Subject: LUSA: Gusmao appeals for calm and tolerance
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <pet@web.net>

01 FEV 99 - 07:29 East Timor: Gusmao appeals for calm and tolerance

Jakarta, Febr 01 (Lusa) - East Timor's jailed guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao has appealed for an end to all violence in his occupied homeland. The appeal was made through a taped message in Tetum released in Jakarta on Sunday. Tetumm is East Timor's indigenous lingua franca. Gusmao urged his countrymen to all feelings of hatred and revenge. The message is planned to be broadcast by Portugal's international radio station RDP-Internacional.

Antonio Goncalves, Gusmao's lawyer, translated part of the message into the Portuguese language at the request of Portuguese journalists waiting outside the Cipinang Prison on the outskirts of Jakarta on Sunday. In the message, Gusmao appealed for calm and forgiveness among his compatriots. Goncalves said the Indonesian authorities were planning to move Gusmao from prison to house arrest in the near future, adding he would discuss the matter with his client on Tuesday. The Indonesian government reportedly plans to grant Gusmao house arrest in Jakarta or in Bandung, a city some 200 kilometres southeast of the Indonesian capital. Gusmao, 53, was detained by the Indonesian military on November 20, 1992. He is now serving a 20-year jail sentence. Meanwhile, Gusmao has asked the international community to pressurise Indonesia into disarming civilian militias in East Timor. Gusmao's appeal was transmitted by Maria Pakpahan, a member of the Solidarity for Peace in East Timor (Solidamor) movement, in Jakarta on Sunday.

According to Pakpahan, Gusmao also urged the people of East Timor to "create an atmosphere of tolerance" in their homeland that has been under Indonesian occupation since 1975. Pakphahan made the annoucement outside the Cipinang Prison after Gusmao had met several dozen East Timorese and Indonesians on Sunday morning. Indonesian press reports, including the respected Jakarta Post, said on Sunday that tension in East Timor was on the rise, namely because of armed pro-Indonesian militias spreading fear among the civil population. In a related development, prominent Indonesian opposition leader Sri Bintang Pamungkas demanded in Jakarta on Sunday Gusmao's immediate release from prison. The president of the Democratic Unity Party of Indonesia told Portuguese journalists outside the Cipinang Prison that East Timor could gain independence after elections in Indonesia in June. Pamungkas said Gusmao should take part in negotations with the Indonesian government about total independence for East Timor.

Roman Catholic Bishop Dom Ximenes Belo was quoted as saying by The Indonesian Observer on Saturday he was against immediate independence for East Timor because the territory was not yet ready for it. The newspaper published in Jakarta also quoted Belo, who is the apostolic administrator of Dili, as saying that immediate independence would necessarily lead to financial difficulties. The Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate reportedly told the newspaper that he preferred a special enlarged autonomy status to independence for East Timor. The English-language newspaper also said that according to Belo Jakarta's latest offer of independence was "not a good solution" to the problem of East Timor. Lusa/Fim

Copyright© 1996 Agência Lusa E-Mail Agência Lusa

Back to February Menu
Main Postings Menu

Postings of Human Rights Violations in Timor