Subject: SCMP: 10,000 Students Rally in Dili As Difiance Grows
Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 05:31:51 -0700 (PDT)
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
East Timor 10,000 students rally over youth's killing by army
JENNY GRANT in Dili In an increased show of force, 10,000 students held a long march through the East Timorese capital Dili yesterday protesting against the military shooting of an East Timorese youth two days earlier.
"Long live a free East Timor," the students yelled as they ran through the city's streets waving banners demanding independence from Indonesia.
Earlier, the protesters buried 21-year-old Herman dos Reis Soares at the Santa Cruz Cemetery then marched 2km to take over the local Parliament building.
The military has apologised for Tuesday's shooting in Manatuto, 50km east of Dili.
"Our people were at fault. There was no reason for shots to be fired since the soldier suspected the victim of stealing wood," said Colonel Mujiono, deputy military commander of East Timor.
The youth died from two gunshot wounds to the stomach. Colonel Mujiono pledged legal action against the soldier.
However, one protester wearing the jacket of the University of East Timor said: "We don't care about the apology. The military always says sorry but then kills our people."
Hundreds of angry residents also demonstrated in Baucau and Manatuto yesterday.
Residents said youths in Manatuto attacked and burned a police post in response to the killing.
"The military suspect he [Soares] was involved in the clandestine movement against Indonesia. It was a political killing," said student leader Antero Benedito da Silva.
Sensing the angry mood, the military kept a low profile at the peaceful day- long protest in Dili.
About 200 riot soldiers armed with guns and shields ran out to protect the local military command building as the marchers passed headquarters.
Students set up in the grounds of the local Parliament as Soares' mother met MPs over her son's murder.
A three-point statement issued by the students called for an independent inquiry into the killing, a UN-sponsored referendum on the future of East Timor and the immediate withdrawal of Indonesian troops from the territory.
There are an estimated 15,000 troops stationed in East Timor, which Indonesia invaded in 1975.
The students sang songs in the local Tetum language against the Government and called former president Suharto a murderer.
Students said the murder was their final excuse to move off the campus after protests there demanded a referendum last week.
The march was the largest street gathering since Dili's Bishop Belo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. --------------------------------------------------- Friday June 19 1998
East Timor Mood of defiance grows and spreads
JENNY GRANT A new mood of defiance is sweeping through the poverty-stricken territory.
Locals say the demise of the Suharto regime has set the ball in motion and it's rolling towards autonomy.
Student leader Antero Benedito da Silva said East Timorese had to capitalise on the change.
"The Suharto regime has collapsed so we have to do something in this new atmosphere.
"The people are not scared to say they want independence through a referendum," he said. The elated but exhausted student leader has led rallies for the past two days and says he will keep up the pace until there is change.
"We have stopped our studies. Maybe now we will find a new way to learn on the streets," said Mr da Silva.
Hotel manager Antony said the changes to his business were already noticeable. More foreign journalists were allowed to stay at his seaside motel and there were fewer intelligence agents hanging around in the foyer.
"Give them a referendum, I say. What harm can it do?" said the businessman who admits he used to be more conservative. Even the wife of a cassava farmer in Liquisa, 30km east of Dili, said the mood had changed.
"Free East Timor," whispered a grinning Florentina from her mud-floored kitchen. She had heard "on the network" that students were holding demonstrations in Dili and she supported them.
Back at the rally, University of East Timor student Maria said she could not believe how soft the military reaction had been.
"We could never talk this openly before Suharto stepped down." she said.
TAPOL, Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Defending the rights of the victims of Indonesian oppression in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh.