Subject: East Timor Seeks U.N. War Crimes Tribunal

also: East Timor's Ramos-Horta has lesson for guerrillas

East Timor seeks U.N. war crimes tribunal

By Michael Christie

SYDNEY, May 30 (Reuters) - East Timor's foreign minister called on Wednesday for a U.N. war crimes tribunal, saying Indonesia had failed to prove it was willing to prosecute army officers for 1999 atrocities in the breakaway territory.

Nobel peace prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, foreign affairs minister for the U.N.-run East Timorese administration, also questioned moves in Washington to ease a ban on military contacts while Indonesia's army seemed reluctant to mend its ways.

On a visit to Australia, Ramos-Horta told Reuters in an interview that 10 to 20-month sentences imposed by an Indonesian court in May on six men found guilty of slaying three U.N. aid workers in West Timor were "an outrage" and an "affront."

"It makes a mockery of all of us," the veteran East Timorese freedom campaigner said.

"So it is time for all of us to drop the pretence that we can trust the Indonesian legal system, that we should give them time, and the (U.N.) Security Council must do what it is supposed to do and that is set up a war crimes tribunal."

The aid workers -- an American, a Croat and an Ethiopian -- were murdered in one of the bloodiest attacks on U.N. civilian personnel. They were stabbed and their bodies dragged into the street and set ablaze.


The U.N. transitional administrator in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, has called for greater efforts to prosecute those responsible for atrocities in East Timor in 1999, when the former Portuguese colony voted for independence from Jakarta.

The vote, ending 24 years of often brutal rule from Jakarta, sparked carnage as Indonesia-backed militia ran amok and over a quarter of East Timor's 900,000 people fled into neighbouring West Timor.

The U.N. estimates over 1,000 people were killed by militia.

East Timor's first elections are slated for August 30, with full independence expected in 2002.

A special U.N. court for East Timor would be no simple matter. The United Nations has only created two war crimes tribunals, one for Rwanda and one for former Yugoslavia.

But Ramos-Horta said his people had run out of patience.

"We are thoroughly, thoroughly disappointed. We feel cheated, betrayed by the Indonesian side," he said.

Ramos-Horta questioned the "wisdom and timing" of apparent moves within the U.S. government to relax a ban on military cooperation imposed after the East Timor bloodshed.

He said military elements appeared to have instigated some of the recent violence in Indonesia's restless provinces.


While he sympathised with the view in some Western capitals that maintaining Indonesia's territorial integrity was crucial to ensuring stability, "how best to pursue that is where we differ."

Ramos-Horta was due to give a speech in Sydney on Wednesday night, in which he planned to express East Timor's growing frustration at efforts to normalise relations with Indonesia.

"Bearing the scars of 25 years of occupation, we have walked half way to meet our tormentors carrying an olive branch," he says, according to excerpts.

"Yet we have been met by some with hatred as if we are the ones who had invaded, occupied, looted and raped."

Ramos-Horta said that fraying relations were not the fault of embattled Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who faces possible impeachment, but of hard-line elements in the military.

If Wahid is impeached, or stands down over his chaotic 19-month rule, popular Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri is the most likely to succeed him. She is seen as close to the military and likely to take a tough stance on separatism.

"The closeness of Megawati and the military raises concerns for us," Ramos-Horta said. "I hope they don't undermine some of the positive steps that have been taken by the two sides to put the past where it belongs."

East Timor's Ramos-Horta has lesson for guerrillas

By Michael Christie

SYDNEY, May 30 (Reuters) - Listen up all you guerrillas out there.

If you want to be a successful freedom fighter, whatever you do, don't kill any civilians.

That's the "fundamental difference" that allowed East Timorese independence campaigner Jose Ramos-Horta to walk the path from "terrorist" to freedom fighter and finally to cabinet member in his United Nations-run country-in-the-making.

"Without criticising any other movement, without criticising the IRA or PLO or others, I must say that our method of struggle was always a bit different to the IRA or the PLO," the Nobel peace prize winner said in an interview on Wednesday.

"Even our armed resistance movement in East Timor never once, never once I emphasise, killed one single Indonesian civilian. They engaged the Indonesian military in heroic epic battles but never targeted Indonesian school teachers, students, settlers, or the relatives of Indonesian military who were there."

Ramos-Horta's struggle began when Indonesian troops stormed the former Portuguese colony in 1975.

While East Timor's main battle for independence was fought against Jakarta's soldiers on the ground, Ramos-Horta, 51, began a two-decade global tour to woo governments and turn them against the often brutal Indonesian invaders.


At first he was rebuffed in most capitals, where Indonesia's former president Suharto was in vogue. Ramos-Horta and the like were "terrorists," Jakarta said.

But that changed in 1996 when Ramos-Horta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, turning the terrorist into freedom fighter.

Three years later, when Indonesia-backed militias went on the rampage after East Timor voted to secede, world public outrage persuaded the United Nations to step in, salvage the country and prepare it for independence, now expected by 2002.

Endless travel, endless days, harassed "a million times" by Indonesian agents and occasionally warned about death threats, the last quarter century of his life has been "tumultuous, a rollercoaster," Ramos-Horta told Reuters in Sydney.

"I can say only I was privileged, lucky enough to have had this opportunity to do this kind of work. Others who stayed behind in East Timor were far more heroic than I. At least I did not face death every hour of the day," the East Timorese foreign affairs chief, said.

Twenty-five years is a long time to be fighting for a cause that must have seemed unwinnable at times.

"No, I don't think I ever lost hope," he said, looking like a priest in his trademark black suit and crisp white shirt. "Maybe the word isn't hope. I never lost the illusion, the dream, I always had the illusion that one day East Timor would be free."


Ramos-Horta has another lesson for would-be freedom fighters. Freedom is by no means the end of the road.

East Timor was razed as Indonesia withdrew, and is still up

to three years away from being able to stand on its own.

"I wish we had a ready made country," he said, drawing parallels with Namibia and Zimbabwe, where independence did not mean the complete destruction of infrastructure by the apartheid regime or fleeing white farmers, respectively.

"East Timor reminded me in 1999 when I returned after 24 years, of Hiroshima, Dresden and London, practically everything was razed to the ground. There was not one single civil servant working, there was not one little shop," he said.

"In a bit over a year we have made miracles. And yet we still have a lot ahead of us to bring the country back to its feet."

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