|Subject: AFP: Nobel laureate presides over peace
service in Dili
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 11:20:34 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Nobel laureate presides over peace service in Dili
DILI, East Timor, May 12 (AFP) - Dili Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo held a mass "prayer for peace" attended by Indonesian soldiers here Wednesday, three days after violent pro-Indonesian militia attacks wracked the city.
After the service, at which Nobel peace laureate Belo said the violence had been "perpetrated by East Timorese themselves and soiled the name of peace," military chief Colonel Tono Suratman said he was set to start disarming the feared pro-Indonesian militia.
"Tomorrow we will make a sweep to take the home-made weapons" from the militia at Liquisa town, Suratman, who was dressed in civilian clothes for the service, told journalists.
He said the military would deliver an ultimatum to the militia at Liquisa, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Dili.
"If they don't, -zzzt," he said, making a gesture as if shooting someone in the head.
But the colonel said he would not take journalists with him on the trip to Liquisa, the stronghold of the military-backed Besi Merah-Putih (Red and White Iron) militia, who were heavily involved in the Dili attacks.
Diplomats and journalists who witnessed the attacks said the Indonesian military and police did little to nothing to stop them and were seen in places with the militia.
The Red and White are also blamed for the massacre of some 25 unarmed refugees in Liquisa last month, after which Belo broke off church mediated talks between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian factions in East Timor.
The United Nations has pledged under a landmark agreement signed by Portugal and Indonesia last week to provide civilian police security for East Timorese to choose between independence and remaining under the Indonesian flag.
But the vote on independence or autonomy, scheduled for August 8, will only take place if the security situation permits.
Suratman said under the agreement the Indonesian army would "stay in their barracks and in the districts and only give help in the districts" if it was needed in the runup to the poll.
"It is not my (the military's) job, it is the police's job," he said.
"Since a week already they (the UN police assessment team) have already been travelling... to make contact with the local police."
"They (the UN police advisers) will not have guns. The (Indonesian) police will protect them," he added.
But he said the army could help the police in disarming both sides.
During the service Belo did not mention the pro-Indonesian militia who launched the attacks.
But afterwards the 1996 Nobel peace prize laureate told journalists: "I hope some day the militia and the Falintil (the armed wing of East Timor's independence movement) will also attend."
"We are trying to find peace. Maybe with our prayers our people can sit down and start talks for peace, not for violence," he said.
The service, which Suratman said would be followed by one on Thursday and another on May 19, ended with the some 600 Christians, Moslems and Hindus present in the hall -- an indoor basketball court -- crying out "Welcome peace" repeatedly and shaking hands with one another.
Before leaving, the Indonesian police chief for East Timor Colonel Timbul Silaen challenged a western journalist who asked if the police felt they could keep the peace for the poll by saying: "You have to restrain yourself from writing too -- don't say there are 100 dead when there is one dead."
Journalists were stoned and threatened with pistols by the militia during the attacks Monday and Tuesday.