East Timor meeting goes ahead

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The Independent Online
MANILA (Reuter) - The Philippines Supreme Court yesterday cleared the way for a human rights conference on East Timor to open, but some distinguished foreign delegates still face deportation.

Indonesia, accused by human rights groups of killing 250,000 people since it annexed East Timor in 1976, has bitterly opposed the conference. Bowing to this pressure, President Fidel Ramos's government banned foreigners from attending and expelled 11 of them, including the Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire.

But about 25 delegates from the US, Japan, the Netherlands, India, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, South Korea, Nepal and Argentina managed to attend. In all about 400 people attended the opening at the University of the Philippines School of Law.

In Lisbon, the Portuguese Prime Minister, Anibal Cavaco Silva, condemned the Philippines for bowing to pressure from Indonesia. Portugal broke off relations with Indonesia after it invaded its former territory.