|=Subject: NYT: Accords Signed for Timor Autonomy
Vote; Rights Lawyer Harassed
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 09:33:52 -0400
From: Charles Scheiner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
New York Times, May 6, 1999
(This article appeared in the print edition but is not on the Times' website. It is on the same page as the Mydans article already posted about terror in the hospitals. -- Charlie)
Accords Signed for Timor Autonomy Vote; Rights Lawyer Harassed
By PHILIP SHENON
WASHINGTON, May 5 - Indonesia and Portugal signed a landmark agreement today that will enable the people of the violence-plagued territory of East Timor to decide if they want wide-ranging autonomy, a vote that could eventually result in independence for the former Portuguese colony.
If voters reject autonomy under continued Indonesian rule in the vote on Aug. 8, as is widely predicted, Indonesia has promised to allow East Timor to become independent. Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and later incorporated it.
The agreement was signed at the United Nations by the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and Portugal in what Secretary General Kofi Annan hailed as "an historic moment" for the 800,000 people of East Timor, which makes up half of an island at the southern end of the Indonesian archipelago.
Yet even as Indonesian officials spoke optimistically today about the future of the territory, human rights groups reported that the home of a leading human rights lawyer in East Timor had been surrounded by soldiers and anti-independence militia members who were threatening his life, only hours after The New York Times published his blistering attack on the Indonesian military.
Arnold S. Kohen, a human rights campaigner for East Timor, said the soldiers began surrounding the home of the lawyer, Aniceto Guterres Lopes, several hours after his op-ed essay in The Times appeared on the newspaper's Internet site.
"They surrounded him, and basically his life has been threatened," Mr. Kohen said. "His life has been threatened on a number of occasions recently. The gutsiness of this guy is incredible." In the essay, Mr. Lopes accused the Indonesia military of supporting anti-independence militias that are "drowning our hopes in blood."
Senator Russell D. Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who has promoting human rights in Indonesia, said that if Mr. Lopes and other rights advocates were harmed, it would have "a devastating impact" on relations with the United States.