Subject: XANANA: Autonomy would help East Timor prepare for self-determination
Date: Sun, 20 Sep 1998 13:43:18 +0100
From: "Paula Carvalho Pinto" <paularoque@mail.telepac.pt>

Autonomy would help East Timor prepare for self-determination: Xanana

Sun 20 Sep 98 - 02:13 GMT

JAKARTA, Sept 20 (AFP) - East Timor can use Indonesia's offer of autonomy to the former Portuguese colony to create a "climate of tolerance" to prepare for self-determination, says resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.

In an interview with AFP -- the answers were smuggled out of Jakarta's Cipinang jail where he is serving a 20 year sentence -- Xanana said East Timorese want an immediate referendum but that conditions are not yet ripe.

"Our people have already suffered too much over the past 23 years," he said in his replies, written in Portuguese and dated September 16 and delivered to AFP late Friday.

"We accept autonomy as a run-up to a referendum. A period of transition will create a climate of political tolerance and wipe out the last vestiges of the legacy of vengeance and hatred," said Xanana, the president of the Timorese National Council of Resistance.

According to Xanana, Indonesia's decision to enter into detailed discussions with Portugal on autonomy for the territory annexed by Jakarta in 1976 signifies "no concession" on the part of Indonesian authorities.

"Jakarta is just firing its last rounds of ammunition ... but we will always hold to our right to self determination and national independence. And the last word belongs to our people," Xanana said.

The resistance leader believes that "you cannot expect anything rational or constructive" from Indonesia's current President B.J. Habibie and his "so called reform's government".

"Jakarta creates ridiculous situations for itself. For example on the one hand I have not been freed because I am classified as a common criminal, and on the other hand my freedom depends on an overall solution," to the East Timor problem.

"But while Jakarta cannot stop me recieving visitors who come to talk with me on the East Timor problem," he said, refering to visits he has received in prison from UN representatives and South African President Nelson Mandela, "Habibie would not be very comfortable if one day he had to enter talks with a prisoner."

Xanana said he felt the presence of the United Nations in the territory when Timorese were drawn into negotiations on their future would be "vital."

"The Indonesian government lies and no one trusts it. The propaganda of a troop withdrawal from East Timor is the latest deception that Jakarta tried to pull on the world."

In fact, according to Xanana, it was "a routine troop rotation which allowed the Indonesians to bring into the territory" 7,000 more troops.

In addition "two thousand of them crossed the border, and launched an operation from Maliana and Balibo in the direction of Hatulia, Ermera and Atsabe and continued on to Aileu, Ainaro and Same towards the heart of the territory.

"At the same time 5,000 men who entered through Kou and Los Palos, pushed out to the east passing through Lore, Iliomar, Baguai and Watu Karbau and went on through Vikeke and Ossu also towards the center."

"This shows that the United Nations must deploy peace keepers (like the New Zealand troops in Bougainville), and also a police force including Timorese."

The disarming of repressive paramilitary forces and the situation of the resistance forces will depend on the presence of UN troops, he said.

"They (the UN) could also monitor the situation on the border to prevent ABRI (the Indonesian armed forces) from incursions to try to destabilize the territory," he said.

"Other UN organizations such as UNICEF and UNESCO, the FAO and the UNHCR should also be represented in the territory "to help the people rebuild" their country, he said.

© 1998 Agence France-Presse

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