DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     September 3-5, 1999     vol. 10, no. 167

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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INDONESIA ARMY DESTABILIZING EAST TIMOR, JESUIT SAYS

        DILI (CWNews.com/Fides) - There is a military plan behind the decline of security and stability in East Timor, according to a Timorese Jesuit, Father Edu Ratu-Dopo, headmaster of St Joseph's School in Dili, speaking to the Fides news agency.

        The school at present houses 1000 Timorese refugees, displaced from their homes by anti-independence militias, armed and trained by Indonesia's military. 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. On August 31, East Timor held a referendum on the territory's future: whether to seek independence or greater autonomy within Indonesia.

        "Pro-independence activists deny they are involved in recent rioting with pro-Indonesia militia: this is a clear signal" said Father Ratu-Dopo. He pointed out that the "riots began after the referendum which took place with relative peace and calm." He added, "Now the future of the island is in danger because the pro-Indonesian factions will never accept the defeat of the referendum."

        According to the Jesuit, the Indonesian army has orchestrated efforts to destabilize the territory and legitimize its presence. "Within the independence forces there is a fringe of socialist orientation which has detached itself from the official organization of the National Council for East Timor. The army led infiltration of Indonesian paramilitary groups with the precise intention of creating disorder on the island."

        As a confirmation of Father Ratu-Dopo's statement, the independent Observer Kipper newspaper, always critical of the military, affirmed that some new generals and senior police officers have arrived in East Timor with political objectives which are not those proclaimed by the government. Indonesia's military has been critical of the Jakarta government's offer of autonomy or independence to East Timor.

        Meanwhile, pro-Jakarta militia control the island and continue to sow terror, attacking and burning the homes of independence supporters. UN officials pleaded with Jakarta to provide better protection for observers after three UN workers were killed near their compound in Dili.


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September 3-5, 1999       volume 10, no. 167
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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