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TIMOR TODAY 24/12/99 - Christmas Break Edition

For full text see… http://www.easttimor.com/

STORIES

1. Double blow for Timor rights efforts 24/12/99 JAKARTA, (AFP) - Efforts to bring to justice those behind the violence in East Timor received a double blow this week with the former armed forces chief rebuffing a domestic inquiry and the government again rejecting an international tribunal. General Wiranto, the former armed forces chief, failed to appear on Wednesday before the Commission of Investigation into Rights Abuses in East Timor, formed by the National Commission on Human Rights.

2. Father of East Timor independence leader dies of heart attack 24/12/99 Dili (AFP) - The father of East Timor's independence leader, Xanana Gusmao, died of a heart attack at his home early Thursday, the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) said. Manuel Francisco Gusmao, 84, died about 8:30 a.m. (0030 GMT), several hours after he was stricken. During the Indonesian-backed violence which destroyed much of East Timor in September, Manuel Gusmao was incorrectly reported killed. "They waited 24 years to spend the first Christmas together," Almeida said. "I think he was a proud father."

3. Militia Leader Denies Link To Indonesia Military 24/12/99 JAKARTA (AP)--The leader of one of the militia gangs that terrorized East Timor three months ago has denied allegations he and other pro-Indonesian thugs were acting on orders from the military. "We burned our own houses because we were angry the pro-independence supporters won the ballot unfairly," he said at a news conference in Jakarta. "But we've never been trained by the military."

4. Military chief will "allow" questioning of generals over Timor violence 24/12/99 JAKARTA (AFP) - The head of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) said Thursday the military had no objection to the questioning of several of its high-ranking generals by a state commission on violence in East Timor. Asked in a press conference if he would allow his predecessor General Wiranto and five other active generals to be questioned by KPP HAM, military chief Admiral Widodo Adisucipto said "in principle, the summons could be issued."

5. Norwich University Severs Ties With Indonesia 24/12/99 (ETAN) by Terry J. Allen In a stunning turn around, Norwich University announced Monday that it "is severing all formal ties with the Indonesian military ...[and] will no longer accept payments" for students to attend the country's's only private military college. By severing ties, said faculty member Mark Byrnes, Norwich "has finally admitted that there was an institutional relationship between the Indonesian army and the University. That was always our problem with the program and now President Richard Schneider has addressed it." he said. "I feel as if Christmas has come five days early."

6. Portugal Shows Desire for New East Timor Ties 24/12/99 International Herald Tribune Carrying several large suitcases full of freshly minted Portuguese bank notes, Joao Manuel Tubal Goncalves flew by chartered helicopter from Darwin, in northern Australia, to East Timor recently to open a branch of Banco Nacional Ultramarino. The next day, Banco Nacional Ultramarino, Portugal's main overseas bank, opened, sending a clear signal that East Timor's colonial ruler for more than 400 years was ready to again have an influential role here.

7. Asian Development Bank Participates In Trust Fund For East Timor, Boosts Water Supply For West Timor 24/12/99 (ADB Press Release) The Asian Development Bank is participating in a reconstruction trust fund with the World Bank for East Timor. The fund will be used to rebuild sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, health, education and macro-economics.

REPORTS

1. Feverish and scared, refugees return to East Timor 24/12/99 The Independent [UK] By Kathy Marks in Batugade His face twisted with anxiety, Dasenio Aldes pushed his way through the crowd queuing under the sun-bleached awning and motioned imploringly at the limp bundle in his arms. It was his 11-year-old son, Marcelino, and he was in a wretched state. Feverish, eyes glazed, the boy groaned weakly as he was placed on a stretcher and a needle was inserted into his scrawny vein. Five minutes earlier, a convoy of trucks had arrived and disgorged hundreds of people, including Marcelino and his family, on a parched piece of waste ground that serves as a transit site for East Timorese refugees returning from camps in West Timor.

2. Situation of human rights in East Timor 24/12/99 United Nations General Assembly - Agenda item 116 Human rights questions: human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives Note by the Secretary-General

EDITORIAL

1. THE FIRST BRIGHT CHRISTMAS AFTER MORE THAN 450 YEARS OF DARKNESS By Joao Soares Martins* The people of East Timor will celebrate Christmas 1999 and a new millennium with joy and happiness despite grief and destruction resulting from the post-ballot violence. It will be the first free and bright Christmas after more than 450 years of darkness under Portuguese colonisation and 24 years under illegal occupation of Indonesia. There will of course be expectations and challenge associated with the new change of status.

2. Good ties: Insurance for RI and Australia 24/12/99 'Opinion' - Jakarta Post by Paul Dibb and Peter Prince CANBERRA (JP): Australia's future is intimately bound up with that of Indonesia. A stable Indonesia gives Australia security and protection across its vast northern approaches. And the state of Australia's relations with Jakarta heavily affects its links with Southeast Asia as a whole. It might also be noted, however, that at a time when Indonesia and its new democratic institutions have only just started the long journey towards political, economic and social stability, poor relations with Australia are of no help to those seeking to guide this process.

PHOTOS a) Pro-Indonesia miltia leader Eurico Guterres speaks during a press conference in Jakarta Thursday, Dec. 23, 1999. Guterres, the leader of Aitarak, one of the most-feared militia gangs that rampaged through East Timor three months ago, has denied allegations he and other pro-Indonesian thugs were organized and armed by the military. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

b) An Australian soldier, part of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET), plays a bagpipe during "Beating the Retreat", a traditional ceremony of the Australian army to end the day, Thursday Dec. 23, 1999 in Dili, East Timor. INTERFET landed on the island on Sept. 20 to regain control of the province from the pro-Indonesia militia who went on a rampage of destruction after it was announced the people had voted for independence in a United Nation-supervised ballot on Aug. 30. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from all of us at ETISC. Timor Today news will resume 4th January, 2000.

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