Subject: Bishop Belo calls for reconciliation with Indonesia

East Timor Nobel laureate Bishop Belo calls for reconciliation with Indonesia

BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom, Sep 7, 2001

Source: The National web site, Port Moresby, in English 7 Sep 01

Text of report by Colin Taimbari, carried by Papua New Guinea newspaper The National web site on 7 September

Nobel Peace Prize winner and Catholic Bishop of Dili in East Timor Carlos Belo has called on the people and government of Papua New Guinea to help them on their journey towards becoming a new country. Addressing the inaugural Singkai Lecture (in memory of the late Bishop Gregory Singkai) at the Catholic Theological Institute at Bomana outside Port Moresby yesterday, Bishop Belo said that through PNG's help, they can build a democratic, peaceful and just society.

He said as an independent nation, East Timor would like to maintain ties with its former colonial master Indonesia and others in the Asia-Pacific region including Australia, New Zealand and PNG. Despite years of suppression by the Indonesian regime and the massacre of thousands of East Timorese in 1999 by the military-backed militia, the general sentiment is to try to "forgive and forget".

"We appealed to the (East Timorese) people not to take revenge," he added.

He said a National Commission for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation has been established to bring those responsible to justice as well as find a lasting peace in East Timor. Bishop Belo said "a new sun is rising in East Timor" and as an independent state, East Timor should be able to liberate the people from injustice, inequality and suppression. Because, despite material progress in the past two years since 3,000 people were killed, these events still live on in his people's minds.

"They need justice and only justice will lead to reconciliation," he added.

Bishop Belo said it was his people's heartfelt hope that the new constitution for the country will spell unity, hope, security, peace and prosperity.

More than 400,000 people turned up for the first free elections in East Timor in August and a new government of 15 members will be appointed on 15 September, to lead the constituent assembly. Bishop Belo said it was unclear at this stage when independence will occur but for now, East Timor will remain under United Nations supervision.

On the issue of West Papua, Bishop Belo said his people will continue to pray for their brothers and sisters on the other side and he urged them to continue to use peaceful means through dialogue.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony before Indonesian occupation in the early 1970s, has more than 520,000 Catholics and the church hopes to increase that number once new areas are opened up after independence.

Bishop Belo said the church has purposely stayed away from the political developments so far but hopes to push the new leaders to practice Christian principles.


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