Dec 09, 2022 Last Updated 6:29 AM, Nov 29, 2022


Change in Indonesia, chance for East Timor

Transition to a post-Suharto era in Jakarta could be window of opportunity for East Timor. What might that window offer, asks COKI NAIPOSPOS?

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

To struggle for freedom: Indonesia yesterday, East Timor today

PETER CAREY finds many parallels between the conduct of the present-day Indonesian regime in East Timor and that of the Netherlands' colonial administration in the Indies before World War II. Not least, both governments took for granted their right to rule.

Timor misadventure

The world has long known about the East Timorese death toll. Now retired Lt-Col SUBIYANTO speaks out about Indonesian casualties.

Murder in the cathedral

IRIP NEWS SERVICE speaks with a member of Dili's Catholic Commission for Education and uncovers an assassination attempt against Nobel prize winner Bishop Belo

The East Timor peace process

Heike Krieger, East Timor and the international community: Basic documents, Cambridge University Press, 1997, 494+xxviii pp, hardcover, Rrp AU$160.Geoffrey C. Gunn, East Timor and the United Nations: The case for intervention, Lawrenceville, N.J: Red Sea Press, 1997, 241+vi pp, paperback, Rrp US$19.95. Avail: Red Sea Press, 11-D Princess Road, Lawrenceville, N.J., USA 08648-2319; fax: 1-609-844-0198. Reviewed by RICHARD TANTER

Indonesian spying on East Timorese exiles

PETER CRONAU and MATTHEW BROWN find that Cold War methods live on in Indonesian consulates around Australia.

Travels in West Timor

SIMON ANDREWARTHA discovers a quiet invasion by outsiders, even in the remotest villages.

Indonesians for East Timor

A small but growing Indonesian movement supports self-determination in East Timor, for the sake of Indonesian democracy

From the place of the dead - The epic struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor

Review: Biographies of even undisputed heroes can be problematic

Left over from death

Timorese women raped by Indonesian militias need justice. So do all the other women who survived New Order abuse

Bravo the cat

Life among Papuan and Timorese political prisoners in Jakarta

In this issue

Viva Timor Lorosae!

East Timor on the Net

The latest on this new nation at your fingertips

By the book, please

East Timorese students in Yogyakarta suffer intimidation

The Oecussi-Ambeno enclave

What does the future hold for this neglected territory?

Claiming justice amid the ruins

A remarkable grass-roots reconciliation meeting in Ainaro

The Indonesian who joined Falintil

Why did Nasir join the guerrillas?

Meet Titi Irawati

An Indonesian human rights worker in East Timor

What about the workers?

Now is the time to create a fairer system

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