Sep 23, 2017 Last Updated 1:04 PM, Sep 13, 2017

Timor-Leste

Rocking the boat

Jose da Costa and 17 others fled Indonesia-occupied East Timor on a small fishing boat and sought asylum in Australia

Read more

Graphic resistance

Graphic resistance

Photo-essay: Dissent and struggle are persistent themes of images adorning walls across East Timor

Read more

Antithesis of justice

While top officials hail the Australia-Indonesia security agreement, ARTHUR KING is appalled to find that, on the ground in East Timor, youths who resist still face torture.

Read more

Rivals congratulate Nobel winner

In August 1975 a brief but bitter civil war in East Timor pitted Fretilin against the UDT. It was the prelude to Indonesian annexation. Since then, rivalry has hampered East Timorese cooperation, and been exploited by Indonesian government spokespersons. In this generous statement the UDT speaks openly about the past, and embraces Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos- Horta.

The Supreme Political council of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) welcomes the announcement by the Nobel Peace Committee that the 1966 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are two East Timorese, Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo and Mr Jose Ramos-Horta. We extend to our two compatriots our most heartfelt congratulations. Within minutes of the announcement of the award, UDT leaders and militants sent numerous messages to the two winners. Now, the UDT leadership wishes to issue a more detailed account of UDT views about the role of Mr Ramos-Horta in more than two decades of dedicated and tireless efforts towards our common cause.

The Indonesian government and media have engaged in a grotesque slander campaign against Mr Jose Ramos-Horta, as they did against Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo in the fall of 1995, on the eve of the Nobel Peace Committee's announcement of the 1995 winners. Most international observers were predicting in 1995 that Bishop Belo was going to be the winner that year. There were even orchestrated street demonstrations in Indonesia and petitions denouncing Bishop Belo. Now it is Mr Ramos-Horta who is being denounced and called all sorts of names.

Adversary

Mr Ramos-Horta is a political adversary of the UDT, but in more than 21 years he always displayed flexibility, tolerance and readiness to cooperate with his adversaries. It was through Mr Ramos-Horta's tireless efforts that in January 1975 the UDT and Fretilin signed a coalition.

When violence erupted in East Timor in August 1975, Mr Ramos- Horta was out of the country. But he sent personal messages to the UDT leaders as he did to his Fretilin colleagues urging us to stop the fighting. Mr Ramos-Horta also offered to mediate between the two parties.

When he was able to return to East Timor in mid-September 1975, when the conflict ended with Fretilin gaining military supremacy over the UDT, he visited all prisoners, cooperated with the International Red Cross, and raised his voice when prisoners were mistreated by their captors. He secured the release of many UDT prisoners and managed to organise the evacuation of some stranded children to Australia to reunite with their families.

Within hours of his arrival in Dili, he secured the release of Portuguese army soldiers who had been detained by Fretilin. They were handed over to the ICRC who repatriated them to Portugal in September 1975.

Tolerance

There is not one single East Timorese who can claim that Mr Ramos-Horta was engaged in violence, directly or indirectly. Quite the contrary, he was among the very vocal few who tried to control the excesses and always displayed enormous tolerance and humanity. He visited the prisoners and had tears in his eyes when he heard of their mistreatment, and did not hesitate to express his revulsion at meetings of the Fretilin Central Committee. This caused him numerous serious problems with the extremists, and more than once he was threatened with arrest and expulsion from Fretilin.

When Fretilin gained the upper hand in September-November 1975 he visited UDT imprisoned leaders and discussed with them ideas about how they could reorganise themselves. Some UDT leaders who crossed over to West Timor at the end of August 1975 were immediately held hostage in Indonesia and were coerced to support Jakarta policies.

Social democrat

In an extraordinary display of political wisdom, Mr Ramos-Horta met with those UDT leaders who stayed behind in East Timor and were detained by Fretilin, and proposed that they reorganise the party in East Timor. Our colleagues agreed with his wise proposal but the Fretilin hardliners blocked it.

Mr Ramos-Horta was a social democrat from the very beginning and never changed his stand ever since. He was never part of the Marxist faction of Fretilin and was always viewed with suspicion by the extremists.

In 1978 he argued for reconciliation between UDT and Fretilin. He was attacked by the then Fretilin leader abroad, Mr Abilio Araujo, a Marxist-Leninist ideologue, and was labelled a 'traitor'. Mr Abilio Araujo is now a wealthy businessman in Lisbon, but only a few years ago he was a dogmatic communist who branded any one like Ramos-Horta a 'traitor' and a 'capitalist roader'. Mr Ramos-Horta was even physically threatened with death by the extremists.Alliance

When he visited Australia in June-July 1984, he discussed with us again the idea of an alliance between Fretilin and UDT, and in 1986 the two parties signed the Nationalist Convergence.

For more than 21 years he has argued for dialogue with Indonesia. For this he was also accused as a sell-out by the same extremists who are today in Jakarta's payroll.

Even though we in UDT at times had our differences with him, he never hesitated to help us. On several occasions, he helped UDT or individual members of UDT out of his own pocket. In critical periods of our struggle requiring immediate diplomatic activities, he supported some of the travels, accommodation and in many occasions organised for us to stay with his friends. His sense of humour always helped us in our hours of despair. His determination and passion, professionalism in carrying out his duties, but also his love for life, has always inspired us. We often joke that he is a non-card carrying UDT member rather than a leader of Fretilin.

In the face of the slanderous attacks on Mr Ramos-Horta, the UDT feels it is its obligation to put the record straight, because not doing so would be morally unfair. The UDT is proud that two East Timorese won the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Award, and look forward to continue a 21 year old association with our political adversary Mr Ramos-Horta in our common goal of pursuing freedom for our country, through a just and peaceful solution.

Signed: Joao Carrascalao, President of UDT; Domingos de Oliveira, General Secretary; Sydney, 24 October 1996. The Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) Supreme Political Council can be contacted at PO Box 3233, Liverpool NSW 2170, Australia.

Inside Indonesia 49: Jan-Mar 1997
Read more

Latest Articles

The Floating School

Sep 12, 2017 - RAHMAT HIDAYAT

Despite its recent start, the Floating School already has 83 students. (Rahmat Hidayat)

A mobile school in South Sulawesi offers new horizons to young islanders

Gambling with truth

Sep 07, 2017 - LIA KENT AND RIZKI AMALIA AFFIAT

Two Acehnese young women hold up colourful protest signs demanding justice for past human rights violations.

Aceh’s Commission for Truth and Reconciliation has an important, though delicate, mission ahead

Encountering Indonesia at AsiaTOPA (Part 2)

Aug 28, 2017 - BARBARA HATLEY

Jaman Belulang by Teater Satu (Sandra Thibodeaux)

Reflections on contemporary Indonesia and Australia-Indonesia relations at the AsiaTOPA festival

Encountering Indonesia at AsiaTOPA 2017 (Part 1)

Aug 03, 2017 - BARBARA HATLEY

Garin Nugroho's 'Satan Jawa' drew a standing ovation at AsiaTOPA 2017. (Garin Nugroho)

Indonesian performances at the AsiaTOPA festival opened up ‘creative conversations’ between Australians and Indonesians

Fighting apathy, seeking engagement

Jul 29, 2017 - SARAH WINDRED

Students travelling by ojek to their KKN destination. (Sarah Windred)

Students have mixed feelings about a mandatory community service program at Indonesian universities

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

Readers said:

  • Freedom of information
    carlos - 21 Aug
    Has anything changed since 2014? There has been a lot of change in government organizations regarding corruption. Are governments in East Java more ...
     
  • ‘I am an Indonesian citizen!’
    otto gusti madung - 14 Aug
    I find the article very good and horizon expanding
     
  • Encountering Indonesia at AsiaTOPA 2017 (Part 1)
    Ralf Dudat - 08 Aug
    Excellent article. In light of the fact that most Australian film critics, journalists and arts writers were either unaware or apathetic to Setan Jawa ...
     
  • Marriage denied
    ghulam maruf - 23 Jul
    I'm a asylum seeker in Indonesia and I want married with a Indonesian woman I'm also rejected from unhcr second time naw my case is closed from unhcr I ...

30th Anniversary Book

Inside Indonesia - 30th Anniversary Photo Book

 

Have you bought your copy of Inside Indonesia's 30th Anniversary book yet?

The book features 30 of the judges' favourite images from the 2013 Inside Indonesia Photography Competition.

Preview the book  and order your copy online (Soft cover approx AUD$23.00 / Hard cover approx AUD$35.00).