Timor highlanders back fugitive rebel with prayers

Supporters of the fugitive Timorese rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado, who escaped from custody after being arrested by Australian peacekeepers, are organising a special Mass tomorrow to pray that the rebel leader will continue to evade re-capture.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that thousands of the 39-year-old officer's supporters from western highland regions are expected to gather at the Gleno church, in the coffee-growing Ermera district, after an advertisement placed by the National Front for Justice and Peace in the daily Suara Timor Lorosae yesterday.

The ad said a Mass would pay tribute to "the courage of Major Alfredo Reinado in his continuing struggle against injustice".

"For us, he defends justice, human rights and the constitution," organiser Eduardo de Deus said. "The problem is our legal system doesn't correspond to the aspirations of our people."

Reinado (pictured), the former commander of the country's military police, was arrested by Australian peacekeepers in July on charges of attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons. He escaped in a mass breakout of 57 prisoners on 30 August.

Reinado and most of his unit defected from the army to protest its alleged shooting of civilians in the Taci-Tolo district of Dili in April, the event which triggered the violence and instability which continues today.

De Deus said charges against Reinado of illegal gun possession and attempted murder did not worry him, even though film of him shooting at another person with a stolen army gun had been shown on Australian television.

De Deus earlier told the daily Timor Post that the youth of the 10 western districts of East Timor have pledged to "protect and conceal" Reinado, who has been taunting his searchers in phone interviews with international media.

The people back Timor's Ned Kelly (Sydney Morning Herald, 11/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Alfredo Reinardo (Wikipedia)

'Big people' must reconcile, say displaced Timorese (CathNews 15/8/06)
Priest says coffee growers big losers in Timor unrest (CathNews 21/7/06)
Ramos-Horta wants Vatican embassy for Timor (CathNews 11/7/06)
Timor Church accused of plotting coup (CathNews 29/6/06)
Timor Church to pursue truth and dialogue (CathNews 28/6/06)
Diocese prepares to aid fleeing East Timor refugees (CathNews 11/5/06)
East Timor Catholic leaders appeal for calm after riot (CathNews 5/5/06)
Thousands shelter in Catholic centres after East Timor riots (CathNews 3/5/06)
West Timor bishop tells Govt it's time to act on refugees (CathNews 13/3/03)

11 Sep 2006