Subject: Indonesia apologising in own way, JRH

Mar 21, 2010

Indonesia apologising in own way

DILI - INDONESIA will apologise to the people of East Timor in its own way for past human rights violations, East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said on Sunday.

Indonesia's former president Abdurrahman Wahid apologised when he visited East Timor in 2000 but successive leaders including current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have stopped short of an apology, instead expressing regret.

'We hope that with time working with them, when conditions are right, they will do it in their own way,' Ramos-Horta told AFP at the Nicolau Lobato Airport in Dili after returning from a trip to Europe and Japan. 'They are already doing it in their own way because there are ways how Asians do things, you know, in the sense of by helping, by providing all kinds of assistance, it is their way of atoning for the past wrongs...'

The government in Dili has been pursuing a policy of appeasement with Jakarta, its biggest trade partner. Mr Ramos-Horta said it was only a matter of time before a verbal apology was given for the more than 100,000 lives lost as a result of the Indonesian military's bloody 24-year occupation.

'I would say I know the victims, I know the people, any human being - I would prefer and I know they would prefer to hear a sincere apology, the words, we are sorry',' he said.

The president has stood firm in his opposition to the establishment of an international tribunal for past crimes against humanity committed in East Timor. On March 9, he issued a statement denying a media release sent out by Amnesty International saying he would support such a body. -- AFP

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