Subject: E. Timorese remember dead of independence struggle at massacre site

East Timorese remember dead of independence struggle at massacre site

DILI, East Timor, Nov 2 (AFP) - Thousands of East Timorese Tuesday packed Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery, where Indonesian troops massacred around 150 civilians in 1991, to commemorate the victims of the independence struggle.

The crowd began arriving before dawn and by the time mass began at 6:00a.m. the cemetery was jammed with people who had come to place bright bougainvilla blossoms on graves.

Some were marked with proper gravestones and crosses, many bearing the word "assassinado" (murdered) above the date of the death.

Other graves were marked with simple piles of stones with no names. On many of the smallest graves belonging to infants empty feeding bottles had been placed among the flowers.

It was at Santa Cruz cemetery on November 12, 1991 that more than 150 East Timorese were killed when Indonesian troops opened fire on a march after an independence flag was waved.

Television footage of the massacre was smuggled out of the territory and helped put Indonesia's occupation of East Timor back on the international agenda.

But this year the commemoration was marked by a sense of hope that East Timorese could put the bloody history of the past 24 years of Indonesian military occupation behind them.

Just two days ago the last Indonesian troops left the territory, which voted nearly four-to-one for independence in an August 30 UN-sponsored ballot.

The vote sparked a calculated wave of killing and destruction by Indonesian army-backed militias wanting to remain under Jakarta's rule.

The people gathered here under the brutal tropical sun said they felt a mixture of sadness for the dead, anger at the military and happiness that East Timor had achieved freedom.

"I am here for my family and for the people who died in the November massacre, and for everybody who died," said a 25-year-old man named Bruno.

"I am happy for East Timor but I am still very angry with the TNI (Indonesian army) who killed everybody. And I am still afraid that the militia are around."

The cemetery is crammed with graves, separated by such narrow strips it is difficult to walk, and there is no room left for new bodies.

Across the road the Indonesian cemetery stands in stark contrast to Santa Cruz. It was practically empty of people save for a 20-year-old woman named Flora and her four young cousins.

Significantly the Indonesian military stopped burying bodies here in 1991, the same year as the Santa Cruz massacre, and while a handful of graves are strewn with fresh flowers most of the the predominantly Moslem graves of Indonesian soldiers lay unattended.

Flora said she had come to place flowers on the grave of her father, an East Timorese who died while serving with the TNI in 1981. He is one of around 100 East Timorese buried alongside a couple of hundred Indonesian soldiers.

"I feel sad now that the TNI has left this country and my father died for them, but I think the country with be better now they have gone," said Flora after saying prayers.

Asked how she felt about having her father buried side by side with Indonesian soldiers, Flora said: "We hope we can move him across the road to Santa Cruz cemetery."

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed the territory the following year in a move never recognised by the United Nations.


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