East Timor student demonstrations debated

Issue 

@ May 10, Xanana Gusmao, president of the National Council for Timorese Resistance, issued a statement criticising the People's Defence Council of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (RDTL) for organising student demonstrations outside the University of East Timor between May 4 and 9. The demonstrations began with about 40 people and grew to almost 1000 by the final day.

Xanana stated: "Initiatives of this type only show lack of discipline, of political vision, as well as a misperception of the current situation, a situation causing the population more suffering and forcing our leaders into hiding.

"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.

"This only shows that RDTL is not thinking of the interests of the population of Dili. RDTL and other groups are ... making a big mistake: mistakes questioning discipline and organisation within the Resistance, mistakes that show how each group is only pursuing its own interests and not thinking of the suffering of the people."

The statement continued: "I am aware that the youths are trying to mobilise the population of Dili for a massive demonstration, this only shows that these youths are deprived of any sense of responsibility ... Who is left to cry when the population is killed? Who looks after the wounded? ...

"The presence of the UN in East Timor does not mean that victory is on our side. The task of the UN is to organise the consultation of the people on August 8. We thus must all contribute to this process, follow the orientations of the UN team.

"To this end, I reiterate my appeal to all to remain calm. I reiterate my appeal to the youths of Dili to obey orders and demand that they act responsibly and with discipline."

The RDTL is under the political direction of the Timorese Socialist Party (PST). In Jakarta, PST activist Nelson Correia told Green Left Weekly that he believes the militia do not need an excuse to attack East Timorese.

In Portugal, the newspaper Lusa quoted PST spokesperson Azancot de Menezesas, commenting on Xanana's statement, as saying, "The Indonesians have never needed excuses to carry out massacres".

According to Correia, the RDTL organised the May 4-9 demonstrations to show support for the re-establishment of the Democratic Republic of East Timor declared on November 28, 1975, and to start testing the seriousness of the UN in carrying out its mandate for a referendum. Correia also said the RDTL was planning a congress in the near future.