|Subject: AFP: Three East Timor pro-autonomy groups
form United Front
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 08:55:06 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Three East Timor pro-autonomy groups form United Front
DILI, East Timor, June 23 (AFP) - The leaders of three East Timorese pro-integration groups, including a militia, said Wednesday they had formed one body to campaign for autonomy under Indonesia.
Some 100 people, many in civil service uniforms attended the inauguration of the "United Front for Autonomy" in the hall in the grounds of the governor's office. East Timor Governor Jose Osorio Abilio Soares was also present.
The leaders of the three groups -- Domingus Soares, Francisco X. Lopez da Cruz and Joao da Silva Tavares -- signed the merger and said in a joint statement they would campaign for autonomy under Indonesia.
Domingo Soares heads the Front for Peace, Freedom and Democracy (FPDK), Lopez da Cruz is chief of the Front of the People of East Timor (BRTT) and Tavares is a commander of a pro-Indonesia civilian militia.
They said "components of pro-integration must be consolidated to struggle for the establishment of ... wide ranging autonomy... as a compromise solution that will put all the East Timorese in a win-win position."
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and unlaterally annexed the former Portuguese territory a year later in a move never recognized by the United Nations.
The vote on whether East Timorese want autonomy under Indonesia or independence is scheduled to be held in August under UN supervision.
Answering journalists questions after the ceremony, which ended with songs and prayers, Lopez da Cruz said the idea behind the group was "there should be no winners and no losers, and noone should be called a hero or a traitor."
Lopez da Cruz called autonomy a compromise solution after years of war.
Governor Soares told journalists he saw no problem in the pro-integrationists using the government hall, saying "for the campaign (ahead of the vote), we would not be allowed, but this is just organizing."
Domingus added that the group had paid to use the hall, and added that it was open to the public.
The meeting came just after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that the August 8 vote had been put back two weeks because of security and logistical problems.
Violence between those favoring and opposing independence has spiralled in the former Portuguese colony since January when Jakarta first announced that it might be prepared to let the territory go if its people did not accept autonomy.
Much of the blame for the violence has been laid on the militia, whom diplomats and rights groups charge are atcively backed and armed by the Indonesian military.