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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Intervene now - News Online readers

Demonstrators in Sydney demand ana end to the violence

BBC News Online has received more than 2,000 emails on East Timor, the vast majority in favour of international intervention to stop the bloodshed.

Half of these have come from the former colonial ruler of the territory, Portugal, which still has a strong affiliation with the Timorese.

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Martinho Ruivo summed up the view of many: "I have no doubt that it is time to intervene in Timor, shame on you Indonesia!!"

Monica Ferreira asks,"What are we waiting for? While I'm writing this message many souls are being killed. I just can't stop thinking about that. I can't, I can't...."

Ana Raquel Sousa wrote: "Just to let you know that huge demonstrations are taking place in Portugal's main cities. People are "screaming" for an action and crying for the dead. I'm only 20 years old but I have never seen this country like this! Everybody is trying to help.

"Today there will be a three minute pause in every activities in the country, including television, and later on there will be a human "belt" of 10 km around the embassies of the security council countries."

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Many contributors have drawn a comparison with the situation in Kosovo.

Ken Ball in the UK wrote: "If the UN does not intervene in East Timor, how can it justify having intervened in Kosovo - the situation is not greatly different except for the fact that East Timor is not in Europe - this is not a good enough criteria to select which countries the UN/Nato get involved in a military way. "

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The UN is widely criticised by BBC News Online readers, who believe there is an obligation for the international community to see through the results of the referendum they monitored.

The actions of the Indonesian military in East Timor are causing concern to those in neighbouring countries. From Singapore Lim Lyn writes: "Its actions and intentions in East Timor is a frightening example of what Indonesia or its military can do in its expression of rage and disrespect for the undertakings it has given to the International community.

Worrying precedent

"It sets a worrying precedent for its Asean neighbours as to how this giant can behave when it does not get things its way."

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Many Indonesians who have contacted News Online believe their government can control the situation.

Dirga Alamsyah writes: "Being an Indonesian, I' m honestly shamed by our military's bad record but they do want to improve now. Please give them last opportunity to restore order shortly in East Timor."

But for the vast majority international intervention is the only option and time is running out.

"They started as 600,000, when Indonesia invaded! They had 400,000, when they voted for independence! They will have 0, when finally independence arrives......" writes Paulo Coelho from Portugal.

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The issue of East Timor has struck a chord with Australians. Their government is one of the few countries to have recognised Indonesia's annexation of East Timor 24 years ago.

The close proximity of Australia to the territory means refugees are already fleeing there in droves.

"Australia should accept responsibility to take a leading role,"writes Michael. "Since 1974 Australia has demonstrated a total lack of resolve to take any action against the institutionalised oppression occurring on its doorstep.

"Now is the time for Australia to display some moral leadership and take a firm hand against the bloody, corrupt regime in Jakarta. "

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But it is not just from countries with an interest in East Timor that emails have been received.

Correspondents from Brazil, Peru, Uganda and Guinea-Bissau have expressed their horror at what some have termed the "ethnic cleansing" or "genocide" of the East Timorese people.

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