East Timor: 'No' to talks with puppets

Issue 

By Mitchell Hamilton

The East Timorese resistance has rejected a proposal from Jakarta that it hold talks with East Timorese collaborators with the Indonesian occupation forces.

Jose Ramos-Horta, an official of the National Council of Maubere (Timorese) Resistance, said he was "prepared to meet with Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas at any time and any place he might nominate, but will never accept tactics which seek to divert attention from the problem", in an interview reported by Reuters.

"The problem is not between the people of East Timor and their resistance leaders against a few puppets on Indonesia's payroll ... It is between Indonesia and the United Nations, whose resolutions it ignores", he said.

On July 20 Indonesian President Suharto agreed for the first time to a proposal for talks between Timorese who accept Jakarta's 1976 annexation and Timorese who oppose Indonesian rule. The proposal was first made by Indonesians close to military intelligence, BAIS.

According to the British-based Indonesian Campaign for Human Rights — Tapol, the idea was first mooted in interviews by Indonesian journalist Petrus Suryadi during a visit to Lisbon. Suryadi, who writes for the Jakarta daily Suara Pembaruan, has close links to BAIS, through the Indonesian military attachés in Brussels and The Hague. His trip to Lisbon is known to have taken place at their instigation.

The regime's "offer" is both a response to increased international criticism of Suharto's policy and a tactic to portray the East Timorese as divided. Apart from the East Timorese working with the occupation forces, only a few East Timorese exile figures have supported the plan.

Fretilin, UDT and CNRM — the three main forces

in East Timor — have all rejected the proposal. The East Timorese puppet figures, including Suharto's special representative, Francisco Xavier Lopes da Cruz, have no real power or popular base.

In a statement on the anniversary of Indonesia's formal annexation of East Timor (July 17), Ramos-

Horta emphasised that the resistance was willing to participate in discussions and even to approach the self-determination issue through stages. The CNRM presented a peace proposal to the European Parliament in Brussels in April 1992, to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in May 1992 and later to the UN.

The CNRM proposal involves three phases. Phase one, which would last for about two years, would involve all three parties working with the UN to implement a wide range of "confidence building measures", including a drastic reduction of Indonesian troops and weaponry in East Timor, and the introduction of a significant UN presence. Phase two, lasting between five and 10 years, would be a period of genuine political autonomy based on a local, democratically elected People's Assembly. Phase three would be a referendum to determine the final status of the territory.

Meanwhile, on July 21 the official Indonesian Antara news agency said military authorities in East Timor will not tolerate any separatist aspirations. Antara quoted Major General Theo Syafei as saying separatism and opposition to Indonesia's state ideology "do not need to be tolerated and we should not even hesitate to put them into order".