Subject: SMH/E.Timor: 'Remember the past, look to the future'

Sydney Morning Herald September 7, 2000

'Remember the past, look to the future'

By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Suai

They gathered by the thousand, many bringing tributes of flowers to mark the single worst act of militia violence in East Timor - the Suai Cathedral massacre one year ago.

Outside the chapel where Fathers Hilario Madeira, Francisco Soares and Dewanto were hacked and shot to death and their bodies burnt, hundreds wept, laid flowers and placed candles.

About 4,000 people, many of whom had walked from remote areas, gathered yesterday to attend mass and commemorate the September6 army-backed massacre of as many as 200 independence supporters.

Dili's Nobel peace laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo, acknowledged in his sermon the huge sacrifice made.

"In Suai, many people died in the cause of freedom for East Timor," he said.

"It is important to remember our martyrs and heroes but it is also important to look to the future with new hope and enthusiasm.

"We must start out from the ashes to build up this new country, Timor Lorosae."

Before the mass, the bishop blessed a huge reconciliation hut built in traditional style of thatch and freestanding poles. It houses an exhibition of local culture and craft.

The ceremony was also attended by senior United Nations staff and representatives of aid agencies based in Suai.

Trevor Reece-Jones, the former bodyguard of Princess Diana, was present in his capacity as deputy UN security chief for Suai.

The huge grey, unfinished cathedral stood overlooking the central market area, its concrete facade still showing bullet holes from last year's violence.

"People were terrified; they had been attacked and they had no protection. The militia were growing stronger and stronger and obviously supported by the Indonesian military," Mr Patrick Burgess, the United Nations head of human rights for East Timor, said.

Witnesses reported seeing trucks stacked with bodies driving over the border to West Timor. One militia leader involved in the slaughter, Igidio Manek, is also sought by UN human rights investigators for child kidnapping and rape.

Senior UN officials said that before fleeing East Timor, Manek kidnapped a 15-year-old girl as a "war prize".

She is now pregnant and has been paraded at the border surrounded by armed militia. High-level requests have been made to Indonesian authorities about her repatriation, a UN official said.

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