Subject: LUSA: After 'foreign interference` demo, FM invites protesters to talk

Also - AGE: Anti-UN protests in Timor

21-08-2002 14:03:00. Notícia nº 4022109

East Timor: After 'foreign interference` demo, FM invites protesters to talk

About 500 demonstrators who gathered outside Dili`s Government Palace Wednesday to protest at foreign interference in East Timor were met by Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta who invited them to discuss their grievances with him later this week.

The demonstration ended after Ramos Horta`s proposal for a "clarification and dialog" session in a Dili gymnasium, together with President Xanana Gusmao, on Thursday.

The protesters, who included ex-resistance members and Falintil guerrillas and the militant Popular Commission for the Defense of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, demanded that Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and speaker of Parliament Francisco Guterres also attend the discussion.

"We are not truly independent. We are a state under a new form of colonization. We do not have sovereignty over our security forces", said one of the organizers of the protest.

Prominent among the demonstrators outside the government building were individuals seen organizing a mass breakout of prisoners from Dili`s Becora jail last Friday, in which 180 inmates escaped. About 50 prisoners still remain on the run.

Ramos Horta told Lusa that he hoped Thursday`s dialog could resolve the problem. However, he expressed some concern at verbal attacks on the foreign presence in Timor, adding that it was not clear whether "these complaints could turn into actions".

CJB/ASP -Lusa-

The Age August 22, 2002

Anti-UN protests in Timor

By Jill Jolliffe Dili

East Timor's new government faced a second day of protests yesterday, when a dissident political party demonstrated outside government offices.

Among the crowd were remnants of a group of 2000 former independence fighters who held an unauthorised military parade in Dili on Tuesday.

Yesterday's protest, involving about 500 people, was staged in front of the main government offices near the Dili waterfront.

The building also houses offices of the United Nations Mission to Support East Timor.

At first it appeared the protesters would try to force their way in to the building, but leaders of the dissident party, the CPD-RDTL, quickly brought them under control.

The crowd shouted anti-UN slogans and demanded that the government set a date for a day of national dialogue on the problems of former resistance soldiers. Thousands of the veterans are now unemployed and, they say, forgotten.

Most of the demonstrators were country people from the east of the territory. They travelled to Dili on Sunday in a convoy of more than 100 trucks crowded with former soldiers wearing uniforms.

Families of victims of a 1983 massacre at the town of Kraras carried a banner demanding that the perpetrators be tried. More than 180 people were allegedly killed by an Indonesian firing squad in September of that year.

Protest organiser Jacob Correia read a list of demands, which included the end of UN control of the East Timorese and defence forces, which are not yet in the hands of the newly independent government.

He repeatedly accused the UN of exercising "neo-colonial" control over East Timor.

A delegation of the protesters met government officials, and Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta later announced that President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minster Mari Alkatiri would see them today.

In two days of demonstrations, the CPD-RDTL, formerly considered a pariah movement, has flexed its muscles.

At official ceremonies on Tuesday for the 27th anniversary of the formation of the guerrilla army Falintil, Dr Alkatiri indicated his willingness to make concessions.

He promised a series of measures to help the many problems of former guerrillas.

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