Subject: AP: Horta says he's willing to wait 20 years for justice against Indonesian abuses

Tuesday May 10, 5:29 PM


East Timor says it's willing to wait 20 years for justice against Indonesian rights abuses

East Timor will wait patiently _ even if takes 20 years _ for Indonesian military and militia members to be tried for human rights abuses during the country's bloody break from Indonesia in 1999, its foreign minister said Tuesday.

Indonesia is in transition toward democracy, and opening old wounds or pushing it too hard for reforms could destabilize the government and push the country into the hands of Islamic radicals, East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta told reporters during a visit to Malaysia.

Horta said the United States and other Western powers should also be patient with Indonesia, and restore military ties with it to improve its military's human rights performance through training.

"We have to sympathize and understand the difficulties of those inside the country who are trying to change Indonesia. If you push too hard and too fast, there can be nationalist and Islamic backlash that ... will destabilize the democratic government," said Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

After East Timor voted for independence under a 1999 U.N.-sponsored referendum, Indonesia's military and its proxy militias went on a rampage that left about 1,500 Timorese dead and displaced about 300,000 people.

East Timor's limited jurisdiction has failed to punish the perpetrators. An Indonesian court charged 18 people with human rights crimes, but 12 were acquitted and four had their sentences overturned on appeal. Two other appeals were pending.

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