Subject: AN: Bishop Belo Suport SBY Nobel Nomination

Also: Difficulties Behind Nobel Intentions


February 1, 2006 Wednesday


Atambua, NTT Feb 1

The 1996 winner of Nobel Peace Prize Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has expressed his sincere support to the nomination of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for the 2006 prize.

In his statement by phone from Portugal to ANTARA here on Wednesday, Belo said he sincerely supports President Yudhoyono's nomination for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

"I was informed that President Yudhoyono had been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize by the United States Congress, and as the 1996 winner of the similar prize, I sincerely support the nomination for the Indonesian state leader," Belo said.

He added that if Yudhoyono is successful, it will be a privilege and pride of the whole people of Indonesia and the people in East Timor as well.

The former East Timor Catholic leader from 1988 to 2002 noted further that his sincere support to Yudhoyono was for the sake of a lasting peace in Indonesia in general and in Aceh, Papua and Timor Leste in specific.

Meanwhile, human rights figure from Aceh Hasballah M Saad said on Tuesday that President Yudhoyono deserves the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

Contacted by ANTARA Jakarta, Hasballah said in Aceh that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to someone with an extraordinary achievement in not all but certain field and in the case of President Yudhoyono in the field of peace, and therefore there was no reason for certain parties to link President Yudhoyono's achievement in the peace efforts with that in the fields of economy, social or education.

Hasballah made the statement to respond opinions from certain parties questioning Yudhoyono's nomination for the Noble Peace Prize by the US Congress.

According to him, these parties were indirectly of the opinion that the Indonesian president did not deserve the Prize because of his failure to improve the country's economic development.

Political analyst Rizal Sihbudi said on Monday that caution had to be taken with regard to President Yudhoyono's nomination by the US congressman for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Rizal said Yudhoyono's nomination for the Prize by Robert Wexler, a senior member of the International Relations Committee of the US Congress, was not based upon current condition and situation of the nation in the social and economic fields.

However, Hasballah said the Nobel Peace Prize nomination is for peace sector only.

"Therefore, I think President Yudhoyono deserves the Nobel Peace Prize because as a policy maker dealing with Aceh conflict, he has been successful making a dramatic change in the province," Hasballah noted.

He said Yudhoyono deserved the Noble Peace Prize because it was under his administration that the Aceh conflict could be settled with the signing of the peace agreement between the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Helsinky in August last year.

The spirit of peace in Aceh, according to Hasballah, should be maintained by all elements especially the military, police and bureaucrats because using violence to overcome a conflict would avail nothing.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Andi Malarangeng has said the presidential office had responded positively to the nomination.

"The government is not seeking a Nobel Peace Prize or any other awards, but if there is an appreciation, we are happy to receive it," Andi said.


Paras Indonesia

February, 02 2006 @ 04:21 am

Difficulties Behind Nobel Intentions

The nomination of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for seemingly ending decades of civil war in Aceh province is receiving widespread support. But critics argue the proposal should be postponed until the government can overcome separatist conflict in Papua province, end communal violence in Central Sulawesi and bring troops to justice for crimes against humanity in East Timor.

US Democratic congressman Robert Wexler last week nominated Yudhoyono for the prestigious award, calling the former general a <>"campaigner for peace".

Wexler, a senior member of the House International Relations Committee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Yudhoyono deserved the award for his "central role as peacemaker in resolving the Aceh conflict and unwavering commitment to Indonesian democracy".

In his first year in office, Yudhoyono achieved a major breakthrough in the armed conflict between state troops and the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), resulting in an August 2005 peace deal that for the time being has ended the deadly conflict that plagued Aceh for almost 30 years. Few observers had expected the truce would succeed.

In a letter to the Nobel Committee, Wexler said that although the people of Indonesia have been forced to endure many hardships over the past year, such as the December 2004 tsunami disaster and the outbreak of bird flu, Yudhoyono and his government should be commended for remaining firmly committed to addressing the country's political, economic and humanitarian needs.

"By focusing efforts on ending internal disputes, President Yudhoyono has enabled his government to focus its energies and capabilities on serving the people of Indonesia in times of crisis. President Yudhoyono's forward thinking and willingness to take risks for peace reflects the spirit of the Nobel Prize's history," said the letter.

"In working to resolve the dispute in Aceh, President Yudhoyono simultaneously worked towards many of the goals of the prize's selection committee. He helped resolve an armed conflict through a negotiated agreement that incorporates both arms control and disarmament. Furthermore, he has helped to restore to the citizens of the province of Aceh their human and political rights for representation in governance," it said.

"Yudhoyono has shown himself to be a true reformer and campaigner for peace, and as such, it is my opinion that he is especially worthy of the Nobel Prize Committee's consideration," concluded Wexler.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is responsible for selecting the candidates and choosing the winners for the Peace Prize. The committee will vote on this year's winner in mid-October.

East Timor Pebble

The Nobel Peace Prize was first awarded in 1901. There was considerable outrage in Indonesia in 1996 when it was jointly awarded to East Timorese independence activists <>Bishop Carlos Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta "for their work towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor".

Under the rule of ex-dictator Suharto, Indonesia in 1975 invaded the former Portuguese colony of East Timor and began systematically oppressing the people. An estimated one-third of the territory's population lost their lives due to starvation, epidemics, war and terror. Following the fall of Suharto in 1998, Indonesia agreed to allow the United Nations to hold an independence referendum in East Timor in 1999. An overwhelming majority of East Timorese voted for freedom, but the plebiscite was marred by a series of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indonesian military and its militia proxies.

To avert calls for an international tribunal, Indonesia subsequently established a special human rights court that tried a handful of military, police, civilian and militia officials over the carnage. There were a few convictions, but the guilty security officials remained free pending appeal and later had their verdicts overturned. The only person to remain sentenced by the court is former militia leader Eurico Guterres, who is yet to be put behind bars.

Indonesia last year sought to defuse calls for justice by establishing a joint Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) with East Timor, which had achieved full independence in 2002. But ties soured last month when East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao presented the UN with a report that said Indonesia was responsible for up to 180,000 deaths in East Timor during its 1975-1999 occupation.

In response to the report, Indonesia's members of the CTF called off a visit to East Timor, while Yudhoyono's office indefinitely postponed a meeting with Gusmao.

Papua & Central Sulawesi Rights activists say that if Yudhoyono is to truly take on the mantle of peacemaker, he must find a lasting solution to conflict in resource-rich but underdeveloped Papua, where there has been a sporadic rebellion since Indonesia took over the territory from the Dutch in the 1960s.

The province has been back under the spotlight after 43 Papuan asylum seekers last month arrived in Australia and accused the Indonesian military of <>using the same brutal tactics it employed during the occupation of East Timor.

Also last month, US-based gold and copper mining giant Freeport came under pressure over its payments of millions of dollars of protection money to Indonesian security forces tasked to guard the firm's vast Grasberg mine in Papua.

A report ( by The Financial Times says that despite the government's success in Aceh, it is likely to be far more difficult to resolve the Papua issue. "It's the single most sensitive issue on the political agenda," Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group was quoted as saying.

She said the problem with Papua is the absence of a negotiating partner, as the separatist Free Papua Organization is small, divided and controls no territory.

Yudhoyono's supporters say his plan to appoint Air Force chief Djoko Suyanto as the next commander of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) should help to reform the military in Papua.

Suyanto has emphasized that TNI's function is to <>defend the country. "It does not have a political function. We will continue to have internal reforms," he told a hearing of legislators assessing his capability for the job.

In addition to the problems in Papua, the government had also been criticized for failing to end sporadic communal violence and terror attacks in Central Sulawesi. Analysts have suggested that much of the unrest is linked to local political and military corruption.

Support For Nobel Nomination Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said Yudhoyono's office was pleased by the Nobel Peace Prize nomination. "The government's aim in carrying out its duties is not for the Nobel or other awards. But if there is appreciation, we will be glad," he was quoted as saying by state news agency Antara.

Bishop Belo on Wednesday (1/2/06) said the people of Indonesia and East Timor could take pride if Yudhoyono wins the award. "I sincerely support the nomination for the Indonesian state leader," he said.

Hasballah Saad, a former minister for human rights in the administration of ex-president Abdurrahman Wahid, said Yudhoyono deserves the award for bringing peace to Aceh.

Some of the president's political opponents have said he is not worthy of the prize because of the government's failure to significantly improve education and the economy.

Saad, who was born in Aceh, said such criticism is unfounded because the award is for peace. "Therefore, I think President Yudhoyono deserves the Nobel Peace Prize because as a policymaker dealing with the Aceh conflict, he has been successful in making a dramatic change in the province."

Political observer Professor Saroso Hamongpranoto, who lectures at East Kalimantan's Mulawarman University, said the nomination would boost Indonesia's international image. "Internationally, it will be beneficial, as we are accustomed to being known for our bad image," he was quoted as saying by Antara.

He also said the award could also have a positive "snowball effect" by motivating all provincial governors to become more active in maintaining peace. "Let's say, Poso, Ambon, Papua and Aceh. These governors might be motivated to be more active in bringing back peace in their regions, and later all regents and mayors will also do the same thing," he added.

Hamongpranoto rejected speculation that there was a hidden motive behind America's nomination of Yudhoyono. "We should be honest with ourselves. For decades, it is only during the Yudhoyono administration that several serious problems could be settled, including the Aceh case," he said.

Fellow political analyst Effendy Ghazali, from Jakarta's University of Indonesia, said it was fair to nominate Yudhoyono for the award for ending the Aceh rebellion and combating the devastation caused by the tsunami.

But he pointed out that the government has not yet resolved several important cases, such as the murder of human rights crusader Munir and the embezzlement of central bank funds. Nevertheless, he added, such issues were irrelevant to criteria for the Peace Prize.

Rights activists disagree, arguing that Yudhoyono's unwillingness to unmask the masterminds behind Munir's murder indicates an inconsistency in his commitment to upholding peace and justice.

Ghazali said if Yudhoyono is selected for the award, he should share it with former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, who mediated a series of talks that led to the Aceh peace deal.

He further pointed out that Vice President Jusuf Kalla had played a much greater role than Yudhoyono in resolving the conflict. But as Kalla's superior, it is only fitting that Yudhoyono receive the nomination, he added.

By: Roy Tupai | 

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