Subject: AFP: Thousands of Timorese rally in support for autonomy under Indonesia
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:43:17 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Thousands of Timorese rally in support for autonomy under Indonesia

JAKARTA, April 26 (AFP) - Thousands of East Timorese on Monday rallied in a district town in the former Portuguese colony to pledge their allegiance to the Republic of Indonesia, a police official said.

The officer in Ermera, some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) southwest of East Timor's main city of Dili, said 6,000 pro-Indonesia individuals gathered at the town's main "17 July Gleno" open field for the pledge.

"There is a statement from the people of Ermera, pledging their allegiance to the Republic of Indonesia," Second Lieutenant Eko told AFP by phone.

The head of district and other higher ranking Indonesian officials did not attend the rally, which started at 11:00 a.m. (0300 GMT) and was described as "spontaneous" by the police officer.

However, a member of the Foundation for Human Rights and Justice in Dili, Ruis Perreira, said that the meeting was the mass installation of a civilian security militia.

Violence between pro-Indonesia and pro-independence groups has risen following Jakarta's announcement in January that it may grant East Timor independence if the people there rejected a broad autonomy package.

The foreign ministers of Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan last Friday agreed on an autonomy package for East Timor proposed by Jakarta.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year without the recognition of the United Nations which still views Lisbon as the official administrator of its former territory.

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