Fake clemency for Gusmao condemned
By Max Lane
SYDNEY — Spokespersons for the East Timorese liberation movement in Sydney attending the August 14-15 People to People Conference condemned the fake clemency given to resistance leader Xanana Gusmao by Indonesian President Suharto on August 13.
Announced in Jakarta as an act of clemency by Suharto, Gusmoa's sentence has been reduced from life to 20 years. For 47-year-old Gusmoa, the change can only seem greatly academic.
Timorese exiles condemned the reduction of Gusmoa's sentence, as it implied that he had accepted the authority of the Indonesian government. They said Gusmoa had never approved an appeal for presidential clemency submitted by his Indonesian lawyer.
"This is an affront to human dignity. Xanana must be released immediately and unconditionally and we will step up our campaign for his release and for comprehensive sanctions", exiled East Timorese independent activist Jose Ramos Horta said in a statement from Geneva.
In the meantime, Jakarta continues to bar both the Red Cross and Gusmoa's family from visiting him. Nobody has been able to see him since his trial ended last May.
In a statement issued from its London headquarters Amnesty International said the reduction of Gusmao's imprisonment to 20 years was designed to appease the international community. "Amnesty International has remained seriously concerned about the health of Xanana Gusmao throughout his detention", it said.
Amnesty said it had received reports that Gusmoa had been beaten while in custody. It was unable to confirm such reports.
On August 13 Indonesian authorities moved Gusmoa from the provincial capital of Dili to Semarang's Kedungpane penitentiary in central Java. Amnesty said the move would make it harder for family members to visit him. Jakarta has said he will be treated as a "normal prisoner" but have his own room.