|Subject: SMH: Risky rally for independence seekers
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:43:12 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald Friday, June 4, 1999
COUNTDOWN TO INDONESIAN ELECTIONS
Risky rally for independence seekers
By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Dili
Pro-independence leaders yesterday defied threats by Jakarta-backed paramilitary groups, coming out of hiding in a show of support for a $US45 million ($70 million) United Nations operation aimed at bringing peace to East Timor.
Thousands of jubilant independence supporters shouted "Free East Timor" and insults to Indonesian police and military representatives attending the UN's official flag raising ceremony in Dili.
Mr David Ximenes, spokesman for the main independence group, the National Council for Timorese Resistance, and Mr Ian Martin, head of the UN's mission in East Timor, were forced to appeal to the crowd for calm so Indonesian guests could leave the ceremony peacefully.
"Please, if you respect the United Nations and its role here, please disperse peacefully," Mr Martin shouted. The crowd obeyed.
It was the biggest show of public support for independence since pro-Jakarta paramilitary groups began rampaging through the territory several months ago, killing scores of independence supporters.
Mr Martin told guests at the ceremony the UN would remain neutral in arranging a ballot giving East Timorese a choice between autonomy with Indonesia or independence, as promised by Indonesia's President, Dr B.J. Habibie, in January.
But Mr Martin warned Indonesian police, responsible for stopping violence ahead of the ballot, to act quickly to improve security.
Although the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, last week accused Indonesian security forces of doing nothing to stop the violence, Mr Martin said: "We have already received excellent co-operation from the [Indonesian] authorities in the establishment of our mission."
Mr Annan will decide before June 20 whether the violence has subsided enough for the ballot to proceed on schedule.
Many Australians, including 50 Federal police, will be among a 900-strong UN contingent responsible for supervising the ballot and advising Indonesian police.
Indonesia's representative at the ceremony, Ambassador Juwana, a leading member of a special Jakarta-appointed task force on East Timor, promised the full support of his Government.
Father Domingos Soares, a Catholic priest and member of the National Council for Timorese Resistance, who came out of hiding for the ceremony, said the establishment of the UN mission marked a new phase in East Timor's history that would lead to its independence.
"We are very happy," he said. "Despite the terrorisation of the people by the Indonesian security forces, people will be given the chance to vote for independence. I have worked closely with the people as a parish priest and if the UN allows them to vote without intimidation, 99 per cent of them will vote for independence."
The National Council for Timorese Resistance said in a statement its members strongly believed only UN forces could be trusted to maintain peace in East Timor during campaigning for the ballot.
The council also accused pro-Jakarta militia of abducting, killing and butchering East Timorese on behalf of an elite group struggling to keep power and money. "The presence of the UN is a victory for peace among the people of East Timor," it said.