|Subject: AU: Timor church plea as 200 feared killed
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 11:45:11 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
The Australian 29 May 99
Timor church plea as 200 feared killed
By JOHN ZUBRZYCKI in Baucau
THE Catholic Church in East Timor yesterday called for an end to violence and human rights abuses after it reported that more than 200 people might have been killed in recent attacks by pro-Indonesian militia.
The attacks occurred near the town of the Suai, 130km south-west of Dili.
The Bishop of Baucau, Basilio do Nascimento, made the appeal a day after the Indonesian military opened fire on a religious procession at Waleli, killing one man and wounding two others. Another four people were arrested and have not been accounted for.
An eyewitness to the killing at Waleli, 5km south of Baucau, told The Weekend Australian a group of about a dozen people were leaving a local church carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary to their home when they were suddenly surrounded by more than 100 uniformed soldiers, including members of the elite Kopassus force and mobile police known as Brimob.
Christina Ximenes said through an interpreter that when her nephew, Julio Ximenes, 25, started to run away he was shot and died instantly.
Distraught relatives kneeled on the ground and begged for help when a group of foreign journalists arrived at the hospital in Baucau, where the man's body was draped with a blanket before being taken back to his village for funeral rights.
"We don't know why he was killed. He had not done anything wrong," Ms Ximenes said.
Baucau is considered a pro-independence stronghold. A local member of the semi-clandestine National Council of the East Timor Resistance, who asked to remain anonymous, said the killing was meant to intimidate the population ahead of the referendum set for August 8.
Bishop Nascimento said he would ask the Indonesian military for a report on the killing, the first reported attack against the church since the massacre in Liquica in early April.
Referring to the situation in Suai, Bishop Nascimento said: "According to our reports, at least 200 people have vanished after militia attacks. We simply don't know what has happened to them. Our local priest is surrounded by the militia and cannot move.
"We must denounce every kind of threat against human life or human rights or even priests. The best for (East Timor) is if we are able to organise our destiny ourselves."
The attack on the procession in Waleli took place a day before a three-member UN Assistance Mission in East Timor team made its first visit to Baucau. On Thursday, UNAMET said it had postponed a visit to Suai and other violence-affected areas because of "inadequate security guarantees" from local authorities.
Meanwhile, a leader of the political wing of the pro-integration militia was pushed and jeered by a large crowd waiting for jobs when he went to visit the UNAMET headquarters in Dili on Friday.
Basilio dias Araujo, the spokesman for the Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice, said he had gone to the UNAMET headquarters to offer his group's co-operation in preparations for the referendum.