|East Timor||PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS COMIMG OUT OF HIDING|
With the arrival of Australian and other foreign troops, priests and religious are emerging from hiding to offer support to people attempting to rebuild their lives.
Sister Marlene, a Salesian nun from the Philippines who had been in hiding for two weeks in the suburb of Bacora, said: "I came out today because I heard the peacekeepers were coming and also to do some looting, as we were trying to find vegetables around the burned-out houses."
A priest, Fr Francisco, came to camp out in the rubbish-strewn grounds of Bishop Belo's house, where some members of his congregation were cleaning the tiled rooms of his roofless residence. Only a lifesized statue of the Blessed Virgin was left standing in the building, its face smashed.
Father Francisco estimated 100 people had been killed in Dili. "I know this from talking to families," he said. One man was murdered when militia and TNI came to expel thousands of refugees in the bishop's garden on 6th September. "I tried to escape to Bacau," he said, "but I saw the militia shoot a man in a car in front of me, so I came back and hid."
82 year old Sr Margareta, at one time thought to have been killed, stayed at the bishop's house throughout. Small and stooped, she fingered a rosary as she said: "Thank you for coming. It is the grace of the Lord."
Irish Times 11:43am 22/9/99