Xanana sends message from prison

November 23, 1994

By Max Lane

"November 12 reflected the tenacity of the struggle for freedom and justice. November 12 was the sound of the trumpet of Timorese youth announcing to the world their revolt against the denial of fundamental rights of the East Timorese people. November 12 was the sound of the trumpet announcing our repudiation of the complicity of the Western countries in the systematic violation of human rights in the territory. November 12 also stressed the willingness of the Maubere people to reach a negotiated solution, and appealed to the international community not to forget its responsibilities ..."

These words opened a message from Xanana Gusmao smuggled from Cipinang prison on the occasion of the third anniversary of the 1991 demonstration and massacre at Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili.

Xanana's statement repeated the East Timorese resistance's appeal to the United Nations to "embrace its responsibilities regarding the juridical and legal status of the territory in tune with the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions". The UN does not recognise Indonesia's occupation but recognises Portugal as the administering power.

The statement also appealed to Portugal "not to ease its historical, juridical, political and cultural responsibilities demanded by its own Constitution".

Xanana called on Indonesia to "recognise the seriousness of the problem, the need for dialogue and the need to respect the substance of the problem". He appealed to the "international community" to influence Jakarta towards finding a just and lasting solution.

Referring to recent meetings between Indonesian representatives and pro-Indonesian Timorese led by Abilio Araujo, Xanana noted that even Bishop Belo classified Araujo as a "businessman". Xanana went on to reveal the extent of Indonesian financing of Araujo's recent travels in the US. Meanwhile, Xanana noted, Indonesian parliamentarian Salvador Ximenes had clarified the concept of the East Timorese resistance as comprising the church of East Timor, UDT, Fretilin and CNRM, without whose participation no solution could be reached.

Referring to a meeting in New York between Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas and the East Timor Resistance Diplomatic Coordination Commission, comprising CNRM special representative Jose Ramos Horta, Fretilin and UDT, Xanana expressed uncertainty as to whether this initiative was just "occasional rhetoric aimed at easing the criticisms against the violation of human rights in Indonesia, and, moreover, in East Timor, or whether it signals serious political good will" on the part of Indonesia.

Xanana went on to say the East Timorese would welcome any such "courageous gesture" by Suharto. "We firmly believe that it will take more years of suffering from our people before such an apparent show of good will becomes a reality."

Xanana also called for the unconditional release of all East Timorese political prisoners. He lamented that "For all that is taking place now, to the extent that even President Suharto declares his readiness to talk to 'anti-integration' personalities", East Timorese are being "imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to imprisonment, and more than 100 are buried in common pits ..."

Xanana ended his statement with words of appreciation for the legal action against an Indonesian general taken in a US court by the mother of Kamal, the New Zealander killed at the Santa Cruz massacre.

He listed the succession of military commanders in East Timor, saying that some were less assassins than others, "but all are assassins". The commanders change, but "Only East Timor remains in its place, submerging in its geographic fate", said Xanana, commenting perhaps on East Timor's oil, "the prime condition which has caused it to sink in the complexities of economic relations, which turned it into an unpleasant question for Western hypocrisy, so well portrayed in the film Death of a Nation."

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