Subject: AFP: East Timorese Prisoners End 16-day Hunger Strike
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 14:06:27 +0100 (BST)
From: hops <>

East Timorese prisoners end 16-day hunger strike

Tue 15 Sep 98 - 12:05 GMT

JAKARTA, Sept 15 (AFP) - Twenty six inmates of a jail in East Timor have ended a hunger strike they started 16 days ago to demand the release of rebel leader Xanana Gusmao, a prison official said Tuesday.

"The prisoners decided to stop the strike but they still refuse to eat prison food, agreeing only to eat food sent by their families," Litu Ximenes, a jail warden at the Becora state prison in the East Timor capital of Dili, told AFP by telephone.

During the strike, which started with only 14 participants on August 31, the inmates were being fed intravenously by a doctor as they refused to eat or drink.

Two of the inmates were taken to Dili's Wirahusada military hospital but they had since returned to the jail where they continued the hunger strike.

Ximenes said the 26 were still calling for Gusmao's release.

In a joint statement, they said the strike was "postponed indefinitely" until they receive an answer from Indonesians Justice Minister Muladi, the state Antara news agency reported.

Gusmao is serving a 20-year term in Jakarta's Cipinang prison.

He was captured in 1992 and later jailed for life for plotting against the state and possession of illegal weapons. The sentence was commuted by former president Suharto.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975 and annexed the territory a year later in a move never recognized by the United Nations and most states.

UN-sponsored talks between Jakarta and Lisbon, which severed ties with Indonesia shortly after the invasion, to seek a settlement over East Timor have dragged on since 1983.

Since the fall of Suharto on May 21, the new Indonesian government has released about 70 political prisoners, including East Timorese, but excluding Gusmao.

Jakarta has said it was only willing to free Gusmao, 52, as part of an acceptable solution in East Timor.

It has also offered to grant autonomy to the territory in return for international recognition of Indonesian sovereignty, but Gusmao has insisted autonomy would be meaningless unless Indonesia allow a referendum on self- determination.

Indonesia and Portugal are currently discussing Jakarta's proposal for autonomy.

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, 8 Hop Gardens London WC2N 4EH Tel: 171 497 5355 Fax: 171 4975313 Email: Defending the rights of the victims of oppression in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

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