Subject: Ramos-Horta's 'forgiving' stance under fire

also Ramos-Horta 'out of touch' over amnesties: Timor opposition

Ramos-Horta's 'forgiving' stance under fire

ABC News 31st August 2009

By Indonesia correspondent Geoff Thompson

As East Timor celebrates a decade of self-rule, President Jose Ramos-Horta has called for an end to all United Nations-led investigations into the serious crimes committed along the nation's road to independence.

But it is a controversial stance, and a victim of the violence in 1999 says she is now ashamed of her country's head of state.

Last night, Indonesian pop star Krisdayanti flirted with tens of thousands of East Timor's people and danced on stage with the two giants of the country's struggle for independence - Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Mr Ramos-Horta.

It took place on Dili's foreshore in front of the Portuguese-built governor's offices, which were overtaken by Indonesia's administrators and now house East Timor's own leaders.

And where Krisdayanti danced last night was exactly the place where, 10 years ago, journalists watched militia leader Eurico Guterres call for his men to find and kill independence supporters.

And that is exactly what they did, including an attack on the house of Manuel Carrascalao, which took the life of his young teenage son.

But such crimes should no longer be investigated by the United Nations Serious Crimes Unit, Mr Ramos-Horta said yesterday.

He said the money would be better spent on East Timor's young judiciary.

"My stated preference, both as a human being, victim, and head of state, is that we, once and for all, move that 1975-99 chapters of our tragic experience, forgive those who did harm to us," he said.

"We must forgive our brothers and sisters and those in the Indonesian army who committed heinous crimes against us."

I first met Christine Carrascalao in 1999 when, strong but utterly distraught, she attended a Sunday Mass just two days after Eurico's men killed her little brother, known as Manuelita.

Ten years later, she does not agree with her President's ideas of justice and forgiveness.

"Justice is not about forgiving. It is about setting what is right and what is wrong," she said.

"What you've done wrong in killing, murder, torture, you should teach them a lesson that it cannot happen again because there will be punishment.

"You cannot just say, sure it is fine, we'll let everything go simply because we want to. That should not be on."

Ms Carrascalao says she is ashamed of her President.

"For not asking for justice, yes. For being afraid to ask for justice, yes. Yes, I am," she said.



8/31/2009 8:58 AM GMT

Agence France-Presse

Ramos-Horta 'out of touch' over amnesties: Timor opposition

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta is out of touch with the people over his refusal to accept an international tribunal to try perpetrators of past atrocities, the opposition said Monday.

The Nobel laureate came under fire for his trenchant criticism of international justice during a speech Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of a historic referendum which effectively ended Indonesia's military occupation.

"The president is out of step with the people on the issue of amnesties," Fretilin party spokesman Jose Teixeira said.

"We have to enforce all laws in our country and do so equally to all, free of political interference and external considerations."

Ramos-Horta has offered Indonesian generals and their militia proxies amnesty for crimes against humanity committed during Indonesia's brutal 24-year military occupation of the tiny half-island.

In the interests of building better relations with East Timor's massive neighbour, he has rejected pressure from the United Nations and rights groups such as Amnesty International for suspects to be tried in court.

Indonesian former army chief Wiranto is among the senior officers who have been indicted by UN prosecutors over gross human rights abuses during the occupation, which claimed an estimated 100,000 lives.

In his anniversary speech, Ramos-Horta accused "those in the US and UK" of simplistically asserting that "the absence of prosecutorial justice fosters impunity and violence".

"My stated preference, both as a human being, victim and head of state, is that we, once and for all, close the 1975-1999 chapters of our tragic experience and forgive those who did harm to us," he said.

The president later danced on stage with Indonesian pop star Krisdayanti as she performed before thousands of people outside the government palace.

Teixeira said Ramos-Horta had no right to amnesty alleged war criminals.

"Only the parliament can pass a general amnesty law, not the president," he said.

The Indonesian Army and paramilitaries went on the rampage after the 1999 referendum, killing around 1,400 people and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to other parts of Indonesia.

Australian-led United Nations peacekeepers restored order, ending an occupation that is estimated to have claimed around 100,000 lives through fighting, disease and starvation.

East Timor formally became independent in 2002.

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