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Subject: ETISC: Habibie must respect spirit of 1945 Constitution
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998 16:21:38 +0000
From: "East Timor International Support Center" <> Organization: East Timor International Support Center

East Timor International Support Center PO Box 651, Nightcliff Darwin 0814, NT, Australia web-site:

MEDIA RELEASE Monday, August 17, 1998

Habibie must respect the spirit of 1945 Constitution

Today marks the 53rd year of Indonesia's proclamation of independence from the Dutch.

The preamble of the 1945 Constitution, promulgated on August 17 that year states the "Republic of Indonesia only desires the former Dutch Indies and nothing more than that." And that was accepted by the United Nations. The preamble also stated: "True freedom is the right of all nations and therefore colonisation as an inhuman and unjust practice must be eradicated throughout the world."

The invasion of East Timor in 1975, by the Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) and its annexation a year later as Indonesia's 27th province is totally against the 1945 Constitution. East Timor was a former Portuguese enclave and not part of the Dutch Indies. The founding fathers of the Republic of Indonesia never intended to annex East Timor forcefully, but General Suharto completely disregarded that.

The result has been a colossal loss of lives. Over 200,000 East Timorese, a third of the population, lost their lives in the years following the invasion. To date the United Nations has never recognised Indonesia's annexation of the territory and still considers Portugal as East Timor's administrator.

The atrocities committed in East Timor, in the name of the Republic of Indonesia, is nothing short of the atrocities perpetrated by the Serbs against the Bosnians in the former Yugoslavia.

Yesterday, on the eve of the independence day celebrations, President BJ Habibie apologised to the Indonesian people for human rights abuses under his predecessor, Suharto.

Habibie was not part of the Suharto Cabinet, at that time, that made fatal decisions against the invasion of East Timor. Therefore he, as the most influential person in Indonesia at this point in time, is in a strong position to find a peaceful lasting solution to the East Timor problem. ETISC urges President Habibie to adhere to the spirit of the 1945 Constitution, especially the provision guaranteeing freedom to all nations and condemning colonisation as an inhuman and unjust practice.

The "special status" proposal offered by the Habibie government for East Timor, sidesteps demands for a referendum and the release of jailed leader Xanana Gusmao. Therefore, the proposal is clearly flawed. The East Timorese people must be allowed to exercise their right of self-determination in a referendum. Also, Xanana Gusmao's release must be a precondition of any settlement because he is the only political leader with real acceptance and credibility among the people of East Timor.

Any attempts by the international community, to find a solution to the East Timor problem, will be fruitless unless a referendum is held in the troubled territory.

For further information please contact Maria Ceu Federer at +61-8-89484458 or Sonny Inbaraj at +61-8-8985-5529. 'EAST TIMOR ON THE NET' For the latest updates, news and views on East Timor and Indonesia Visit maintained by the East Timor International Support Center Hon Chairman: Jose Ramos-Horta Nobel Peace Laureate 1996

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