|Subject: AFP: East Timor pro-independence youths
protest ban on Ramos Horta
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 09:15:21 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
East Timor pro-independence youths protest ban on Ramos Horta
DILI, East Timor, July 1 (AFP) - A group of East Timorese youths and students rallied here Thursday to protest Jakarta's move to deny exiled pro-independence advocate Jose Ramos Horta premission to visit the territory.
About 60 protestors, from the Renetil and Impetu pro-independence groups, staged the noisy rally in outside their office not far from Dili cathedral.
"Indonesia does not have the right to forbid Mr. Ramos Horta from coming to East Timor," one their leaders, Heldadi Santos of the Renetil told AFP.
"All East Timorese have the rights to come," he said.
The protestors displayed posters reading: " People are waiting for you, Mr. Ramos Horta," "Welcome Doctor Ramos Horta."
Another labelled Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas "the provocateur of unrest in East Timor."
Ramos Horta, who arrived in Jakarta on Saturday to attend a reconciliation meeting between representatives of the pro- and anti-Indonesia groups organised by the Roman Catholic church, has been in self-exile since 1975.
He left East Timor just a few days before Indonesian troops invaded the former Portuguese colony in December 1975 and has since crusaded for an independent East Timor overseas.
His tireless efforts earned him the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize which he shared with Dili's Roman Catholic Biship Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo.
Alatas has said he might consider giving Ramos Horta permission to visit East Timor as long as he did not campaign for independence there.
On Wednesday a group of pro-integrationists issued a death threat against Ramos Horta warning he would be killed if he tried to return home.
"He will instantly be killed as soon as he arrives in East Timor by the Aitarak or the Besi Merah Putih (army-backed militia)," the integrationist group leader Joao Angelo de Sousa said.
Acting foreign minister Feisal Tanjung later Wednesday told a cabinet meeting Ramos Horta should not be allowed to travel to East Timor.
Ramos Horta said before coming to Jakarta that he wanted to campaign in East Timor ahead of the August ballot to be held by the United Nations to determine whether the territory wants autonomy under Indonesia or freedom.
The students and youths also protested against the attack on a UN post by pro-Indonesia militia in Maliana township on Tuesday that left one UN poll officer and several local men injured.
"The Indonesian government has no ability to keep peace in East Timor," Santos said.
Yeni Rosa Damayanti, an Indonesian activist of the Solidarity Group for East Timor, also addressed the crowd of protestors, questioning the will of the Indonesian police to maintain peace for the referendum.
"As far as I know the Indonesian police are no differenct from the Indonesian military," she said.
The United States and Australia, reacting to the Maliana attack, said they believed the Indonesian military was not doing enough to assure the security ahead of the ballot in East Timor.
Many have accused the Indonesian military of arming or at least backing the armed pro-Indonesian militias which have been blamed for most of the violence there since January, when Jakarta announced it may let go East Timor if the autonomy offer was rejected there.