Subject: JP: Priests and nuns march in Dili in bid to resume peace
Date: Sat, 15 May 1999 11:24:46 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Jakarta Post 14 May 1999

Priests and nuns march in Dili in bid to resume peace

DILI, East Timor (JP): Catholic priests and nuns joined a huge rally on the streets of Dili on Thursday calling for an end to violence in the province.

Dili Bishop Carlos Ximenes Filipe Belo and Baucau Bishop Basilio do Nascimento led the candlelight vigil including approximately 1,000 residents from the Cathedral to the Balide church. The parade, which took place on the Ascension Day of Jesus Christ, a national holiday, ended late afternoon without incident.

Pleas for peace were made at the rally, after hundreds fled their homes on Sunday following renewed clashes involving prointegration and proindependence groups, followed by more violence on Monday. At least four people were killed and several sustained bullet and slash wounds in the incidents.

On Wednesday the bishops led joint prayers for peace involving Christians, Muslims and Hindus as well as Catholics at Dili's Matahari Terbit Hall.

"Hopefully this parade and yesterday's prayers will make all sides understand and end the use of force and the deaths of victims," a resident said.

On Thursday, most families from Santa Cruz and Bemori subdistricts had left the Dili Police Headquarters where they had joined other refugees fleeing earlier incidents of violence.

However some families were still reluctant to return home, as there were rumors of more attacks by prointegration militia.

In the Wednesday prayers, Belo said: "We know our land was once peaceful... but now it has a history of war, deaths, imprisonment, crying and suffering. Many do not know what is truth and justice... Prevent East Timorese from killing each other, take care of the widows and orphans."

On Tuesday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights chief Mary Robinson, named India's attorney general Soli Sorabjee as her personal envoy to East Timor.

The United Nations Information Center said in a statement on Wednesday that Sorabjee, who is also a former special rapporteur on Nigeria, is due to begin a 10-day trip to Indonesia and the troubled province on Friday.

The envoy is scheduled to meet in Jakarta and Dili with high-level government officials and various nongovernmental organizations and private individuals.

Sorabjee will report to Robinson on the human rights situation in East Timor and make recommendations on immediate and longer-term action to "ameliorate the situation," the statement said.

On Monday, the director of the Asia and Pacific Division of the Department of Political Affairs at the UN, Francesc Vendrell, said the UN mission that will help supervise the ballot on the future status of the province should be fully deployed by mid-June.

He said approximately 600 international staff, including 400 registration and polling officers, as well as civilian police and political advisors would help prepare the ballot of Aug. 8.

A police advance team already in East Timor was expected back in New York next week.

The civilian police would advise the Indonesian Police in East Timor on the maintenance of law and order, which was the responsibility of the Indonesian authorities.

They would also supervise the escorting of ballot boxes and ballot papers to and from the polling stations.

Vendrell said the registration process was to begin in the third week of June.

On May 5, Indonesia and Portugal signed a landmark deal in New York enabling East Timorese to vote whether to choose independence after 24 years of Indonesian rule, or to choose increased autonomy under Indonesia.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last week said he was "gravely concerned" about the recent upsurge in violence here and urged all groups to refrain from force. The agreement cited the condition of security for the UN- conducted ballot.

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