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Pro-independence demo in Dili

Jawa Pos - February 1, 1999 (summarised)

A pro-independence demo in Dili called on people to remain calm in welcoming the Indonesian govt's announcement about independence for Timor. It was organised by the Timor Socialist Party (PST - known also by its Portuguese initials as AST), the Democratic Republic Party of E Timor PRD (the similarity in initials with the Indonesian PRD is probably not accidental), and Activists for an Independent East Timor APKT.

The demonstrators called for calm and said Timorese should continue with their normal activities, and do nothing to disrupt security. After listening to speakers at the Santa Cruz cemetery, the participants marched round the city.

Before dispersing, a statement was read out by Matias Duarte which said that the Indonesian govt's announcement was to be welcomed and was in accord with Indonesia's 1945 Constitution and the political struggle of the Maubere people. It said the 23-year struggle of the Timorese people had not been for autonomy or a referendum but for independence. It also said that people from outside the country did not need to rush to leave Timor. Their safety will be guaranteed by pro-independence groups as long as they did not allow themselves to be used by other forces.

Unfortunately, the demonstrators were not received by the CNRT and other related groups such as the Students Solidarity Council, the youth organisation Ojetil, Forsarepetil (of govt employees and intellectuals) all of which have branches in all the 13 districts of the country.

The day before, the CNRT distributed a leaflet calling on people not to demonstrate. A CNRT leader said the demonstration had been conducted by frustrated people who did not follow the line of the CNRT leader, Xanana Gusmao. He said that in the present circumstances, there was no point any more in holding demonstrations.

A spokesperson for one of the (most notorious) militia, Gadapaksi, Antonio, said his group will not hold a counter demonstration. "This doesnt mean that we support independence. We stand firmly in support of integration with Indonesia forever. We say to the pro-independence groups that they should not engage in brutal activities which disrupt the pro-integration forces and the people from outside. If they ignore this warning, we will respond with weapons," he said.

Dr Basilio de Araujo, who chairs the Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice which supports integration said that the pro-integration groups have about 10,000 weapons, at least five hundred in each of the districts. He said these weapons were from the former Portuguese army so its not correct to say that they were given out by ABRI. We have these weapons, he said, only for purposes of self-defence.

Second Dare Dialogue A second Dare Dialogue is being planned in the very near future, to be sponsored by the two bishops, Carlos Belo and Basilio Nascimento. This follows on the First Dare Dialogue last September which produced an 11-point declaration, bringing together all diverse groups in the country. Governor Abilio Soares said he would contact the two bishops urging them to convene this second Dare Dialogue to bring together the different perceptions held by differeign groups. He said he hoped the dialogue would be convened as soon as possible.

Suara Pembaruan - February 3, 1999

Members of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, led by Louis Joinet, met Xanana Gusmao in Cipinang Prison yesterday. The WGAD wanted to learn about the prison conditions and the plans to move Xanana to another place of detention. (They also met with other political prisoners in Cipinang Prison.)

Meanwhile Lt-General Sugiono, ABRI General Chief-of Staff welcomed the statement by Xanana that he was willing for his followers to laid down their arms, because ABRI does not want any more chaos or loss of life. "We want to do the same thing," he said. "The Commander in chief has also said that we would like to lay down our weapons. There are weapons in all the Kodims, but we withdrew our weapons and then what happened? We were heavily attacked in Alas."

He's not the only one who wants an end to armed conflict, said Sugiono of Xanana. "That's been our intention for ages but because the GPD (ie Falintil) are armed and our men were kidnapped and disarmed, we have no alternative to retain our weapons," he said.

In Dili There were no further demonstrations, though crowds of youths were gathered near the cemetery, sitting on the walls.

The CNRT gave a press conference last night in which it rejected any form of demonstration, in keeping with the wishes of its leader Xanana Gusmao who is only in favour of dialogue and reconciliation.

David Ximenes, chair of the CNRT Political Committee, who was accompanied by Manuel Carrascalao, said it could not endorse the actions of groups unfurling the banners of their parties because this could be seen as a form of pressure on groups that are in favour of integration and autonomy.

The CNRT called on all youth groups not to demonstrate because this would not solve anything. The CNRT will in the very near future hold discussions with pro-integration and pro-autonomy groups to find the best way to create an atmosphere of harmony.

A Falintil leader in the bush broadcast a statement on the Diocese Radio calling on the Indoneian army to speedily withdraw all weapons that have been given out to civlians in Timor because this could lead to conflict.

The message, read out in Tetum by deputy commander Faluk, said that if ABRI failed to disarm these groups, Falintil would take large-scale military action because they could not stand by and see the Timorese people suffer. But if ABRI disarms these groups, Falintil will lay down its arms and enter into dialogue to create a peaceful situation.

The deputy commander of Korem Wira Dharma, Col Mujiono said in a meeting with district chiefs that weapons had been given out not for the purpose of killing people or taking actions outside the procedures but for self-defence. Some members of society felt that they were being targetted by their rivals and had come (to the military) asking for weapons. He said that other groups had also come to Korem asking for weapons but they had been refused.