Subject: E Timor women committing suicide to avoid being raped: Ramos Horta
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 1999 21:40:19 EDT

East Timor women committing suicide to avoid being raped: Ramos Horta

SYDNEY, Sept 12 (AFP) - Women in East Timor were committing suicide to avoid being raped and killed by Indonesian army forces, exiled independence leader Jose Ramos Horta said Sunday.

"I was told that every village in the country has been razed to the ground and people are shot at," the Nobel laureate told Australia's Nine television network.

"Women, many women, are already committing suicide. They prefer to commit suicide rather than fall in the hands of the special forces who rape them in front of their husbands and then shoot them."

Ramos Horta said resistance leaders had told him they remained under orders from Xanana Gusmao, head of the National Timorese Resistance Council, not to fight back.

"They remain under orders from Xanana Gusmao not to fight, to resist only when attacked, not to take any offensive action," he said.

"They have undertaken some defensive action. They have ambushed some Indonesian convoys, they have captured a lot of weapons."

But Gusmao's Falintil guerrillas had told him the situation was now desperate, with food supplies all but finished.

"So they are appealing for airlifts from Australia of basic foodstuff for the people," he said. "They say, wherever they drop the food supplies by parachute it will benefit the people."

Gusmao was released from Indonesian detention last week following the August 30 UN-administered ballot in which the people of East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence.

He is expected to lead an independent East Timor.

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