Subject: IO: East Timor must not be new Kosovo, says Bishop Belo
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:51:04 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Indonesian Observer

05th April 1999 Nation East Timor must not be new Kosovo, says Bishop Belo

JAKARTA (IO) — Dili Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has demanded an end to fighting in East Timor, to prevent the former Portuguese colony from becoming another Kosovo.

"All of us have the duties to maintain the structure of society in such ways that could prevent East Timor from turning into Kosovo, which is torn in pieces," Belo was quoted as saying by Antara yesterday.

He was addressing a crowd of 1,000 Roman Catholics who had gathered outside his residence to celebrate Easter Sunday.

"We are very saddened with the war and the flow of refugees in the region, we shall pray for East Timor not to be like that," Belo said.

"What’s happening in Kosovo shows us that egotistical humans think only of power," he added.

The bishop insisted that East Timor can avoid a similar fate if its people would throw down their weapons and hold talks.

Tensions in the troubled territory of 800,000 people have been on the rise since Jakarta abruptly announced in January that it may grant independence if its offer of wide-ranging autonomy is rejected in a vote due in July.

Belo announced that he and fellow Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento would today start a reconciliation dialog between pro- and anti-Indonesia groups in the region.

"We would restart a second phase of reconciliation dialog comprising political elites from both sides to earn peace and mutual understanding between the groups who have been fighting," he said.

The bishop also called on both groups to stop their intimidation and armed conflict because it would not solve the territory’s problems.

Belo told the congregation to prepare carefully for the direct ballot that will determine the future of the impoverished territory.

"Think wisely of the consequences of your vote, whether you accept or reject the wide-ranging autonomy. Your votes will usher in a new history for the fate of the people living in this region," he said.

Earlier, thousands of Christians from various parts of East Timor and neighboring province East Nusa Tenggara celebrated Good Friday by paying a visit to the Jesus Christ statue on the top Fatucama Hill in Dili.

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