Subject: Idaho Statesman: Nobel winner offers U.S. some advice

Idaho Statesman 
October 10, 2001 Wednesday

Nobel winner offers U.S. some advice

By April Rushing The Idaho Statesman

Jose Ramos-Horta has seen the effects of terrorists attacks.

His native country, East Timor, has endured decades of torture and bloodshed through the hands of neighboring Indonesia.

But when the Nobel Peace Prize recipient learned of the Sept. 11 attacks on America, he was shocked.

"I find it extraordinary that the U.S. is blamed for the lack of peace in Middle Eastern countries, when no other country has invested more time and efforts to restore peace there," Ramos-Horta told reporters Tuesday.

Ramos-Horta, in Idaho to give a lecture at Boise State University, is known for his efforts to help his native country gain independence.

He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for those efforts.

The country became independent in 1999.

Despite losing almost 800,000 people during battles with Indonesia, Ramos-Horta said the people of East Timor have never retaliated violently against Indonesia.

Although he supports America's efforts, Ramos-Horta said the nation should think carefully about the actions it is taking.

"Do not generalize and charge all Muslims with something so horrible," Ramos-Horta said.

Ramos-Horta said Americans should be careful not to let go of their centuries-old freedoms.

"My message to America is not to despair, not to fear terrorists," Ramos-Horta said. "The U.S. should not abandon its own values and customs that have made it great and will make it greater still."

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Copyright 2001 The Idaho Statesman

Idaho Statesman

October 9, 2001 Tuesday

Reader's View

Speaker offers an insight into the power of one voice

BY Shelton Woods

In the course of recent history, certain individuals have become identified with humanitarian movements. Mahatma Gandhi struggled to give Indians an independent country. A few years later, Nelson Mandela languished in prison while apartheid died too slow a death. The Dalai Lama travels the globe to give the oppressed Tibetan people a voice. There is another -- perhaps lesser-known -- individual who has visited countless countries to speak out for the oppressed people of his beloved country. He is Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta; his country is East Timor.

His story, one he brings to Boise State University tonight, demonstrates the power of one voice. His life is a testament to the difference an individual can make.

Born on Dec. 26, 1949, in Dili, East Timor, Ramos-Horta was raised in a country ruled by Portugal since 1520. At the age of 20, he was exiled to Mozambique for two years. His alleged crime was political subversion. In truth, Ramos-Horta, like the leaders mentioned above, merely advocated political awareness. Upon his return, Ramos-Horta, through his writings, encouraged the various factions in East Timor to unite and peacefully oust the outdated colonial regime.

By 1975, the existing government was replaced by an indigenous-led movement, and it appeared that the dreams of a truly independent East Timor would come to fruition. Unfortunately, neighboring Indonesia refused to recognize the independence of the archipelago's peripheral island. Indonesian troops invaded East Timor, and during the course of the next few years, 200,000 -- or approximately one-third of East Timor's citizens -- died due to the atrocities of the Indonesian occupying force.

Indonesia identified Ramos-Horta as a poisonous element in East Timor. Fleeing for his life, Ramos-Horta left East Timor in 1975 and would be absent from his home for almost a quarter-century. His passion for freedom and for his fellow citizens drove him to New York to speak to the United Nations. He lived in the United States, Australia and various European countries during the next several years. At every opportunity, he reminded his listeners of his small country's fight for human rights and independence. It was a tough sell. Most people have never heard of East Timor, and many are unable to locate it on a map East Timor and its 200,000 casualties were someone else's problem.

It is a testament to Dr. Ramos-Horta's tenacity that he has not allowed the global community to ignore East Timor's plight. To be sure, he had personal reasons for his crusade, as the Indonesian occupying force murdered four of his siblings. However, Ramos-Horta's motives transcend his own interests and include humanitarian interests around the world. He is at the forefront of democracy movements globally. In a recent speech, he acknowledged the global aspects of human rights, declaring: "The peoples of Burma, Thailand, Tibet, the Philippines, South Korea, the democracy movements in China and Indonesia are telling the rest of the world that the struggle for democracy and human rights is not an invention of the West."

Yet, Ramos-Horta's primary task has been to tell the story of East Timor. In 1987, he published the critically acclaimed, "Funu: The Unfinished Saga of East Timor. " Nine years later, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. His determination has borne much fruit. Against all odds, the Indonesia government, in 1999, allowed East Timor to have a referendum on independence. An overwhelming majority cast their votes for independence, and the Indonesian tanks and soldiers left East Timor. Ramos-Horta returned to his country and participated in the first round of national elections in August of this year. His voice continues to be heard.

L. Shelton Woods is the interim associate dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs at Boise State University and a history professor. He specializes in Southeast Asia studies.

Lecture tonight

Nobel Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta will speak at 7 p.m. today in the Jordan Ballroom of the Boise State University Student Union as part of the university's Distinguished Lecture Series. The lecture is free, and the public is invited.

L. Shelton Woods is the interim associate dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs at Boise State University and a history professor. He specializes in Southeast Asia studies.

Shelton Woods

 

 


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