Subject: AFP - Bishop cautions East Timorese demonstrators to stay peaceful: report
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 11:27:48 +0100
From: "Paula Carvalho Pinto" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A. FRANCE PRESS Bishop cautions East Timorese demonstrators to stay peaceful: report
JAKARTA, Oct 13 (AFP) - East Timorese Bishop Carlos Belo has "no objections" to the mass protests underway for the past three days in East Timor to demand the ouster of the Indonesian-appointed governor there, the state news agency Antara said Tuesday. But Antara quoted the 1996 Nobel laureate as cautioning the demonstrators to keep the protests peaceful and not to "ruin economic activities" in the former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1976. "That is why under these circumstances, social figures should wisely and immediately respond to the people's aspirations and study them for a better life," Antara quoted Belo as saying.
Tens of thousands of East Timorese took to the streets of the territory's main town of Dili Sunday and Monday, demanding that Jakarta-appointed Governor Jose Osorio Abilio Soares step down for threatening to fire civil servants unless they endorse an Indonesian proposal of autonomy for the territory. Witnesses said the territory's 15,000 civil servants, who had first led a "silent" stay-at-home strike on Saturday, failed to turn up for work except in essential services such as hospitals and telephone switchboards. Buses stopped running, shops downed shutters and schools were closed, but no violence was reported, the witnesses told AFP late Monday from Dili.
Since 1983 the issue of East Timor's independence has been discussed with the Indonesian and Portuguese governments under the auspices of the United Nations. The two parties are currently discussing a Jakarta autonomy offer, which jailed East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao has said would only be acceptable if it were a transitional step towards a referendum on self-determination. kw/bs/sjc