November 14, 1994
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Domingos Alves grasped the steel bars of the fence that surrounds the U.S. Embassy.
"I'm free when I'm inside here," he said of the parking lot that has been his home for three days. "Out there, I'm in prison."
Alves is one of 29 college students who jumped the 8-foot-high embassy fence Saturday to highlight the plight of East Timor -- a former Portugese colony invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed the following year.
They have stayed in the parking lot ever since, hoping that President Clinton, in Jakarta for a trade summit, will support their calls for independence.
The students have little with them besides the clothes they wear. The tropical sun bakes the asphalt on which they sit during the day and sleep at night.
"The embassy gives us rice to eat and water to drink. But nothing else," Alves shouted through the bars Monday to journalists, who are kept five yards back by police barriers.
The parking lot is uncomfortable, but it's officially American soil and provides them sanctuary from local authorities.
Two dozen uniformed police stand watch outside the fence, prevented by international law from making arrests. Security agents in civilian clothes loiter nearby.
The students want Indonesia to grant self-determination to East Timor and free rebel leader Xanana Gusmao, who was captured in 1992 and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Occasionally the students chant slogans. Sometimes they hold up anti-Indonesian banners. Mostly they sit and wait.
"We will stay as long as it takes to make the world know about East Timor's struggle," said Alves.