Subject: JP: exclusive interview w/Ramos-Horta
Date: Sat, 29 May 1999 11:44:04 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Jakarta Post 28 May 1999

Ramos-Horta speaks on East Timor independence ballot By Aboeprijadi Santoso

In an exclusive interview with The Jakarta Post, the co-winner of the 1996 Noble Peace Prize,Jose Ramos-Horta, reiterates his support for the New York agreement on a United-Nations-supervised ballot. However, he reserves strong criticism for the planned security arrangements, which will be the responsibility of Indonesia.

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands (JP): In an attempt to clarify the position of East Timorese resistance to the New York agreement, Special Representative of the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT) Jose Manuel Ramos- Horta, has accused the Indonesian Military (TNI) of supporting the prointegration militias. However, he praised President B.J. Habibie for paving the way toward independence in the province.

"President Habibie is doing his very best, within enormous constraints and difficulties. I respect him. Like former French president Charles de Gaulle, Habibie has the courage to want to get out of 'Indonesia's Algerian war'," Ramos-Horta told The Jakarta Post in The Hague recently.

The interview was given only a few days before Minister of Information Mohammad Yunus suggested that proindependence Timorese exiled leaders could meet with Xanana Gusmao and with the prointegration camp in Jakarta.

Question: Are you planning to go home for the Aug. 8 vote?

Ramos-Horta: I wouldn't go just for the vote. One clause of the (unpublished) memorandum (from the UN secretary-general on May 5) is for complete freedom to campaign for everyone concerned. That means CNRT leaders abroad or inside the country should be able to campaign freely. It is seizing on that memorandum that I intend to request the UN to offer me the guarantee and facilities to go to East Timor. Obviously this applies also to Xanana Gusmao. It will be a demonstration of bad faith if Jakarta releases him only after the Aug. 8 ballot.

The Indonesian government seems serious about giving an opportunity to the East Timorese to decide on their future. You have the New York Agreement and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas met with both camps in Bali. Do you trust the efforts?

Everyone knows, the Irish Foreign Minister knows with his own eyes, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Australian Ambassador and the Americans know, they all know how the Indonesian Army has actively promoted violence in East Timor. Indonesia has an illegal occupation army in East Timor. It is a bit like asking Saddam Hussein to meet with all Kurdish factions, or to trust Milosevic to meet with the Kosovars. (Gen.) Wiranto went to Dili a few weeks ago with the two bishops, with some CNRT people, and signed a so-called cease-fire. And what happened? On the same day, the same people whom they gave weapons to continued the killings till today.

But Indonesia has a lot at stake to be trusted by the international community. The country is in transition. It is changing a lot. President Habibie's adviser Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar said that if the referendum fails because of insecurity, Indonesia could become a Myanmar or Serbia.

Yes, you have President Habibie, Dr. Dewi Fortuna Anwar and maybe Minister of Justice Muladi and many others. They are reform-minded people, people with a sense of dignity of what Indonesia should be as a respected member of the international community. But the Army is still there. They are the ones who are defying and challenging their own President and the foreign minister who made a commitment to honor the agreement in New York. As long as we have to depend on the Indonesian Army for peace and security in East Timor, it will be like depending on Saddam Hussein to guarantee peace and security in Iraq.

That's the tragedy of Indonesia. Yes, there are extraordinary courageous people on the civilian side, in the media, in student (groups), in the academy. But Indonesia will go through a very tragic fate, as Dewi Anwar said, maybe like Myanmar or Serbia, if the Army continues to operate with total impunity.

So if you go to East Timor, would you meet with President Habibie in Jakarta?

Of course, I respect President Habibie. He is doing the very best within enormous constraints and difficulties; I respect him and his advisers for that. So obviously I would be pleased and honored to see him.

What would you say to him?

I would thank him for having had the statesmanship to make the policy changes. President Habibie reminds me of Charles de Gaulle, the former French president, because de Gaulle is a great French patriot who told France to get out of the Algerian war. De Gaulle was a great statesman because he knew the best interests of France. The dignity and honor of France was not to continue the colonial war in Algeria. And Habibie is doing the same. Why should Indonesia stay on in East Timor? What is at stake? The national interest of Indonesia! So, I say, there is a similarity to De Gaulle in Habibie's courage to want to get out of 'Indonesia's Algerian war'.

But France at that time, unlike Indonesia now, was not in transition. And President Habibie considers Gen. Wiranto a reformist...

Well if Wiranto is a reformist, I would say Habibie must be a Jeffersonian democrat. If so, Milosevic must also be a reformist, and Saddam Hussein must be the most liberal politician in the world.

The current issues are still the disarmament of militias and other groups carrying weapons. But the New York agreement does not indicate any mechanism for disarmament. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan only asked Indonesia to control and discipline, not disarm, the militias. So this is still a big problem, isn't it?

Of course, if violence continues, there will be no vote, and everyone knows whose responsibility (that would be), because Indonesia said they are the ones to supervise the security. They insisted on it, and it is in the agreement. Can the Indonesian Army truly play an independent and neutral role and provide the security, or not? If they cannot, then let the UN Security Council meet to send an armed peacekeeping force to East Timor. As Ali Alatas said recently, if the Indonesian Army is not capable of disarming the militias, pressure is going to mount from Portugal, the European Union, the Americans, and by us (CNRT) for a UN Security Council mandate for a UN peacekeeping force.

So, would you consider Alatas also a reformist like Habibie?

Well, I would say that Ali Alatas was a very loyal supporter of Soeharto for many years, he is a loyal supporter of Habibie maybe, I don't know what I would consider Alatas at the moment.

You really don't know?

I don't know... If at this stage the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas realizes it's time for him to gain some credibility before he retires, if he has the courage to speak out, yes, he would go down in history as a man of courage and honor. But, he has to make a break with those who are ruining the name of Indonesia, and that is the Indonesian Army.

What if in the next few years Alatas will be mentioned again as a candidate for secretary-general at the UN. Would you support him?

In three to five years, who knows, I myself might also be a candidate for secretary-general of the UN, so I certainly could not support Alatas.

You would obviously advise the East Timorese to reject the autonomy proposal, but what reasons are you going to give them?

Knowing how the Indonesian economy is, with millions of Indonesians unable to go to school and US$160 billion in external debt, do you think the East Timorese will see any material incentive to join Indonesia? We don't even have to talk about invasion, occupation, the two hundred thousand people killed, the raping of women, the continuing torture, even if we look from the pragmatic point of view, who would want to join Indonesia? What is the material incentive?

Anyone who votes for autonomy has to take full responsibility for the future. Because once the issue is off the UN agenda, it will be far more difficult for economic justice, political justice and social justice to be implemented in East Timor. Those who vote as such are condemning East Timor into a situation of no more opportunities for the future.

But, at the same time I'll be campaigning for nonviolence. I do not agree with many things that many elements in the resistance have done as well.

Many people in Dili use the name of the resistance. I don't know whether they are the resistance or not, but one day they will have to explain. I will also ask the UN to investigate what the role of the resistance in Dili has been in the last few months, of provoking people, insulting people, of taking away or extorting money. I said, even before Soeharto fell, that I don't want to see one single Indonesian migrant abused.

There are now about 26,000 Indonesian migrants in West Timor. The Indonesian government said they are there because of threats from the resistance groups, months before the pro-Jakarta militia's came (on the scene).

No, no, the leaders of the resistance have been very clear. The Falintil (guerrillas) never once attacked an Indonesian migrant. What happened was essentially things by young people in Dili, who were angry with what has happened for 23 years and seized the opportunity. It is still wrong. Indonesian migrants who decide to stay in East Timor in the future must be respected and protected.

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