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Protests and killings mark November 12

Green Left Weekly - November 19, 1997

Jon Land – More than 1000 East Timorese students staged a peaceful demonstration in Dili on November 12 to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre. The protest was held at the University of East Timor, amidst a heavy security presence.

University students gathered in the university compound from 7am to lay wreaths, light candles and pray. They were remembering the 271 young men and women murdered and the hundreds more wounded by the Indonesian military on November 12, 1991.

The university students were joined by 300 high-school students who had placed candles throughout the suburbs of Becora, Comoro and Matadouro. Classes were cancelled for the day. The Portuguese news service Lusa reported that attendance at the demonstration was "much higher than usual".

The East Timor International Support Centre in Darwin reported on November 13 that a group of East Timorese had been fired upon by soldiers and police when they placed wreaths and lit candles in front of the house of Armindo Mariano, the chairperson of the legislative assembly of East Timor. It is believed that three women were killed and another three seriously wounded (now in hiding).

A women from the United States who took part in a candlelight procession outside the university was detained for "disturbing public order", then deported on November 13. Two students were also arrested near a school on the outskirts of Dili for allegedly calling for attacks on the police.

On November 14, an incident sparked by a confrontation between intelligence officers and students at the university resulted in more students being shot. Amnesty International reported that at least five students with gunshot wounds - one with a life-threatening wound to the neck - were taken to a military hospital, and that another 11 may be in detention. All have been denied access to the Red Cross or legal representation.

On November 3 in Los Palos, youths carrying a banner which read "ABRI [Indonesian Armed Forces], if you do not like our people, go to hell and leave Loro Sae Land [East Timor]" blocked the main road with rocks and burning tyres.

Solidarity actions occurred all over world on November 12 . The East Timor Action Network in Ottawa staged a "trial" of Suharto for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The trial is part of a campaign to prevent Suharto entering Canada to attend the APEC summit in Vancouver from November 20. "Either bar him or put him in jail", stated dissident Indonesian academic George Aditjondro.

In response to an appeal from Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, a number of protests took place outside Australian embassies over Canberra's attempts to deport East Timorese refugees. In Manila, the Philippine Solidarity for East Timor and Indonesia picketed the Australian embassy.

In New Zealand, Alliance foreign affairs spokesperson Matt Robson presented a letter to the Australian embassy calling on Canberra to "honour those who fell at Dili by granting residence to the East Timorese who are seeking refugee status in Australia. In doing so you will honour those East Timorese who protected and assisted the many Australian soldiers who were in East Timor during the Second World War."

Demonstrations in the US and Britain focused on the supply of arms to the Suharto dictatorship. Nine activists, including six East Timorese, entered a British Aerospace factory where they held a memorial service. Actions were also held in Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Ireland and Portugal.