Subject: LUSA: Ex-Resistance Fighter Says Uphill Struggle Ahead on Women`s Rights

15-05-2002 21:35:00 GMT Invalid Hora local. Notícia 3661068

East Timor: Ex-Resistance Fighter Says Uphill Struggle Ahead on Women`s Rights

East Timor has traditionally been a patriarchal society with limited opportunities for women, but Maria Domingas, an ex-guerilla, says that it is now necessary to "start from scratch" in the struggle for equality between the sexes.

Domingas fought in Timor`s mountains against the Indonesian army, later working for the occupying administration in the territory and sending food to her FRETILIN guerilla comrades via a "cover" organization.

Nowadays, she acts as a government adviser on the promotion of equality and also heads FOKUPERS, a women`s rights group and the organization she secretely used to channel supplies to independence fighters from 1997 onwards.

"In the bush, I learnt to have consciousness and my own identity as a Timorese woman. It was there I realized we are all equal and that there are no differences between the children of "liurais" (powerful families) and others", Domingas told Lusa this week.

At the age of 15, Domingas was studying in Dili when her father, a member of the UDT which supported gradual autonomy from Portugal following the 1974 overthrow of the Lisbon dictatorship, was arrested by FRETILIN.

The subsequent Indonesian invasion forced her to flee to the mountains where she came into contact with the resistance for the first time.

As FRETILIN was severely short of recruits, Domingas was invited to join the guerrillas. She soon married a comrade and the couple were later captured and interrogated by Indonesian forces.

Domingas and her husband were released but obliged to present themselves to Dili authorities regularly. Her husband was given a ten- year prison sentence in the aftermath of the Santa Cruz cemetery massacre and Indonesian crackdown on the independence movement.

Domingas is bitter about Jakarta`s iron rule of Timor and says one of her five children was deliberately killed in hispital with an overdose of medication, as part of an Indonesian campaign to control the Timorese birth rate.

The Timorese women`s rights activist says the future, for her, "is a big problem" and a new struggle is only just beginning.

"Changing mentalities is a very difficult process", said Domingas, who remains skeptical that oil and gas reserves will be a panacea for all Timor`s problems.

CJB/FP -Lusa-

15-05-2002 17:44:00 GMT Invalid Hora local. Notícia 3659807 Temas: East Timor: Coordinated Development Needed to Avoid Resource Waste - Ramos Horta

To avoid duplication of efforts in the implementation of East Timor`s development it is vital that the Dili government cooperates closely with United Nations agencies and international organizations, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta said Wednesday.

Ramos Horta told Lusa that development projects in Timor needed to be coordinated with the Dili govrenments National Development Plan to avoid a waste of resources.

The Timorese diplomat said the intervention of the UN and international nongovernmental organizations in his country in 1999 had been "swift and thorough" and applied throughout the territory.

The reduction of the international presence in Timor will have positive consequences, Ramos Horta said, as populations will move back to the country.

"Agricultural areas are showing signs of recovery, and agriculture is reaching the levels on 1998-9.

"I hope that the reduction of the presence forces the population to return to rural areas and encourages relief of the demographic pressure on Dil", said Ramos Horta.

CJB/ASP -Lusa-

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