|Subject: RT: Several thousand pro-JKT Timorese rally
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:49:29 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo:
April 10, 3:08 a.m. ET
Thousands of pro-Jakarta Timorese rally for war
VIQUEQUE, East Timor, April 10 (Reuters) - Thousands of pro-Indonesia East Timorese rallied on Saturday in a show of force following a call to arms by pro-independence guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao.
Armed mainly with spears, machetes and home-made guns, some 2,500 militiamen from all over the former Portuguese colony gathered in the morning in Viqueque, some 90 km (56 miles) east of Dili. About 1,500 people looked on, a Reuters cameraman said.
It is the second such rally since Gusmao called for a popular insurrection against Indonesian forces in East Timor on Monday, which pro-Jakarta militias deemed as an offer of war.
On Wednesday Gusmao denied he had declared war on Indonesia, explaining that he expected the resistance fighters to help people for defence purposes. Jakarta on Friday threatened to put Gusmao back in jail unless he retracted the call to arms within a week.
In a traditional ceremony, the militiamen sacrificed a dog and four people drank its blood as representatives of the militias. They vowed that they were ready for possible fresh clashes with pro-independence groups.
A third rally is planned for Sunday.
Violence in the territory has escalated since Jakarta in January reversed 23 years of staunch opposition to independence. Last month Indonesia and Portugal agreed to allow the East Timorese to determine their future through a direct ballot, scheduled for July.
But U.N. mediator Jamsheed Marker said late on Friday that recent violence threatens that ballot.
On Sunday the territory's spiritual leader Bishop Carlos Belo is due to hold a mass in Liquisa, 30 km (19 miles) west of Dili, where he said 25 people died in a massacre on Tuesday.
The massacre has been blamed on pro-Jakarta forces. Other estimates placed the death toll at anything from five to 57.