Subject: SCMP: E Timorese search for truth about 'disappeared'

South China Morning Post Wednesday, March 1, 2000

EAST TIMOR

Hundreds search for truth about 'disappeared'

JOANNA JOLLY

Manuel Mira Freitas wants to know the truth about his uncle, one of the thousands of people who disappeared under Indonesian rule.

Yesterday he led 300 protesters who demanded that Jakarta account for East Timorese who disappeared during its 24 years of rule.

They unfurled banners and held up photographs of those who had disappeared.

Mr Freitas' uncle was guerilla army commander David Alex, who was captured by the Indonesian military in 1997.

Although the army alleges that Alex died due to wounds received during his capture, his family believe he may still be alive as they have been offered no proof of his death.

"When he was captured, he was shot in the arm and leg," said Mr Freitas. "But then he just disappeared. The Indonesian army didn't call us in to see him. We think he could still be alive."

Mr Freitas' theory is supported by two sightings of Alex in custody in Dili. Witnesses say they saw Alex in the detention centre which will house the new Indonesian representative office in East Timor.

Mr Freitas called for the cases of all disappeared independence fighters to be investigated and for the Indonesian military commanders responsible to be brought to justice.

President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday invited him to go to Jakarta and meet with a committee on the issue.

Mr Freitas said Mr Wahid was a democrat and that he trusted him, unlike Mr Wahid's predecessors.


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