Subject: AFP: Independence activist flees East Timor, as rivals plan show of force
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 08:58:10 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Independence activist flees East Timor, as rivals plan show of force

DILI, East Timor, April 29 (AFP) - A leading pro-independence activist fled the troubled territory of East Timor in fear of his life Thursday as pro-Indonesia militias vowed to hold another show of force.

Manuel Carrascalao, whose son was killed by pro-Indonesian militia earlier this month, said he feared for his family's safety and would only return when a UN police force was in place.

As he flew out of Dili's Comoro heavily-secured airport with his daughter and seven other relatives, pro-Indonesian activists from the territory's 13 districts gathered in a hotel here to form a new united front.

The new front said it would hold its first congress in Dili Friday, as fellow pro-intergationists announced a 3,000-strong show of force in the town of Atabae, also on Friday.

Flying with Carrascalao in the same plane out of Dili were Portugal's envoy to Jakarta Ana Gomes and Belgian Ambassador to Indonesia, Luk Darras, who had both been in Dili since Tuesday.

"I don't feel too good about my security there (Jakarta) and if necessity dictates, I will seek a temporary asylum in Australia until I can return here when the situation is more secure," Carrascalao told AFP.

An Australian embassy spokesman in Jakarta told AFP that it was not embassy policy to make public cases of asylum seekers.

The "East Timor People's Front," was put together by Jakarta-appointed Governor Jose Osorio Abilio Soares and Indonesia's Ambassador on East Timor, Fransisco Lopes da Cruz, whose brother was killed by separatist rebels earlier this month.

"This organisation will unite all pro-integration factions to work for the autonomy option to suceed, as the ...compromise solution between the two camps involved in the conflict," da Cruz said.

Da Cruz said the front was needed to forge "a common language, vision, perception and steps" ahead of the UN-sponsored ballot set for August 8 and "to make" the autonomy option acceptable to all or the majority in East Timor.

"With the autonomy ...nobody will lose," he said.

Carrascalao had been staying at East Timor police headquarters since pro-Indonesian militias attacked his refugee-packed house and killed 12 people there, including his adopted son, during an unchecked rampage in Dili on April 17.

Despite the loss, Carrascalao signed a peace pact with representatives of rival pro-Indonesian factions on April 21 to reduce the violence ahead of a proposed referendum on autonomy.

Carrascalao's younger brother, presidential advisor and former East Timor governor Mario Viegas Carrascalao, has already sought refuge in Portugal. He arrived in Lisbon with his family on Wednesday.

Mario said he too feared for his family's safety and that his name was on a death-list prepared by pro-Indonesian militia squads in East Timor.

Gomes said before leaving she believed "the situation now is much more complicated, much more serious than it was one month ago. People live in terror, feeling very insecure, all of the people, the pro-integrationists as well."

She blamed the situation on "armed thugs" and said it was impossible "to leave the population at the mercy of these criminals."

"I am confident that the Indonesian authorities are going to work toward improving the security situation," Gomes said.

But she added: "The population would feel much safer when a UN presence becomes a reality here."

Habibie Tuesday announced that a poll of some 800,000 East Timorese, will be held on August 8 to see whether the territory, invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed the following year, would accept autonomy or opt for independence.

He also said a UN civilian police force will be deployed to assist Indonesian police for the ballot.

British Deputy Foreign Minister Derek Fatchett who visited Dili Wednesday said the UN personnel, scheduled to start arriving as early as next week, would be "the eyes and ears" of the international community in East Timor.

Tension between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian supporters has heightened since January when Jakarta announced the independence option.

The violence has already left at least 26 people dead according to the military and closer to 100 people according to other sources.

Rights watchdogs and the pro-independence groups say although Dili has been calm for the past days, the violence is continuing in the regions.

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