Subject: SMH: Belo backs popular insurrection after 25 massacred
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 1999 09:50:42 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:


Sydney Morning Herald 08/04/99

Belo's call to arms after 25 massacred

By LINDSAY MURDOCH, Herald Correspondent in Liquisa, East Timor

The head of the Catholic Church in East Timor, Bishop Carlos Belo, last night backed a call for a popular insurrection in the former Portuguese colony after Indonesian-backed militia massacred at least 25 Timorese villagers on Tuesday.

Shocked and angry church officials in Dili said last night the total number of deaths could be more than 40.

The massacre, at a priest's house in the town of Liquisa, 40 kilometres west of the capital, Dili, followed an earlier call by the Timorese guerilla leader Xanana Gusmao for an end to the truce between Timorese struggling for independence and the Indonesian Government.

Priests told last night how the victims were either hacked to death or shot by the militia after staggering from the home of Father Rafael dos Santos when Indonesian security forces fired tear gas into it.

Father Rafael said the people who had taken shelter in his house were wiping their eyes and confused from the tear gas when they walked into the attacking militia.

The victims had run into his house fleeing security forces who were firing weapons in the air, he said. Indonesian troops had stood back from the militia and looked on while the killings took place.

Speaking from his home in Dili, Bishop Belo said the massacre made him ashamed to be an Indonesian citizen.

"It was barbaric and takes us back to the Middle Ages."

Asked about Gusmao's call for a popular insurrection, Bishop Belo said: "My only comment is ... now there is proof, the Liquisa massacre case is proof, that [Gusmao] is right."

Bishop Belo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said after visiting Liquisa yesterday that Indonesian military officers had given him a paper proving that people had been killed in the massacre, the worst in the former Portuguese territory since hundreds of mourners were gunned down at the Santa Cruz cemetery in 1991.

Bodies were found in a church courtyard and scores more were injured, many of them seriously, he said.

Witnesses said a 500-strong militia group used homemade rifles, swords, machetes and other crude weapons in the attack, which happened shortly before midday.

They feared the massacre would plunge East Timor into a vicious cycle of violence likely to sabotage a scheduled vote on the territory's future in July.

About 2,000 mostly pro-independence villagers sought refuge at the church after attacks by pro-integration militia over several days, the witnesses said. The church where the attack took place is less than 100 metres from the headquarters of dozens of Indonesian soldiers based in Liquisa.

The militia in Liquisa have taken away the bodies of people killed in Tuesday's attack and are apparently refusing to allow many of the wounded to travel to Dili for treatment.

Trembling and carrying a suitcase with her only possessions, a woman who gave her name as Anita said: "The men were killed ... I ran away."

Most of the villagers were too scared to talk.

Hundreds of villagers, some of them with head and other wounds, have fled the area in buses and trucks, while dozens more, too scared to return to their homes, have been made refugees in their own town.

Indonesia has repeatedly claimed that its armed forces in the province would remain neutral and help secure a free and fair vote on Jakarta's offer of wide-ranging autonomy. • Ethnic and religious clashes killed up to 15 people in two other areas of Indonesia, witnesses and local media reported yesterday. Fighting between Christians and Muslims claimed 12 lives in the far eastern Moluccas late on Tuesday, and police reportedly shot dead at least three people when they fired on a crowd in Borneo's Sambas region.

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