Hundreds of Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Protestants gathered in Dili on Wednesday to pray for peace in violence-torn East Timor as the region prepares for an independence or autonomy vote in August.
    The former Portugese colony will go to the polls on 8 August to vote either for autonomy within Indonesia or full independence.
    Catholic World News reports that Dili's Bishop Carlos Belo of Dili, made a call at the prayer service for all factions to lay down their arms, including the pro-independence Falintil rebels. "Everybody must put down their arms, including pro-integration forces and Falintil," he said.
    Indonesia's military has been accused by human rights groups of arming and training anti-independence militias.
    Falintil's leader, Xanana Gusmao, who is held in house arrest in Jakarta, called for all East Timorese to remain calm. "Those who think that demonstrating is a show of courage are mistaken. Demonstrating now is provoking and inciting the militias to continue to kill the population," he said.

11:53am 13/5/99 / Catholic World News


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