of Aileu, Sampaio, the first head of state to visit East Timor since its Aug. 30 self- determination plebiscite and the anti-independence slaughter that followed, underlined the same theme of unity.
In a speech translated into the local Tetum language by his host, independence leader Xanana Gusmao, he described unity as an "essential element" for Timor's renaissance, a quality already demonstrated by its people and leadership which had won "the respect of the international community".
Begun Saturday, two days after Portuguese peacekeeping troops starting arriving, the festive three-day visit was marred Monday by word that Sampaio's 92-year-old mother had died in Lisbon.
The president, who completed his scheduled program, departed Baucau homewards aboard a Romanian aircraft because of technical problems with his Portuguese air forces C-130 Hercules.
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