|East Timor||CARITAS CHAIR "DEEPLY CONCERNED" ABOUT BISHOP BELO|
The chairman of Caritas Australia, Bishop Hilton Deakin, has said that he is "deeply concerned" about the condition and position of East Timor's Bishop Carlos Belo: "There was a bite of him last night on television and it was of a sad man who was up against the wall, it was most uncharacteristic of him."
The office and residence of Bishop Belo were set on fire by pro-Indonesian militia. The Bishop was unhurt and was escorted by Indonesian army troops to Baucau, the other diocese of the island, to the residence of Bishop Basilio Do Nascimento. The Bishops' House in Dili is now a refuge for large numbers of refugees.
One diplomat said the object of the attack on Nobel laureate Belo's home was to force out some 6000 refugees who had gone there to escape the violence engulfing East Timor and which the Indonesian military and police have done nothing to prevent.
A local religious told the Vatican's Fides news agency: "First they set fire to the Bishop's office: 25 people who had sought refuge there were killed. Then at 11 a.m. they torched the Bishops house, which was completely burned to the ground, but no one was hurt."
Soon after result of the ballot was announced on Saturday, Bishop Belo called on East Timorese to forgive each other. "Let us forget the bitterness of life and past dark days. Gaze the future that is full of promises, hope and challenges," he said to the few remaining journalists when asked his comments over the ballot's result.
Meanwhile, the Jesuit Refugee Service reports that Bishop Belo described the campaign by the militias was a "coup d'etat" by military elements to overturn the results of the ballot. He said thousands had fled to the mountains, where they face a humanitarian crisis. Bishop Belo pleaded for international peace keeping forces to come to East Timor as a matter of urgency.
ABC, Zenit (available soon), Reuters & JRS 12:08pm 7/9/99