Timor Remembers Santa Cruz Victims, Calls For Probe
November 10, 2003
Received from Joyo Indonesian News
November 12, 2003
E Timor Remembers Santa Cruz Victims, Calls For Probe
DILI, East Timor (AP)--Thousands of people gathered Wednesday to remember the victims of one of East Timor's worst massacres under Indonesian rule with a moment of silence and flowers as well as demands for an investigation to find the perpetrators.
The Nov. 12, 1991, massacre of more than 200 people at the Santa Cruz cemetery in the capital Dili was secretly caught on video and broadcast around the world. It galvanized opposition to Indonesia's brutal 24-year rule of East Timor that ended eight years later with U.N. intervention.
"Today we are here to remember the martyrs, the heroes who gave their lives for the liberation of this nation," Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta told a crowd of nearly 3,000.
"Young people should prepare themselves to study and work hard to build this country and continue the struggle that has been laid by the heroes," he said.
Nov. 12 was declared a national holiday in East Timor and all government offices were closed.
During an emotional ceremony, the nation's flag was raised to honor the Santa Cruz victims followed by a one-minute moment of silence.
The crowd - mostly young people and relatives of the victims - then marched to the nearby Santa Cruz cemetery. Officials laid flowers at the site of the massacre and families called for justice for their loved ones.
Dressed in black, many of the mourners carried banners that called for the U.N. to set up a tribunal to investigate the killings.
More than 200 people were killed at the Santa Cruz cemetery, after soldiers shot into a crowd that was protesting the killing of a pro-independence activist by the military.
The event symbolized Indonesia's ruthless occupation of East Timor that started with an invasion in 1975 and ended in 1999, when Indonesian troops and their proxy militias killed 1,500 and destroyed much of the half-island after voters approved an independence referendum.
Indonesia set up its own rights court to investigate the 1999 violence that ended only after the deployment of an Australia-led foreign peacekeeping force.
The Indonesian court has been widely condemned as a sham, convicting only six of 18 Indonesian government and military officials. All remain free pending their appeals.
The court's mandate didn't include the 1991 killings and none of those convicted was linked to the Santa Cruz massacre.