Subject: LUSA: Police fire tear gas, rubber bullets to disperse pro-veterans demo

20-07-2004 11:49:00 GMT . Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-6205888 Temas:

East Timor: Police fire tear gas, rubber bullets to disperse pro-veterans demo

Dili, July 20 (Lusa) - Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets Tuesday to disperse several hundred demonstrators, including former guerrilla fighters, who had occupied parts of East Timor's government palace grounds overnight, demanding "justice" for veterans and the resignation of some officials.

Police said they had arrested 26 people but not the demonstration's leader, renowned former guerrilla Cornélio da Gama, popularly known as L7.

The deputy interior minister, Alcino Barris, said the detained would be charged with "illegal demonstration and resisting authorities".

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, in comments to Lusa after the police intervention, blamed two opposition party leaders for politically "manipulating" L7 and the grievances of veterans of the resistance war against Indonesian occupation.

After a meeting with Alkatiri, President Xanana Gusmao, the FALANTIL guerrillas' former commander, told Lusa he lamented that L7 appeared to have sought "moral and, possibly, political backing" from persons who lacked "credibility" to resolve the veterans' problems.

Gusmão said he would try to talk to L7 and to the opposition leaders fingered by Alkatiri, Mário Carrascalão of the Social Democratic Party and Ângela Freitas of the Labor Party.

The unauthorized demonstration began Monday night with about 300 protesters demanding "justice and respect" for veterans and the resignations of Interior Minister Rogério Lobato and Police Superintendent Paulo Martins.

The demonstrators, many of them former FALANTIL fighters, occupied part of the seaside government palace grounds and about 50 camped overnight at the site under the watchful gaze of police.

The protesters placed a coffin, allegedly containing remains of liberation struggle comrades, between them and the police.


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