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World - Asia/Pacific

Timor rebel gets bungalow, garden in the suburbs

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) -- For more than 23 years, East Timor rebel chief Xanana Gusmao struggled to survive in the rugged mountains of his homeland, then a small Indonesian prison cell.

Now, he has a modest bungalow in Jakarta's suburbs.

Gusmao was transferred on Wednesday from jail to house arrest at number 47 Jalan Percetakan Negara VII, a single-story, four-bedroom home a few miles (kilometres) from his former cell.

The house, once occupied by a senior official from Cipinang prison, has been newly painted and renovated. The furnishings are simple.

A large wooden crucifix, between a large picture of Christ and another of the Virgin Mary, hangs on the wall in the living room.

Gusmao is free to move around the house and the flower-filled garden, permanently under the watchful eye of four armed prison officers.

Outside, armed police will mount an around-the-clock watch.

Gusmao will be allowed to have visitors, including his wife and children, who live in Australia.

But nobody will be allowed to stay overnight. His telephone can receive calls, but not make them.

Gusmao is expected to play a pivotal role in determining the fate of his bloodied homeland after 23 years of Indonesian rule and will receive a flood of international, Indonesian and Timorese visitors.

A brief chronology of important events in East Timor:

  • East Timor was ruled by Portugal for 450 years. Tribal wars were common during this time.

  • Civil war erupted among the local political parties when Lisbon abruptly abandoned the territory in 1975.

  • Indonesia invades the territory in 1975 and annexes it the following year.

  • Jakarta makes surprise announcement on January 27, 1999, that it would consider cutting East Timor loose after 23 years of rule.

  • Jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao is released from prison and placed under house arrest.

    Catholic bishop accuses Jakarta of arming East Timor militias
    February 4, 1999

    Free East Timor
    Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET)
    East Timor Action Network
    Free East Timor
    East Timor Human Rights Centre
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