Subject: East Timor Marks Anniversary Of Independence Declaration

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

East Timor Marks Anniversary Of Independence Declaration

DILI, East Timor, Nov. 28 (AP) -- With East Timor due to become the world's newest nation in six months, hundreds of people rallied Wednesday to mark the territory's first declaration of independence 26 years ago.

Waving East Timorese flags, about 500 people listened to speeches by leading politicians before raising their fists in salute East Timor's largest political party, Fretilin.

The anniversary marks the day Fretilin leaders declared East Timor independent - November 28, 1975 - following the withdrawal of Portuguese colonizers. However, independence was to be short lived. Nine days later, neighboring Indonesia invaded to begin a 24-year long brutal occupation.

Indonesia ruled East Timor until its people voted overwhelmingly for freedom in a U.N.-sponsored referendum in August 1999.

The United Nations, which now administers the embryonic nation, has said East Timor will become fully independent on May 20, 2002.

Meanwhile, East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao met with about 1,000 East Timorese refugees in Indonesian West Timor on Wednesday and encouraged them to return home.

"I call on all the refugees to come home to East Timor peacefully," he said. "We have to build our country together."

About 50,000 refugees are still in West Timor after fleeing their homes amid the post-independence ballot violence in 1999. About 200,000 others have already returned.

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