|Subject: E Timor's Gusmao To Ask Albright To Stop Us
Military Aid To Indonesia
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:44:30 -0500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Maria Carrion, (212)209-2811 Allan Nairn, (212)662-3649
GUSMAO TO ASK ALBRIGHT TO STOP US MILITARY AID TO INDONESIA Also asks US to pressure Indonesia to withdraw military intelligence from East Timor
New York, March 3, 1999 - On the eve of his meeting with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, jailed East Timorese rebel Xanana Gusmao said the United States should cut off all training, weapons and ammunition sales to Indonesia, and called on Washington to pressure the Indonesian government to withdraw its military intelligence service from East Timor, which he blames for the establishment of paramilitary groups in the occupied territory.
In his first US radio interview since his 1992 arrest, given to Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! from Jakarta, Gusmao said that US military training and weapons sales to the Indonesian military is "preparing Indonesian killers to go to East Timor and kill East Timorese people." He added that US military education and weapons had played a part in the torture, killing and jailing of the Timorese population during the brutal 23-year Indonesian occupation of East Timor.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill) are introducing a bill in Congress this week that would cut off all US military training to Indonesia.
Asked if he believed that Indonesia would deliver on its promise to grant independence to East Timor if the Timorese rejected the option of becoming an autonomous region of Indonesia, Gusmao said that "President Habibie has to be aware that he has made a commitment to the international community," and so he was "not worried" that Indonesia would withdraw its promise to the Timorese.
Gusmao also told Pacifica Radio that if the east Timorese population is given the choice between autonomy and independence, "I am sure that they will choose independence." He added that he is in favor of forming a democratically-elected consultative assembly, which he said would "decide if east Timor accepts or rejects the question of autonomy" versus independence.
Gusmao said that the withdrawal of the Indonesian military and the disarmament of FALINTIL, the Timorese guerrilla group that he heads "must be enforced by a United Nations police force," which would then remain in East Timor for another six months to help "consolidate mutual confidence between the East Timorese." He said that the UN police force would assist in forming a new Timorese police force, composed of former guerrilla independence combatants, as well as Timorese who worked for the Indonesian military.
The Timorese rebel leader also reiterated charges that the Indonesian military intelligence is responsible for recent violence in East Timor, as well as the creation of paramilitary units in the territory. He said that the military intelligence service "gives weapons to the population" to promote instability and to "give the appearance that there would be a civil war" if east Timor were given independence.
Summing up 23 years of brutal military repression by Indonesia, which has killed an estimated one-third of East Timor's population, Gusmao said that Indonesia's military had attacked the population and conducted massacres because they "wrongly thought they could crush the spirit of the East Timorese." Instead, he said, "the military occupation has united the East Timorese, consolidated the nationalist spirit and created stronger patriotism."
The interview is available on the web at http://www.pacifica.org/programs/democracy_now/archives/d990303.html#2
Preliminary transcript of an Interview with
Xanana Gusmao Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now, March 3, 1999
Allan Nairn: Can you tell us who has created these militia groups, these paramilitaries that are now attacking civilians in East Timor?
Xanana Gusmao: We have concluded that it is [Indonesian] military intelligence. They organized the civilians and they gave them weapons to intimidate the population in order to create an appearance in East Timor that the situation is uncontrollable to show the international community that there would be some threat of civil war. In my opinion, it is the military intelligence service (SGI). It is part of a process that wants to create a situation of instability in East Timor and force Indonesian society, the international community to accept that if there is a referendum or an independence choice, there would be civil war.
Referendum AN: If the people of East Timor had a free choice in a referendum do you believe they would choose independence?
XG: I don't believe, I am sure. Only a few people who have received privileges during these 23 years [of Indonesian occupation] would want integration because they do so well during this time, or because they fear reprisals from [pro-]independence people. I have already assured them that nothing will happen to them if East Timor came to independent. They know a great majority of our people are asking for immediate independence. We have to accept a period under the United Nations to prepare ourselves.
AN: This January, Habibie said if people of East Timor reject autonomy, Indonesia would consider granting independence to East Timor. Do you believe that the Indonesian government is truly ready to grant independence?
XG: I don't see the question from this angle. I see this from another angle. President Habibie has to be aware that he has a commitment to the international community, not to the East Timorese community. I don't worry about his sincerity of the Indonesian government. The Indonesian government has a commitment to the international community. If East Timor people reject autonomy, we will have to be granted independence.
Meeting the Secretary of State AG: What do you plan to say to Madeleine Albright on Friday? XG: It is difficult question to answer, but I can say to you I will explain the real situation in the territory. I will explain the role of a 3rd party in the process and I will explain how we see the consultation process I will tell her about the need for a UN police force.
UN Police Force AN: Will you be calling for UN troops to come into East Timor or just unarmed UN personnel?
XG: United Nations police force, police presence.
AN: And why do you think that's necessary?
XG: We, Falintil, are ready to be disarmed, and we have asked for the disarmament of everyone, all parties: even the East Timorese in ABRI and the paramilitary groups who have fought against us, while ABRI has be withdrawn from East Timor
AN: And you would call for ABRI to be withdrawn from East Timor and a UN force to come into East Timor?
XG: Yes, there will be no peaceful consultation process if all parties are not disarmed. It is the best way to assure everybody that there could not be any chance, any possibility, of civil war.... ABRI has to be withdrawn from East Timor to permit a favorable atmosphere for the consultation process.
AN: How long will you expect the UN to stay in East Timor?
XG: During the consultation process, and I maybe for six months more, because we have to consolidate the reconciliation process. We have to show to each other that we are sincere in our commitments in the reconciliation before the consultation process. We have to consolidate mutual confidence between East Timorese, and I feel that six months would be enough for the UN police force to be there.
AN: After the six months and the UN police force leaves, what would happen then?
XG: After the disarmament process, the UN police force could select and instruct candidates from FALINTIL and East Timorese in ABRI and policemen formed by Indonesian government and create police corps of East Timorese [for] all territory. I think that if we get a peaceful process in the consultation period, we would get also a peaceful atmosphere [after] the consultation process. After three, six months we can work together to avoid any violence and any attempts at conflict.
Consultation Process AN: The Indonesian government has said they will not accept a referendum in East Timor. Without a referendum is there any way to determine the will of the people of East Timor? Is there any way to make a decision?
XG: We are trying to find a mechanism which [is both] democratic and representative... because if the choice is not democratic, it will not satisfy everybody and we are trying to seek the best mechanism.
AN: What kind of mechanism?
XG: Elections to choose a representatives to a consultative assembly. The consultative assembly will decide if the East Timor people accept or reject the proposal of autonomy.
The Militias AN: You have been meeting with various generals from the Indonesia armed forces. Have you discussed with them why they are creating and arming militias in East Timor?
XG: We have many arguments, but we already seen that there are some sections of ABRI who don't accept psychologically ... losing East Timor war. I mean the veterans of war and maybe they are ....the Kopassus faction, military service intelligence service faction.
U.S. Military Training AN: The Kopassus was for many years trained by the American military in sniper tactics, psychological warfare, etc. What impact did this support for the Indonesian army have on the conduct of the Indonesian army in Timor and within Indonesia itself?
XG: I think that the impact was in preparing Indonesian soldiers to go to East Timor to kill East Timorese people. I think the Kopassus is not a combat army, but an intelligence service of ABRI. In the war, in the 20 years of occupation, the Kopassus were involved in capturing, torturing, killing, jailing people. I think that the impact of this training by the U.S. of military education, was really bad in East Timor.
AN: There are now proposals in the U.S. Congress to cut off, to end, all weapons, ammunition and training to the Indonesian army, to stop supplying them. Do you think this would be a good idea, to stop supplying all weapons, all training, to ABRI?
XG: I think it is a good idea, but it is not enough. I think that as I told you the military intelligence service is doing very bad things in East Timor now. I would prefer that the US government could pressure the Indonesian government to end the SGI presence in East Timor. Because if Habibie has presented to the East Timorese two options, there is no more basis or argument for the SGI to stay there. Although I am sure that if SGI is brought out of East Timor, we East Timorese can work together, can meet each other to prepare ourselves for this crucial period of the consultation process.
The Presidency AG: Xanana Gusmao, do you plan to run for president of an independent East Timor?
XG: [Laughing] Please Amy don't ask me that question. I am trying every hour these weeks and months to think about how difficult this time is; how great are the challenges we are facing. Please don't ask me about the presidency because there are people being killed by the military. It is not yet time to ask me this question, sorry.
Santa Cruz Massacre AN: Xanana, in November of 1991, in the days leading to the procession of Nov 12, 1991, from the Moteal Church to the Santa Cruz cemetery, the procession that was massacred by the Indonesian army, what was your expectation? How did you think the Indonesian government would respond to the procession to the cemetery? What did you expect them to do?
XG: Frankly, I didn't expect so brutal reaction from ABRI. I thought because East Timor was in the front pages of the world because of the failed visit of the [Portugese] parliamentary delegation, I thought they would restrain themselves. But after the massacre I was sad, but I was not, but I accepted it was a consequence of our struggle. And unlike that massacre, there were many, many others without being known, without being investigated. And yes I was very, very surprised by the brutal reaction of ABRI
AN: Why do you think the ABRI opened fire on the crowd that day?
XG: It is usual [for the] ABRI to think that the East Timorese can be [intimidated by] the deaths and we would surrender. The ABRI generals never thought about the conscience of the people.... And it is their failure, they never considered our conscience, they never considered our inner most way. They only thought that if they punished us, we would automatically give up our ideals, our aims. I think that it is what happened.
AN: Do you think the massacre, and what happened after, was a turning point?
XG: I think so. I think so because before the massacre, we tried very heavily to say to the world that many, many people were killed but nobody -- not so many people -- believed us. And the image you took of the massacre was proof and could be shown to the international community that not only of that situation, but maybe the situations where it had happened in East Timor [before].
U.S. Role AG: Do you think the US government owes East Timor compensation for supporting the Indonesian army in its genocide against the people of East Timor?
XG: What we are trying to say to the United States is please tell the Indonesian government to stop the violence in East Timor and to withdraw from East Timor the military intelligence service because we believe that this is the third party who is playing an important role to disturb the solution and to discredit the Indonesian government itself.
AN: During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, 200,000 people, one-third of the original population has been killed, what effect has it had on the society of East Timor?
XG: The very important impact is that the military occupation has united East Timorese, has consolidated the nationalist feeling, and a stronger patriotism.
AG: You have been listening to Xanana Gusmao, the rebel leader of East Timor, speaking to us from house arrest in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.