|Subject: KY: E. Timorese hold 'thanksgiving' rite
for U.N. staff
Date: Sat, 07 Aug 1999 09:59:11 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Kyodo News E. Timorese hold 'thanksgiving' rite for U.N. staff
HATUQUECI, East Timor, Aug. 4 Kyodo
About 300 East Timorese held a 'thanksgiving celebration' Wednesday in Hatuqueci village to show their gratitude for the voter registration drive of the U.N. Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).
The villagers, including children and guerrillas who came down from their mountain lairs, performed traditional dances for UNAMET staff.
'This is a thanksgiving celebration,' said Manuel Luis, one of the celebration's organizers. 'We are very proud to have been given attention after 24 years of struggle.'
Over the past 20 days, around 4,000 local villagers have registered, he said.
UNAMET chief Ian Martin said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan decided to extend the voter registration period by two more days in East Timor and four days outside East Timor, saying tens of thousands of villagers displaced by escalating violence have yet to register.
The Indonesian government had requested an extension to give the displaced people a chance to register.
In Hatuqueci in Liquica regency, 60 kilometers west of Dili, villagers continue to voice concern over intimidation by men pressuring them to vote for autonomy within Indonesia, said Edmund Lobo Nuns Sera, a local pro-independence leader.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed in 1976. East Timor is a territory of around 885,000 people.