=Subject: JRH writes to UN Secretary-General
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 09:19:00 -0400
From: Charles Scheiner <cscheiner@igc.org>

The following letter was sent on April 28 by Jose Ramos-Horta to Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

>From the desk of Jose Ramos-Horta Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lisbon, 28 April 1999

Your Excellency,

I need not reiterate my commitment and long-standing support to the United Nations and my personal respect for you personally. In countless public lectures around the US, Europe and Australia, in media interviews and in small group conversations, I have expressed and called for support to the Organization that you are presiding with such courage and integrity. In these times of extraordinary challenges, the UN and we all have been blessed with your unique leadership qualities.

The East Timorese are for ever indebted to you and your dedicated staff for your personal engagement in the search for a just and democratic solution to one of the most tragic conflicts of this later half of the century. I know you are conscious of the enormous injustice and betrayal that befell the East Timorese people. The violence unleashed against this small nation with active complicity of the major powers stands as one of the greatest crimes of our times.

Your compassion, integrity and courageous leadership can prevail over the forces of violence that want to deny the people of East Timor their sacred right to self-determination, freedom and independence.

No matter the half-truths and blatant lies, distortions and arrogance that have been part of Indonesia’s diplomatic and political culture, the truth is there in the open for all to see. The truth is that the Indonesian political and military leaders are guilty of the crime of genocide against the people of East Timor. They should be standing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity along with other monsters of this later half of the century. We are at a critical historical juncture with freedom and justice within our grasp. However, after 23 years of a brutal colonial occupation, the Indonesian military remain defiant and are bent on denying the people of East Timor their hard won rights.

Mr. Secretary-General, this is also a test of wills between the UN and the forces of intolerance and violence. Under your compassionate and courageous leadership there is a strong possibility that justice prevails. I welcome the agreement you have brokered that paves the way for a vote on the future of East Timor on 8th August 1999.

However, I have expressed to your staff my deep concerns regarding this precarious agreement that does not contain the essential guarantees of security that are "sine quo non" conditions for a truly democratic process free of coercion and terror.

The Indonesian side has prevailed in its refusal to reduce its military presence in the territory and in disarming the gang of criminals it has armed and fostered. It continues to carry out a systematic campaign of murder and destruction with total impunity. Our people, terrorized and traumatized for 23 years, are expected to vote on their future with "protection" provided by the very same army and gang of criminals that have turned the country into a hell far worse then Kosovo and apartheid’s South Africa.

There is no provision in the agreement for Xanana’s release and return to East Timor. The UN and the rest of the world impose on Xanana the burden of securing peace from a prison while the militias continue to roam the country and terrorize the people.

The August 8th vote will be a farce and the credibility of the UN will be seriously damaged if firm preventive measures are not considered now. It is necessary that the SC is seized of the question. After all, there are two SC resolutions on the question of East Timor that remain to be implemented.

The presence of the Indonesian army, an army of occupation, must be reduced to a maximum of 1,000 and they must be confined to a designated area. Similarly, the FALINTIL should be confined to designated areas. The para-military and the gang of militias must be totally disarmed. Only the UN must provide security.

Failure to implement these fundamental measures is recipe for disaster. The inability or unwillingness of the powers that be to compel the Indonesian army to comply with the UN SC and GA resolutions calling for a total withdrawal of its troops from East Timor, threatens the entire peace process and will only prolong the conflict well into the next century.

If we fail to guarantee a fair and democratic process, there should be no illusion that the people of East Timor will give up their struggle. And Indonesia and the world community can expect that the new generation of East Timorese will seek other forms of struggle in the same manner as other betrayed nations have done. Examples abound of traditionally peaceful communities and political movements changing tactics when their non-violent strategy is not rewarded.

What you can do today, Mr. Secretary-General, and what the powers that be are prepared to do, can prevent an even more violent conflict with no boundaries in the future. I can feel the mood among our youth and I can clearly see them a few years from now…Hence I fear the future.

I am conscious, Mr. Secretary-General, of the enormous difficulties you face. I believe that you are equally conscious that the difficulties, intransigence, and arrogance do not come from our humble people.

I am also fully aware that you have been doing your utmost to move this process forward and that the apparent flaws in the NY agreement were the price you had to pay in order to enable the UN to gain access to East Timor.

My concerns and strong reservations are not therefore born of distrust in your leadership. Quite the contrary, you have my full confidence and respect. They are meant only to alert you further to the risks and dangers ahead so that no stone is left unturned to insure maximum security and fairness for this historical mission you. Success will have profound positive impact on the credibility of the UN that we all cherish.

Yours truly,

Jose Ramos-Horta Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1996)


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