Subject: AP: Timorese protesters demand US apology for '74 invasion

see also the protesters press release and statement.

July 4 2000

Timorese protesters demand US apology for '74 invasion

DILI, East Timor: Dozens of protesters held a candlelight vigil outside the US mission in Dili on Tuesday, demanding an official apology for what they claimed was Washington's complicity in Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975.

"We demand that the United States apologise for what they have done," said protest organiser Nuno Rodriguez, a leading human rights figure in East Timor.

Although the United States never formally recognised Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, critics have accused America of condoning the invasion in which tens of thousands of people were killed.

Vigil
Protesters hold a candlelight vigil outside the U.S. mission in Dili Tuesday July 4, 2000, demanding an official apology for Washington's complicity in Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko) 

The Clinton administration strongly supported moves by the UN last year to organise a referendum in East Timor. When the plebiscite ended with an overwhelming vote to secede from Indonesia, Washington pressed Jakarta to rein in pro-Indonesian militias that laid waste to much of East Timor, but declined to lend ground troops to an international peacekeeping effort.

Washington is the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the half-island territory which is currently under United Nations administration. An official US military mission is working alongside the UN on reconstruction projects.

Rodriguez accused the United States of hypocrisy saying "it gave Indonesia the green light to invade East Timor, but is now playing the hero." The demonstration, organised by a coalition of human rights and labor groups, was staged to coincide with a July 4th reception at the mission.

"It's better to concentrate on the future than rehash the past," said W. Gary Gray, a U.S. diplomat at the reception. (AP)


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