Subject: RT: Belo urges UN visit be delayed
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 08:34:40 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
FOCUS-U.N. envoy urged to delay visit to E.Timor 03:17 a.m. Jul 15, 1998 Eastern
JAKARTA, July 15 (Reuters) - Nobel laureate Bishop Carlos Belo has urged a U.N. observer to postpone a visit to East Timor amid reports from residents on Wednesday of rising tension in the Indonesian-ruled territory.
Belo, the charismatic spiritual leader of East Timor, was quoted by the official Antara news agency on Wednesday as saying the planned visit next week by U.N. envoy Jamsheed Marker could further inflame passions.
``I request Ambassador Jamsheed Marker postpone his visit because the political situation and social unruliness are heating up in anticipation of his arrival. It is barely possible to rein in the pro- and anti-integration groups,'' he was quoted as saying.
``If possible, it would be better for Ambassador Marker to postpone his arrival to September or October. What is the use of his visit if the East Timorese people themselves are in conflict?'' Antara quoted Belo as saying.
Residents said the Indonesian army had stepped up patrols in Dili in an apparent attempt to prevent fresh anti-Indonesia protests ahead of Friday's anniversary of Jakarta's annexation of the former Portuguese colony.
They said an exodus of non-East Timorese, mainly ethnic Javanese and Bugis from South Sulawesi, had subsided, but economic activity had almost come to a halt with many shops closing down just before dawn for fear of disturbances.
``People are afraid to go out because there are many military men out there patrolling the city. We are scared we will be questioned. Shops are closed before dawn and then Dili turns into a ghost town,'' one resident told Reuters by telephone.
Other residents said there were unconfirmed reports of arrests of youths by the military in Dili.
Military officers in the city of 130,000 people said all was calm on Wednesday.
Local government officials estimated up to 15,000 people, including small traders, civil servants and their families had fled to the enclave of Atambua on their way to the West Timor capital of Kupang carrying their household and personal belongings.
Indonesia invaded East Timor, a territory of 800,000 people, in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognised by the United Nations.
The territory came to widespread international attention in 1991 when Indonesian troops shot dead at least 180 people in Dili after the funeral of an anti-Indonesian activist, according to human rights activists.
Indonesia's official inquiry said 50 unarmed protesters were killed.
East Timor was rocked last month by demonstrations opposing Indonesian rule and clashes between groups for and against Jakarta. At least three people died.
U.N. envoy Marker is scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Thursday to discuss Portugal's response to an Indonesian initiative to grant East Timor special status if its sovereignty over the region is internationally recognised.
Officials had earlier said his visit would include a visit to Dili.
An Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that plans for Marker to visit Dili had not been finalised.
Marker is U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's special envoy on East Timor and he has been shuttling between Lisbon and Jakarta in a bid to find a solution for the territory.