|Letter of solidarity to Bishop Belo and Bishop Nascimento of East Timor from
the bishops of Japan
Their Excellencies The Most Reverend Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and The Most Reverend Basilio do Nascimento
Warmest greetings to you is this, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We, the bishops of the church in Japan,would like to express our sincere solidarity with you and all your people in East Timor. May Jesus, who loved us so much that he sacrificed Himself for all of us, keep each of you deep in His heart and encourage you in his love.
Gathered now in our annual General Assembly, all of us remember once again the long history of East Timor's struggle for peace and freedom. We came to know of the tragedy of East Timor when your predecessor, Monsignor Martinho da Costa Lopes, came to Japan to appeal on behalf of his people. Since then, we have been keeping in our prayers all the suffering people of East Timor, particularly you, the leaders of the church, because we can imagine the heavy responsibility you bear on your shoulders.
On the 5th of last May, we were delighted to hear the good news of the tripartite agreement on the peace process for East Timor, but unfortunately our delight was not very long-lived. The news from your land which has reached us since then has been worse every day, and now we are extremely worried@about what might happen in relation to the vote on the 8th of August.
We know enough about the East Timor issue to recognize that we, the people who are part of the "international community," bear much of the blame for the present situation. Today the armed militias believe they can perpetrate violence against the defenseless population with impunity because they have seen how slow the international community has been to condemn the violence perpetrated by the Indonesian military over the past twenty-three years. Our country, Japan, is particularly culpable. Not only did our troops occupy your land during World War Two, but after the invasion by Indonesia, our country continued as the biggest donor of economic assistance to Indonesia, thus enabling, albeit indirectly, Indonesia to carry out its cruel occupation of your land. In this, the month of the Sacred Heart, we humbly renew our resolve to stand beside you in stronger solidarity.
We promise you to do everything in our power to assist in the creation of a suitable atmosphere in which to hold the coming vote in East Timor, by appealing to as many international and national organizations as possible.
Lastly we offer our prayers so that the Lord, Almighty God, be with each individual of East Timor, protect him/her from all evil, and lead the whole population to true peace and freedom.
16th June, 1999
P.S. The attached letter is the copy of the letter we have sent to Mr.Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, regarding the matter. We send it for your reference. We inform you that the copies of the two letters have been sent to Mr.Moezda n Razak, the Indonesian Ambassador to Japan.
Letter from the bishops of Japan to the United Nations Secretary General
Dear Secretary General of the UN Mr. Kofi Annan
We, Japanese Bishops gathered in our General Assembly, express our sincere appreciation for what you have been, and are now doing to achieve a just solution to the issue of East Timor. We were particularly pleased with the reaching of agreement on the 5 of May, agreements which would hopefully lead to the final and long-awaited phase of the issue.
However, the recent reports coming from the territory have robbed us of our hope. They indicate that, far from improving, the situation is going from@ bad to worse in terms of the rights of the people of East Timor. The hopeless people of East Timor are reported to be subjected to intimidation and terror to force them to vote for integration against their will, a situation which puts the U .N. officials themselves in an extremely difficult position.
We feel very sorry to have to convey to you that the one aspect of the May 5 agreement which worried us, namely the entrusting to the Indonesian government responsibility for guaranteeing security for the vote, has turned out to be a fatal flaw. It now seems clear that there cannot be a fair vote on the 8th of August as long as the present situation of intimidation by the Indonesian-backed militias continues.
We therefore urgently appeal to you to take all necessary steps to remedy the situation and respectfully propose that you:
-Make a fresh appeal to as many countries as possible to send civilian police to East Timor and in far greater numbers than at present.
-Convey to the Indonesian government in no uncertain terms the necessity to totally disarm its military forces in East Timor and the militias who are operating under the military's protection, and to swiftly bring to justice all those members of the military or the militias who are terrorizing the unarmed civilian population in East Timor.
-If the Indonesian government is unwilling or unable to promptly and fully carry out its obligations , set up a Peace Keeping Operation in East Timor, as Bishop Belo himself has called for.
-Urge the Indonesian government to allow international parliamentarians, NGOs and volunteer delegations to assist in monitoring the vote.
We pray that God will bless and strengthen you in this most important mission.
16th June, 1999