Subject: Downer on East Timor
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 00:31:06 +1000
From: (Geoffrey Heard)

For immediate release: 10.30 pm AEST, Wednesday 19 August 1998
Australia on right track on East Timor at last

SYDNEY: The World President of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), João Carrascalão, has welcomed today's call by the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, for Indonesia to release East Timorese leader, Xanana Gusmão, from jail so he can participate in talks on East Timor's future. Mr Carrascalão was an observer at the recent talks on the issue at the United Nations in New York between Portugal and Indonesia.

"This is the first move in the right direction on East Timor by Australia. It is a very significant shift from only a few days ago when Mr Downer was openly pushing the Indonesian line that it must integrate East Timor, and condemning the East Timorese as incapable of determining their own future," Mr Carrascalão said. "If Australia is sincere about this it must be willing to go all the way. Xanana Gusmão and the East Timorese people in East Timor and around the world are not interested in empty tokenism. "Xanana Gusmão at the conference table will be talking East Timorese self-determination and East Timorese independence. "He will not be talking compromises that will keep the East Timorese people under the heel of a vicious, murderous and corrupt oppressor that has raped, shot, beaten, tortured and starved 200,000 East Timorese to death in the past 23 years of illegal occupation. "Will Australia support him and the East Timorese people in fight for self-determination and independence? I am sure the Australian people will; I hope Mr Downer and the Australian Government will too. "If so, then Mr Downer's statement amounts to the beginning of a 180 degree about face by Australia on the East Timor issue. Indonesia will be on the phone."

In Dili, Manuel Carrascalão, the 65 year old spokesperson for the Movement for Reconciliation and Unity for the Liberation of East Timor, has offered himself as a hostage to allow Xanana Gusmão to join the talks on East Timor.

Speaking during an interview on Portuguese television, Manuel Carrascalão said it was vital for East Timorese to participate in all future rounds of the talks. "Xanana Gusmão represents all East Timorese. If Indonesia is concerned about allowing him to go to the talks, then I will offer myself as a hostage until he returns," he said. João Carrascalão said he applauded Manuel Carrascalão's spirit, but hoped such extreme measures should not be necessary. "If President Habibie can't release Xanana Gusmão for the talks without someone standing surety for him, it will show total bad faith on Indonesia's part."

FURTHER INFORMATION: João Carrascalão, President, UDT % (02) 9823 5616 0418 767 101 Issued on behalf of UDT by Geoffrey Heard & Associates Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Geoffrey Heard MarketNOW Marketing - PR - Advertising that sells like crazy. Tel: +61 3 9583 0788 Email:

Back to August Menu
Back to Main Postings Menu