Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

8 April 1999 Edition

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Seventeen killed in East-Timor

The Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao has ordered to the Timorese people and, specially, to the guerrilla movement Fretilin to go back to war against the Indonesian army. Gusmao's call came after the church and resistance forces denounced an attack carried out by pro-Indonesian paramilitaries in Maubara, in the district of Liquisa, who opened fire against civilians, killing 17 people.

``I order all Timorese, specially the pro-independence guerrillas, to fight against the army and the pro-Indonesian paramilitaries'', pointed out Gusmao in a statement read by his lawyer, Johnson Panjaitan. Xanana Gusmao (53) was moved from his prison cell in Cipinang jail - where he was serving a 20-year prison term for his leadership of the Timorese resistance movement- to house arrest in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, last January.

Basque National Day

Herri Batasuna's chairman, Joseba Permach, pointed out that this year's Aberri Eguna (Basque National Day), celebrated on Easter Sunday by the Basque people, was a historic occasion, as it was the first time in 20 years that all Basque nationalist parties celebrate their national day together in the six Basque provinces and because it was the Basque Town Councils Assembly - the body that includes all the Basque nationalist councillors and mayors from both sides of the Pyrenees - that called for this celebration to unite all Basque nationalists.

On Easter Sunday morning, in each town and village of the Basque Country, the councillors from the Christian-Democrat Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), the Social-Democrat Eusko Alkartasuna (EA) and the socialist pro-independence Herri Batasuna (HB) celebrated the Basque National Day together. In the evening, each nationalist party called their supporters to the parties' celebrations in different cities of the Basque Country.

The virulent reaction of the Spanish parties to the statements of the nationalist parties was the only negative aspect on the day. Permach criticized the opposition of the Spanish parties and the Spanish and French governments to any political initiative to solve the Basque conflict: ``Those parties and governments, who are always in the `no' camp, show us time and time again their isolation. They lack new proposals and maintain their old position, based on hatred, war, repression, torture, suffering, and the scattering of prisoners.'' Joseba Permach said that the Basque Country ``will keep moving forward'' and pointed out that the national demonstration on Saturday 10 April and the one-hour general strike on Monday, 12 April, ``will show to the governments of Paris and Madrid that they must end the conflict. We must show them the strength of our commitment and that peace should be based on the respect to the rights of our people''.

Dying prisoner strikes for release

On Easter Monday, three Basque youths chained themselves to the hospital bed of Basque political prisoner Esteban Esteban Nieto in Puerto Real, Cadiz. Meanwhile, other two youths scaled the front of the hospital to denounce ``the extreme suffering of this prisoner and to show our solidarity.''

Esteban Nieto is dying of cancer, but although the Spanish law allows for the freeing of terminally ill prisoners, the authorities will not release him. In addition to his illness, Esteban Nieto has been on hunger strike for a number of days to denounce his situation and has announced that he will stop any liquid intake from Sunday, 11 April. Esteban Nieto wants to be released so he can die surrounded by his family.

Political Crisis in Paraguay.

The flight of Paraguay's president, Raul Cubas, and of General Lino Oviedo, marked the first steps towards the solution of a deep political crisis in the South American country. The new Paraguayan president, Luis Gonzalez Macchi, has said that he will focus his government's efforts on securing the extradition of General Oviedo back to Paraguay to pay for all his crimes, including the murder of the country's vice president, Jose Maria Argana.

Lino Oviedo was the figure responsible for an unsuccessful military coup in 1996 against the government of president Juan Carlos Wasmosy. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment but was subsequently released by the now former president, Raul Cubas, a personal friend of the general. The general is thought to be behind the murder of Vice President Argana on 23 March and a gun attack against a demonstration on 19 March, in which four demonstrators taking part in a vigil died. After a week of street violence, president Cubas was forced to resign, and when an investigation into the killing of the demonstrators was initiated, he decided to flee to Brazil. President Macchi has now ordered an investigation into the links between Cubas's associates and the killings. Some journalists and members of parliament have been charged with supplying the arms used against the demonstrators.

The new president has made the extradition of General Oviedo, who has been granted political asylum by Argentinean president, Carlos Menem (another of the general's close friends), one of his administration's main objectives. Macchi maintains that only the Oviedo's trial will bring peace and stability to Paraguay.

General elections will be called in six months, and it is expected that the new president and vice president will be elected in January 2000. It seems that the only candidate for the presidency will be Luis Gonzalez Macchi, a member of the Red Party - a political organisation that has won the elections in Paraguay for 56 years.

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