Troops Stationed to Avert Commemorations of Army Massacre
DILI, Indonesia (AP) _ Dozens of soldiers and police staked out an East Timor cemetery Sunday, trying to block memorials on the fourth anniversary of the massacre of independence demonstrators.
Earlier this week, the government expelled or barred foreign activists who planned to mark the anniversary in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1976.
Between 50 and 200 people were killed when troops opened fire at an independence rally Nov. 12, 1991, at the Santa Cruz burial grounds.
On Sunday, visitors laid flowers on the graves under the eyes of dozens of soldiers and police. Police also stood watch outside churches.
Opposition leaders outside Indonesia say the government arrested 150 to 400 people beforehand to discourage demonstrations Sunday.
Troops and soldiers guarded the main entries to Dili, the East Timor capital.
``All of us were asked to open up our shirts, bags, while they checked our pockets,″ said Bernando Fernandes, frisked Sunday morning as he entered the town.
East Timor Gov. Abilio Soares banned communal activities to commemorate the massacre, the Islamic newspaper Republika said.
Only observances by victims’ families would be permitted, and then only religious services, the governor said, according to the newspaper.
Authorities denied a report that a truck driver was arrested 75 miles east of Dili with a load of ammunition.
``Nothing has happened so far and hopefully later on, since the situation is under control,″ said Col. Andreas Sugianto, chief of the East Timor police command.
The Indonesian government said security concerns demanded that they bar foreigners before the anniversary.
``We can’t tolerate anyone who undermines our integrity and stability,″ said Minister of Defense and Security Affairs Edi Sudrajat.
The United Nations still considers Portugal the administering authority in East Timor, a territory it had colonized for more than four centuries.