Subject: Lusa: Dili Recalls First Anniversary of Terror

East Timor: Dili Recalls First Anniversary of Terror 5 Sept-16:22

Residents of the East Timor capital Dili held candlelight vigils Monday night to recall the terror campaign unleashed one year ago after the territory voted for independence in a UN-supervised plebiscite.

The result of the Aug. 30, 1999, ballot was announced the following Sept. 4, confirming that an overwhelming majority (79 percent) of East Timorese had voted for independent statehood and against autonomy with Indonesia.

The several hours of calm that followed announcement of the ballot result was shattered later in the day by the start of a violent backlash by anti-independence militias backed and the Indonesian military. The terror campaign lasted several weeks, and was only brought to a halt by the arrival of international troops on Sept. 20 and the departure of Indonesian occupation troops in October.

Leandro Isaac, a leading member of the CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance), told Lusa late Monday that while the East Timorese mourned those killed in the violence, Sept. 4 was a day of commemoration.

"We are free and with these festivities we will think of tomorrow, how to serve this people, those who are alive," Isaac said, recalling that "today we don't have to be afraid of Indonesian secret agents or the militias."

"The candles serve to remember all those who fell for freedom, who unfortunately cannot be with us today," he added.

Isaac was among thousands of Dili residents who took refuge in the hills outside Dili as the city was systematically torched in the violent aftermath of the plebiscite. "When I returned, my house was in ruins," he told Lusa.

Elsewhere in Dili, small crowds of people gathered at landmarks such as the Santa Cruz cemetery, considered a symbolic marker of resistance to the 24-year Indonesian occupation.

East Timor has been governed since October by a UN transition administration charged with preparing the half-island for full independence.

JBC -Lusa

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