|Subject: JP: J. Stapleton Roy's comments on E.Timor
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:41:50 -0400
Jakarta Post 13 August 1999
Indonesia in transition: Some parting thoughts
By J. Stapleton Roy
Excepts from speech by the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia at the Indonesian Council on World Affairs (ICWA) in Jakarta on Wednesday.
- Comments about East Timor only included here -
Before closing, let me comment briefly on East Timor, a problem that has lingered for a quarter of a century and that has been a burden for Indonesia both domestically and internationally. Coinciding with its democratic transition, Indonesia has created for itself an unprecedented opportunity to put this issue onto a new footing that will benefit both Indonesia and the people of East Timor. If conditions can be created so that a truly valid voting process, internationally supervised and internationally recognized, can take place on Aug. 30, then a major step will have been taken toward a solution, whether by means of granting East Timor broad autonomy or by separation from Indonesia.
Such a favorable outcome cannot yet be assured. Last month I accompanied Assistant Secretary Stanley Roth to East Timor for a three-day visit. Both of us were encouraged by the manner in which registration was proceeding and by the improved cooperation between UNAMET and the Indonesian military and police authorities there. At the same time, both of us came away concerned about security. For the consultation to be a success, all eligible voters, whether proautonomy or pro-separation, must be free to express their views and vote for their preferred outcome without being subject to threat or intimidation. This includes the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and threats.
As provided for in the historic agreement signed in New York on May 5 by Indonesia, Portugal, and the United Nations, Indonesia is responsible for ensuring a peaceful environment in East Timor so that the voting process can take place as scheduled. We urge all parties to work together to create such conditions, whether by ending intimidation, sequestering arms, permitting Xanana Gusmao to travel to East Timor, or ensuring fair and even-handed treatment for all sides.
No matter what the result of the voting process, it will be important for all parties to respect the outcome. The problem of East Timor will not end on Aug. 30. In fact, the most difficult challenges may lie ahead: in making sure that autonomy works if that is the choice of the East Timorese; or in ensuring that a separate East Timor becomes a close friend and cooperative partner of Indonesia if that is the preference of the majority of East Timorese. In either case it will be essential that the majority act in a manner that respects the interests and dignity of the minority.
Given the special international character of the East Timor problem, it is also important for friends of Indonesia to act responsibly so that the treatment accorded East Timor does not exacerbate separatist tendencies elsewhere in Indonesia, thus enabling your country to provide a successful example of how to maintain both unity and diversity. That can only be accomplished, of course, by ensuring social justice for the whole Indonesian people.