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ETISC: Historic Meeting in Dili, East Timor

Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 10:31:34 +0000
From: "ETISC" <>

Historic Meeting in Dili, East Timor

A report just received by ETISC from reliable sources in Dili, East Timor confirms that a very significant gathering took place there on Saturday 6 June.

A forum on the future of East Timor was held in the meeting place behind the Governor's residence attended by a number of prominent East Timorese and a capacity crowd of about 2,000 invited guests and members of the public, who were described as vocal but well ordered.

Those present included the current Governor Abilio Soares, former Governor (and chair of the meeting) Mario Carrascalao, businessman Manuel Carrascalao and Domingos Soares. The Indonesian appointed 'Roving Ambassador' Francisco Lopez da Cruz was expected but did not appear.

The meeting canvassed a number of options for East Timor's future. Governor Abilio Soares spoke initially supporting autonomy and offered to travel to Jakarta to put the case for this to President Habibie. Observers described the reaction as a roar of jeers accompanied by waving of banners for freedom and a referendum.

The meeting eventually adopted a four point resolution that:

1. Called for the release of all political prisoners, including Xanana. 2. Asked both Indonesia and Portugal to agree to a joint administration for an interim period and the removal of ABRI from East Timor. 3. Requested that the UN send in peacekeeping troops. 4. Preparations be made for a referendum.

The Indonesian armed forces, ABRI, did not interfere in events. Residents have reported that the actions of the Indonesian troops have been moderated since Suharto stepped down and that the International Red Cross have received no reports of arbitrary detentions for three weeks.

The main meeting was one of three meetings held to discuss options for East Timor's future. Another simultaneous meeting discussed the human and business resources available in East Timor and how they might be best utilised in future whilst a meeting at the University campus later involved discussion amongst students about their role and input.

One observer commented that there appeared to be a lot of coordination taking place and that care was being taken to avoid confrontation, noting that it was recognised that the current administrators would continue to be needed to play a role in future developments. He commented that although there was a new sense of freedom in Dili, it appeared that developments were being discussed in a realistic and pragmatic manner.

This is the first time that the population in Dili have been able to participate in an open discussion to canvas future options in such a public forum.

For further comments : Andrew McNaughtan - +61 8 89484458. Ceu Federer - +61 8 89855678 Sonny Imbaraj - +61 8 89855529. East Timor International Support Center

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