Timor: Time to talk peace


The following is excerpted from a statement written by East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, head of the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM), to the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in New York, July 27, 1992. It was translated from the Portuguese and delivered by Jose Ramos-Horta, external spokesperson of the CNRM.

In the history of the struggle against colonial expansionism, the oppressed peoples were always left with no alternative but to resort to violence to assert their rights in the face of the arrogant use of force by the colonisers. This is what happened to us when we were brutally invaded on December 7, 1975. Till this very day we are resisting the Indonesian criminal military occupation by all means available to us, including armed resistance.

However, we are in the midst of a historical whirlwind. Totalitarian regimes are now on the path towards full respect for fundamental freedoms. Dictatorships in the Third World, installed by the West, are being overthrown in the face of popular protests. Humanity is indeed on the road towards a new world order.

We have to continue to build a new world order that is based on the elimination of all the evils that affect so many regions of this planet. This committee has the daunting task of sweeping from the face of the Earth all the manifestations of colonialism.

Regrettably, some member states use double standards on identical situations, namely, East Timor and Kuwait.

We are certain that East Timor will not be an exception in the decolonisation process. Indonesia,

a member of this august body, used it in the past as a forum to denounce Portuguese colonialism. Now again it is using this committee as a forum to defend its own colonial aggression, annexation and military occupation of East Timor in complete disregard for the relevant Security Council Resolutions 384 (1975) and 389 (1976).

It was only yesterday that the world was divided into two major military blocs, both sides using at will the veto power to preserve their respective spheres of influence. We note with consternation that even after the dismantling of the old Soviet empire and the Communist bloc, the West continues to make use of its veto power whenever just causes affect its economic interests.

More than 200,000 dead and continuing persecution, imprisonment and massacres are the balance of more than 16 years of our resistance to Indonesia's military occupation of our country.

The November 12 massacre of East Timorese civilians jolted the international conscience. Some governments, even though accomplices in the physical, ethnic and cultural genocide of our people, were not able to hide their horror in the face of the Santa Cruz massacre. However, a few months have elapsed, and their conscience slipped back to business as usual.

The images of the massacre revealed the nature of the annexation of East Timor. November 12 underscored the historical fact that people's nationalism cannot be liquidated by repression, nor can it be alienated by so-called economic development.

A referendum process is now in preparation in Western Sahara. We are perplexed by the news that Indonesia reportedly offered a contingent to participate in the UN multinational force in Western Sahara.

Indonesia claims that the people of East Timor have already chosen integration by "free will". If this is the case, then why so many restrictions in East Timor? If this is so, why does it fear a ratification of the act under international supervision? If this is so, why did it create so many obstacles that aborted the projected Portuguese parliamentary mission to East Timor? Why did Indonesia close the territory following the November 12 massacre? Why are foreign visitors subjected to pro-Indonesia criteria? Why does East Timor remains closed to international humanitarian organisations?

The new democracies, conscious that they are part of the community of nations, have shown political good will by inviting international supervision of their inaugural electoral processes. Why does the international community allows East Timor to remain a large prison?

Any solution must be based on respect for the expressed will of the people of East Timor.

Dialogue without preconditions preserves the mutual interests of the parties to the conflict. Both Portugal and the Maubere people are ready for dialogue. However, the government of Indonesia, enjoying the status of beneficiary of Western economic and financial largesse, feels strong enough to reject the inclusion of the East Timorese themselves in the peace talks. We continue to invite Indonesia to round-table talks and we reaffirm our political will in endeavouring to find the best way to balance the interests of all parties to the conflict.

Portugal, the administering power recognised by the UN, stands for a process of dialogue with the inclusion of the East Timorese, without preconditions.

The special representative of the National Council of Maubere Resistance, Mr Jose Ramos-Horta,

conceived and outlined a set of key ideas with a view to contributing to a solution. Three elements emerge from this plan:

a. the territory remains under UN responsibility until a final solution of the problem;

b. the role of Portugal has to be seen in the context of its commitment to engage in dialogue with Indonesia;

c. we wish to create favourable political conditions so that through democratic means and in a peaceful climate each party may persuade the people about the advantages of its policies. An act of self-determination, as the result and goal of this transition period, would be the true political act of free choice by our people.

I reaffirm our collective political will to abide by the popular verdict if the Maubere people, under international supervision, decide to opt for integration with the Republic of Indonesia.

In an independent East Timor we will strive to have privileged relations of friendship and cooperation between our two peoples; we will strive to promote the instruments of bilateral and regional cooperation in the framework of ASEAN. We will spare no effort to enhance ASEAN and its role in promoting political and economic cooperation as well as promoting the region as a zone of peace and prosperity.

An independent East Timor will seek membership of the South Pacific Forum. We share the same aspirations with the small island states of the Pacific, and we will strive to foster cooperation for the benefit of our peoples.

An independent East Timor will reject the existence of armed forces as our real contribution towards regional and world peace.

We hope that the Indonesian leaders understand our message of peace, our gesture of reconciliation, and that our resistance is not aimed at the Indonesian state or people. In equal circumstances of rights and obligations, we will know how to honour the friendship that the great Indonesian nation may offer us.

We appeal to the Special Committee on Decolonisation to spare no effort to see to it that the UN relevant resolutions on East Timor are fully implemented.

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