BY ANNABELLE WH1 I I S IONE A 27 METRE-TALL statue of Christ the King is under construction in Fatukama Bay in East Timor. The statue, which can be seen from every approach to Dili, the East Timorese capital, was funded by State airline Garuda and the Indonesian Government "to symbolise Jakarta's desire to recognise East Timor's Christian character". The statue will be inaugurated on the 20th anniversary of East Timor's annexation by Indonesia,
East Timor was illegally acquired by the Indonesians in 1975. One tenth of the Timorese population was killed in the Second World War defending Australia from the Japanese.
There have been outbursts of violence in the last two years which have been represented by the Indonesian Government as religious conflicts between the largely Catholic population of East Timor and Muslim Indonesians. The Muslim population is part of its Government's forced immigration campaign to overwhelm the island's native population.
Catherine Scott of the Catholic Institute for International Relations told the Herald that "the statue is being built as a sop to the Catholic population." Fr Pat Smythe, a parish priest in Yorkshire and East Timor campaigner, has also questioned the Indonesian Government's motives in the latest Timor Link newsletter.
On 26 June the Australian Government, released the findings of the Sherman Report set up to investigate the murder of six journalists in 1975. It says that they were murdered by the Indonesian military, Mervyn Alexander, Bishop of Clifton, in East Timor at the time of its invasion in 1975, was a witness to the aftermath of one of the murders.