DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     December 2, 1999     vol. 10, no. 229

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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        DILI, East Timor (CWNews.com) - Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta returned to East Timor on Wednesday after 24 years of exile to the cheers of thousands who turned out to greet him.

        The resistance leader, who won the Peace Prize along with the Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili in 1997, left the former Portuguese colony in 1975, just days before invasion by neighboring Indonesia. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, invaded mainly Catholic East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. In August, the region held a Jakarta-proposed referendum to allow Timorese to choose either autonomy within Indonesia or full independence. After the pro-independence results were revealed, pro-Indonesia militias, armed and backed by Indonesia's military, went on a rampage, killing hundreds and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee the former Portuguese colony.

        "My first words are words of gratitude, words of thanks, of sincere thanks to each and all of you," Ramos-Horta said, addressing a crowd of 5,000 from the governor's palace. "The people of East Timor will rebuild this country from ashes of destruction. I did not come today, to arrive here after 24 years with my colleagues ... to teach a lesson to anyone because the true heroes are those who stayed behind, they are the ones who suffered, they are the ones who were tortured ... they are the ones who were killed."

        Ramos-Horta also called for reconciliation with the perpetrators of the violence. "We must also forgive, so we require courage, there can no longer be enemies within the East Timorese families," he said. "Too many lives have been lost, we pray to you, our great Catholic Church ... in the darkest hours of our history it was this Church that stood alongside the people of East Timor."

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 2, 1999       volume 10, no. 229


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