Bishop calling for peace in advance of commission report

.- A bishop in East Timor has called for calm in anticipation of the release of the findings of a commission that investigated violence which afflicted the tiny country in April and May, reported UCA News.

"We should place peace and calm in our hearts to see the outcome of the inquiry commission, because it will be a positive step toward truth and justice," Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili reportedly said on Oct. 6.

He said the results would probably be painful for some groups in society, but that the report’s findings must be welcomed in order to rebuild a foundation of human rights and justice in the country, UCA News reported. While some have said violence may erupt after the findings are released, the bishop urged his people to accept the report without violence.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry was set up June 8 at the request of then-foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who subsequently became prime minister after Mari Alkatiri resigned as head of the government.

The commission was given a mandate to establish the facts surrounding the April 28-29 protests by soldiers, the May 25 killings of nine police officers, and the resulting gang warfare, looting and arson that claimed at least 21 lives. It also was to recommend measures to bring those responsible to justice.

The findings were due for release on Oct. 8 but at last report were still being translated into Indonesian, Portuguese, and Tetum, the main languages used in the state.

Fr. Jose Soares, who serves at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Dili, says political and military leaders should be prepared to take responsibility if the commission names them as responsible.

However, he told UCA News he feared that if some military officials are named, “they may flee with their subordinates and launch a guerilla war which could endanger the nation.”

University student Marcelo Dias told UCA News Oct. 11 that he is hopeful justice will be done and optimistic about security, citing the presence of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the country.


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