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Pro-democracy faction protests Indonesian invasion of East Timor

Agence France Presse - December 9, 1997

Jakarta – A small pro-democracy group on Tuesday began the second day of a hunger strike to protest at Indonesia's invasion of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975.

"We began our hunger strike at noon yesterday to condemn the New Order's invasion of the Maubere people (of East Timor) and we will strike as long as possible," said Fitria Adiarti, one of the activists.

The New Order refers to the government of President Suharto who became head of state in 1968.

The four men and one woman from the Front Rakyat Indonesia (the Indonesian People's Front) said the strike was being held to mark the 22nd anniversary of the invasion on December 7, 1975.

They were refraining from eating but drank and smoke. The hunger strike was held in the parking lot of the offices of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute, a leading human rights watchdog.

Pro-democracy activists said the invasion damaged the economic, political and humanitarian development of Indonesia as well as the troubled territory. They demanded that East Timor be allowed to become autonomous.

Indonesian unilaterally declared East Timor its 27th province in 1976 in a move never recognized by the United Nations, which still considers Portugal the official administrator of the territory.