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Embassy break-in youths meet UN envoy

South China Morning Post - March 26, 1997

Agencies in Jakarta – A group of East Timorese youths gained a meeting with a UN special envoy yesterday after breaking into the Austrian Embassy in Jakarta and demonstrating for self-determination in their homeland.

Three of the youths were taken to meet Jamsheed Marker, the special envoy for East Timor currently visiting Indonesia, at the United Nations offices in Jakarta.

"We have met him and we told him of our aspirations," group spokesman Mariano Sabino Lopez said.

"We do not mean to create hostility against the Indonesian Government but we want a way to open more dialogue on East Timor."

He said the delegation handed over a petition demanding the release of political prisoners in East Timor, the freeing of East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao and a referendum on the territory's future.

A diplomat said the petition accused the Indonesian authorities of genocide in the troubled territory. The statement also condemned the "terror and intimidation used by Indonesian forces" and the authorities' "inflexibility" in finding a solution to the conflict, the diplomat said.

After the 1-hour meeting, Mr Marker would only say he was continuing his work.

Unfurling banners, the protesters had scaled the embassy gate and asked officials to arrange a meeting with Mr Marker.

"We are here, 33 of us, inside the embassy. We want the embassy to become a mediator for us to meet the UN envoy," Mr Lopez said.

"We want to make it clear that we are not seeking asylum. We want to stay here until our demand is met. We may want to stage a hunger strike if necessary."

Seven hours later, the group was still inside the mission although the three who met Mr Marker had returned.

Ambassador Hans Demel said the protesters would stay in the embassy overnight.

Mr Marker arrived in Jakarta last Thursday and spent the weekend in East Timor, where activists' attempts to meet him led to riots in which at least a dozen people were seriously injured.

The envoy, who did not meet the demonstrators on Sunday, was quoted as saying shortly before his departure from Dili he regretted the violence.

Police said 11 people were injured in the melee in which rubber bullets and batons were used.

East Timor independence leader Jose Ramos Horta yesterday accused troops of using gunfire and bayonets to disperse the Dili demonstrators. He claimed 18 people were seriously wounded and there were unconfirmed reports of deaths.