BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Clive Myrie reports from Dili
"From these ashes a new nation has to be built"
 real 56k

The BBC's Richard Galpin reports
"The people of East Timor will be relieved that Xanana Gusmao is definitely not stepping down"
 real 28k

President of Timor Aid, Maria Do Ceu Federer
"Plenty of hope for the future"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
East Timor marks year of freedom
Remembering the dead at Dili's Santa Cruz cemetary
Remembering the dead at Dili's Santa Cruz cemetary
East Timorese have been commemorating the first anniversary of their vote for independence from Indonesia, and praying for those who died in the violence that erupted after the referendum.

But amid the celebrations, the United Nations has warned that pro-Indonesian militias are stepping up their campaign of violence, and questioned whether the Indonesian army is acting to prevent them.

You might shout because you are crying, you might tell the world because you are suffering, but this day is yours

Xanana Gusmao
Thousands attended an emotional service in Dili's main cathedral conducted by the Nobel peace prize laureate, Bishop Carlos Belo.

The crowd outside doubled the congregation of 1,500 inside, among whom were nuns, UN officials and independence leader Xanana Gusmao.

Many arrived in their Sunday best, singing and carrying flowers.

Indonesia armed the militia
Some people wept as Bishop Belo said this was not only a time for celebration but for remembrance for those killed during 24 years of repressive Indonesian rule.

It is believed that some 1,000 people were killed by pro-Jakarta militia in the wake of last year's independence referendum.

"This suffering will help East Timorese to become stronger," he said, speaking both in Portuguese and in the local Tetum dialect.

'This day is yours'

Mr Gusmao also addressed the crowd, which cheered and clapped as he began speaking.

Xanana Gusmao
Xanana Gusmao: 'People are also crying'
"You might shout because you are crying. You might tell the world because you are suffering. But this day is yours. Our people's day," he said.

"In each house I know that people are also crying because within this atmosphere of freedom, a lot of people have lost. Lost their belongings and everything."

During the day it was announced that Mr Gusmao had overwhelmingly been re-elected president of the main political organisation set up to resist Indonesian rule, the National Resistance Council of East Timor.

Many lost relatives in last year's violence
The other well known independence leader, Jose Ramos Horta, was also confirmed in his position as one of the vice-presidents by a council congress.

Last Sunday the two men threatened to leave their posts in what our correspondent says appeared to have been a tactic to forge greater unity within the organisation.

UN warning

As celebrations got under way in Dili, the UN said that around 2,000 pro-Indonesian militia members had demonstrated outside their offices in the provincial capital of neighbouring West Timor, Kupang.

East Timor's suffering
200,000 dead from war, famine and disease in two years following Indonesia's invasion in 1975
Hundreds killed and tortured under military rule
100,000 refugees still in West Timor
70% unemployment - many East Timorese dependant on UN handouts
There has been a spate of attacks on UN officials in West Timor in recent months by suspected militia members based in the refugee camps housing East Timorese who fled last year's fighting.

At the UN in New York, a senior official warned that the militias might launch "guerrilla-style operations" to disrupt the UN operation and attack civilians.

Hedi Annabi, assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, said that recent events raised "serious concern" about the Indonesian's army ability and will to crack down on the militias.

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Dili says that despite the trauma of the violence last year, there is now considerable optimism amongst the people of East Timor.

He says that they believe they do have a positive future before them, even if it will take many years to create a fully independent nation.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

27 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timorese leaders stay on
14 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia to close Timor refugee camps
11 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor peacekeeper killed
04 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Timor's day of reckoning
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories