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VATICAN APPEALS FOR INTERNATIONAL AID FOR EAST TIMOR Address by Papal Representative to Human Rights Commission

GENEVA, SEP 24 (ZENIT).- An extraordinary session of the Human Rights Commission is currently taking place in Geneva, to address the situation in East Timor. In his speech yesterday afternoon, Bishop Giusepe Bertello, head of the Vatican delegation, highlighted the Pope's words, expressing that humanity had failed "when at the dawn of the third millennium fratricidal hands have been raised again to mercilessly kill and destroy, evidencing that, once again, man has not been capable of learning the lesson of history, after the dramas of Rwanda and Kosovo."

"The conflict in Timor is not just one more conflict in today's world, but acquires an altogether particular meaning because it is an attempt to annul the majority will of a people, expressed in close to 80% in favor of independence in the referendum organized and supervised by the highest international entity."

According to the papal representative, "since 1975 the Holy See has not ceased to encourage Indonesia and Portugal," under the aegis of the U.N., to establish a dialogue "among the people of Timor that would safeguard the cultural and religious identity of the people."

"Through the years," the Catholic Church, which includes more than 90% of the population among its faithful, "has become the voice of the people of Timor, defending their identity, protecting the victims of repression, and working in the fields of education and health."

"Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, is an eloquent sign of the recognition of this work," Bishop Bertello said.

"Since the violence of the pro-independence militias broke out, the Holy See has urged the United Nations to deploy an international force in East Timor to stop the killings and reestablish order and security in the territory. Now that the peace contingent has arrived it is necessary and urgent that international humanitarian aid rapidly reach displaced persons and refugees who could die of hunger and ... illnesses."

The Vatican representative reiterated that "the international community must watch over the protection of East Timor so that security conditions and liberty can be recovered in the country," Bishop Bertello concluded. ZE99092405


av Webmaster publisert 04.10.1999, sist endret 04.10.1999 - 21:24