DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     April 9-11, 1999     vol. 10, no. 70

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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BISHOP CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN EAST TIMOR

          ROME, 8 (NE) Bishop Carlos Belo, Apostolic Administrator of Dili, strongly condemned recent manifestations of violence in East Timor. Last Tuesday, anti-independence militiamen backed by the Indonesian army opened fire against a church where 1,500 residents had taken refuge. According to the prelate, at least 25 persons were killed.

          In a press conference held yesterday Bishop Belo asked Indonesian President Habibie to investigate the incident, urging the international community for help to avoid further violence. Last January President Habibie opened the possibility for the independence of East Timor, whose population, catholic in majority, has undergone a tough and constant repression, as well as a religious politics of aggressive proselytism on part of the Muslim government during the years of occupation. It is believed that more than a quarter of the population has died for this reason.

          The President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, declared the Indonesian government responsible for last Tuesday's massacre. "The international community must hold the Indonesian authorities as responsible for the wave of violence against civilians," he stated. East Timor, where approximately 700 000 Catholics live, was originally a Portuguese colony until 1975, year in which it became independent. That same year it was invaded and annexed as the 27th province of Indonesia.

          Last February Bishop Belo asked president Habibie to issue a decree on the situation of Timor. In that occasion the Apostolic Administrator of Dili said that a written presidential decree making explicit that East Timor would become free would help both sides to prepare for independence and avoid further situations of violence


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April 9-11, 1999       volume 10, no. 70
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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