|=Subject: RT: 1000s rally in E Timor
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 09:38:06 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
May 8, 5:06 a.m. ET
FOCUS-Thousands rally in Timor as UN endorses vote
LIQUISA, East Timor, May 8 (Reuters) - Thousands of pro-Jakarta militiamen staged rallies and handed in arms in troubled East Timor on Saturday, hours after the U.N. Security Council unanimously ratified a deal on an independence vote.
Earlier around 1,000 independence supporters demonstrated for the fifth consecutive day at a Dili university campus, chanting the name of detained guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao.
In Liquisa, where pro-Jakarta forces were accused of massacring at least 25 unarmed civilians last month, members of the Besi Merah Putih (Red and White Iron) militia handed in some 32 guns, most of them homemade. Militia commander Eurico Guterres handed over an assault rifle.
The militiamen marched behind the Indonesian flag and wore headbands in its colours -- red and white. Around 3,000 people were at the rally, a Reuters photographer said, although the militias claimed 5,000.
Guterres said he had told his forces to begin handing in weapons while waiting for the pro-independence Falintil resistance fighters to come down from the central mountains.
``With the autonomy agreement in New York we are now pressing more for peaceful conditions in East Timor and how to disarm the weapons,'' Guterres said. ``I have done this by giving orders to all members across the district to start giving them up while waiting for Falintil to come down from the mountains.''
The weapons were handed in to Indonesia's military commander in Liquisa, 30 km (20 miles) west of Dili. Rallies were also held in the towns of Ainaro and Matatubo in reaction to the U.N. deal, signed by Indonesia and Portugal on Wednesday, militia spokesmen said.
There have been increasing calls for disarmament ahead of the ballot.
Gusmao and exiled independence campaigner and Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta have expressed reservations about the accord, particularly that the United Nations and Portugal had not put more pressure on Indonesia to accept an armed international presence to contain recent violence.
Indonesia has agreed to allow foreign police advisers into the territory. They are due to arrive in May.
Earlier about 200 security forces stood by as independence supporters demonstrated at the University of East Timor for the fifth consecutive day.
Waving pro-independence flags, students and civilians shouted ``Viva Timor Leste'' and ``Viva Xanana Gusmao.''
The U.N.-brokered deal signed between Indonesia and Portugal allows East Timorese to choose between independence and enhanced autonomy within Indonesia in a U.N.-run ballot on August 8.
Gusmao, widely regarded as the most likely leader of an independent East Timor, has said the U.N. agreement was ``no cause for euphoria.''
Pro-Jakarta militias have intensified their campaign of terror and intimidation ahead of the vote, killing dozens in the past few months in attacks on civilians and pro-independence activists.
Dili has become a loyalist stronghold, with independence leaders fleeing or in hiding and militias openly roaming the streets without interference from soldiers or police.
Indonesia's rule of the former Portuguese colony since a bloody 1975 invasion has never been recognised by the United Nations or much of the world community.
Pressed by mounting international condemnation of its often brutal, army-backed rule, Jakarta in January abandoned its blanket opposition to independence and said East Timorese could choose between autonomy and independence.