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Subject: APCET Statement on Habibie's Pronouncement on East Timor
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 17:38:51 +0800
From: Initiatives for International Dialogue <>


B. J. Habibie is only being consistent being the deposed dictator’s virtual adopted son and favorite crony when he announced that his government’s fundamental policy on East Timor will not change. At most, Habibie says he is open to granting a special status of the territory and to release East Timorese political prisoners but only – he insists, if East Timor remain integrated with Indonesia. This, he asserts, is his bottomline.

The undisputed East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao is still languishing in prison as with other political prisoners. And in an apparent slip in a recent interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation , Habibie says that he was willing to release all prisoners including those fighting in the mountains if they agree to his condition of integration. He also regards the mountains of East Timor a prison. Nothing is farther than the truth as this but evidently reflects the reality of the entire territory. Clearly, like his mentor Suharto, Habibie seems bent not to heed the clamor from all over -- including that of UN Secretary- General Kofi Anan -- to release East Timorese political prisoners-- unconditionally.

This but re-affirms the certitude that East Timor’s freedom will not be gained at the expense of Indonesia’s. It will not piggyback on another people’s struggle. It will come, nay, be won by the East Timorese people themselves. As Indonesia’s total reformasi and democracy will also be realized by the Indonesian masses themselves.

It will not come as token expressions of freedom parceled out by the current crop of sputtering powers holed up at Jakarta’s Merdeka palace. It will not emanate from pressure by Western governments or multilateral agencies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Freedom will come even if the United States continue to drill Indonesian military officers on the art of torture and counter-insurgency under its Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET ) and International Military Education Training ( IMET ) programs. Self-determination will come even if countries like the United Kingdom continue to sell mass weapons of destruction to Indonesia and betray the East Timorese with a total accommodation of Indonesia in UN human rights commission hearings in Geneva despite earlier promises of support for the position of East Timor. It will come even if the entire European Union bloc allows itself to be carted by the Blair government in their miscalculated desire for a foothold in Indonesia’s market by appeasing a dictator who would be booted out a couple of weeks afterwards by his own people.

Freedom will come even if Australia continues its de jeure recognition of Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor as its 27th province while it continues to plunder the Timor Gap sea for oil.

It will come even if the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) cling to a warped policy of avowed non-interference in internal human rights issues within its member nations and thus perpetuate a conspiracy of silence on the genocide in East Timor and in the other atrocities in the region. This avowed silence was again deafening when not one ASEAN government said anything about the brutal deaths and killings of Indonesian students during the recent riots that led to Suharto’s departure. All they did was to belatedly send dilapidated airplanes to evacuate their nationals.

Even then, governments including those of ASEAN are slowly buckling under the collective pressure of their civil societies on the question of human rights and that of East Timor in particular.

It comes while the dawn of democracy in Indonesia is becoming more possible as the stream of Indonesian masses continue to pound the remaining ramparts of Suharto-ism. Yes, Suharto may have retreated backstage, but has this fundamentally changed anything yet? Is Indonesia free? Is East Timor free?

Even then, the booting out of Suharto by an enraged Indonesian populace crystallizes the illegitimate rule of Indonesia’s erstwhile strongman not only over his own people but more so over another sovereign nation which he presided to brutally occupy in 1975 and these past two decades or so. Suharto's ignominious exit not only further affirms the illegitimate occupation of East Timor but confirms the non-recognition of the United Nations of this illegal annexation. Even then, Suharto’s seeming downfall is still a battle won by the forces of democracy. We can only beseech that this process hasten the dismantling of the unjust structures that has propped up the rejected Suharto regime.

Habibie’s latest seeming gung-ho stance falls flat in the face. It is actually a desperate attempt to skirt the tide of history that East Timor will eventually be free. It is a clear signal of defeat to dangle a “special status” carrot to the East Timorese.

We are confident that the East Timorese will not fall prey to this ruse. That is why we call on all supporters of East Timor’s right to self-determination to rally behind the East Timorese’ rejection of this offer and persist in collectively bringing genuine freedom to the territory the soonest possible time.

That is our only cause.

And self-determination is the East Timorese people’s only bottomline.

09 June 1998

Gus Miclat Coordinator APCET

-- Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) 27-D Galaxy Street, GSIS Heights Matina, Davao City, 8000 Philippines Telefax: (63)(82) 299-2052 Tel: (63)(82) 299-2574 to 75 Web:

IID is also maintaining the following web sites: - Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) @ - Mindanao-Palawan Peoples Network on BIMP-EAGA (MPPN) @

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