DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     June 4, 1998     vol. 9, no. 108

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

EAST TIMOR BISHOP URGES FORGIVENESS, CALLS FOR REFERENDUM

          JAKARTA, Indonesia (CWNews.com) - Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo of Dili joined leading Indonesian opposition figures on Tuesday in calling on the public to stop condemning former Indonesian President Suharto.

          The 1996 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize said it would be unethical for the country to go on condemning its own former leader, pointing out that Suharto would not have stayed as long as he did but for the support of others holding political power.

          Leaders of Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Muslim organization in the country, and the Indonesian Democratic Party have both pleaded for compassion and for the nation to stop haunting the fallen president. In recent weeks, the number of vocal critics of Suharto and his family have been lodging their protests, especially over their lucrative wealth.

          The bishop also called for the removal of elements of the former regime under Suharto's protege, President B.J. Habibie, and added his call for a referendum on East Timor's future. The Indonesian Commission for Human Rights also urged the present government to allow the East Timorese to decide the status of the territory for themselves.

          President Habibie turned away the request, saying mainly Catholic East Timor is integral to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. "There is no need for a referendum. It is Indonesia. And they will enjoy, as the others in Indonesia, the same values and quality of life," Habibie told CNN. "East Timor is an integrated part of the Republic of Indonesia," he said. "We have done more in the last 20 years than the former colonial master has done in the last 400 years." Indonesia invaded the former Portugese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year, in a move not recognized by the United Nations. An active resistance movement continues to fight for Timorese freedom.


Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 4, 1998       volume 9, no. 108
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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