DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN September 17-19, 1999 vol. 10, no. 177
NEWS & VIEWS
AUSTRALIAN AID WORKERS APPEAL FOR EAST TIMOR HELP
SYDNEY, Australia (CWNews.com) - Australia's Caritas Catholic charity called on Thursday for new support for the group's efforts to help East Timor's people as they deal with a genocidal rampage by pro-Indonesia militias.
Aid workers said they believe that many of their Timorese colleagues who ran medical clinics across the Indonesian-controlled territory are dead or have been forced to flee as refugees. Indonesian authorities had also blocked attempts to resupply the clinics with medicines, antibiotics, and other basic medical equipment, they said.
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 thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee the former Portugese colony.
Caritas and the Catholic Church were the main providers of
medical care in East Timor, because local people were too
afraid to attend Indonesian-run hospitals, a Caritas aid
worker said. "We witnessed and now hear with profound grief
and outrage the horrendous brutality occurring there,"
Caritas nurse Cathy Georgeson said. "The East Timorese are
a beautiful and proud people whom we have been privileged
to come to know and love." She added, "They were assured
the UN would stay ... because they voted for independence,
they are now being cruelly and systematically annihilated."
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NEWS & VIEWS