|DE-COLONIZATION COMMITTEE - "QUESTION OF EAST TIMOR"
presented to the Committee By Mari Alkatiri (Universities Network of East Timor) and (Law
Faculty of the Eduardo Mondlane University)
Mr. Chairman, Honorable Members of the Committee.
It is for me an honour to be here again to address this Special Committee on
De-colonization. First of all I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on your
election to preside over this Committee.
Allow me I Mr. Chairman to present some views in a very brief term on the question of
A. Back to the history
When Indonesia invaded East Timor on December 7, 1975, the international community
regarded the act as a violation of the inalienable right of the East Timorese people to
self-determination and independence. Furthermore, East Timor's invasion and occupation by
Indonesia defies international law thus creating an illegal situation which must be
It is common understanding that an illegal situation of territorial take-over cannot be
solved by fake or pseudo-"solutions", i.e., that do not take into account the
deeply-rooted reasons of the conflict, which, at the end of the day, will only lead to
legitimising the occupation and denying the right to self-determination to the people of
the occupied territory.
In the specific case of East Timor, the United Nations, namely the Security Council and
the General Assembly, adopted several resolutions demanding the withdrawal of the
Indonesian occupation forces (Resolutions nrs. 384(1975) of 22 December, 389 (1976) of 22
April, 3485 (1975) of 12 December, 31/53 of 1 December 1976, 32/34 of 28 November 1977,
33/39 of 13 December 1978, 34/40 of 21 November 1979, 35/27 of 11 November 1980, 36/50 of
24 November 1981), recognising Portugal as the legal administering power of the territory
and reiterating the right of the East Timorese people to self-determination and
UN General Assembly Resolution nr. 37/30, of 23 November 1982, mandated the UN
Secretary-General to provide his good offices to promote dialogue amongst all interested
parties so to achieve a comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the
conflict in East Timor.
This led to the tripartite process of talks between Portugal, Indonesia and the United
Nations. The Representatives of the people of East Timor were never directly involved in
this process due to Indonesia's refusal in accepting the participation of the East
Timorese Resistance. To a certain extent, it can be stated that the non-direct
participation of the Resistance in the whole process has only contributed to its
Until now, it was often stated that Indonesia's refusal was linked to the nature of the
regime thereby demanding flexibility from the East Timorese so to counteract Jakarta's
inflexibility. At present, the situation is different and there is no reason for the East
Timorese to continue to play with unclear rules. If the issue is to focus on interested
parties, then I have no doubts whatsoever that East Timor is the most interested party in
the solution of this conflict.
Accordingly and in light of developments in the East Timorese situation where
"offers" of a "special status" and "extended autonomy" have
been rebound in the streets of Dili and in the mountains, I share the opinion that the
solution of the East Timor question must include:
l.The unconditional release of all the East Timorese political prisoners, in
particular, that of XANANA GUSMAO, President of the CNRT - National Council of Timorese
2.Recognition by Indonesia of East Timor's right to self-determination and
3. Direct participation of the CNRT in the talks under the auspices of the UN
4. The withdrawal of the Indonesian Armed Forces from East Timor; ,
5.The Organisation of a universal, direct and secret consultation of the people of East
Timor (referendum or other forms of universal ballot).
B. "Indonesia's offer - Autonomy or Special Status"
The sole novelty in this Indonesian "offer" lies in the fact that it was
formally and publicly disclosed. In fact, for many years now, several Resistance leaders
have been approached by Indonesian envoys with similar proposals, both in letter and in
spirit. The Resistance has never been influenced by such Indonesian "offers",
not even during the most uncertain and hardest periods of the struggle waged by the East
I deem important to note that these "offers" have first and foremost the
1. A political "marketing" bid aiming at:
* Conveying an apparently more flexible attitude by the Habibie government;
* Conveying an image that the East Timorese Resistance and Portugal are inflexible;
* Creating false expectations and thereby demobilising international support to the
cause of self-determination;
* Endlessly postponing the solution to the East Timor question.
2. "Divide to reign" Strategy:
* An ultimate effort to divide the East Timorese; * Thus, the apology of danger in
holding a referendum; * To justify the need of a "solution" without consulting
with the people of East Timor.
C. Avenues for a Solution: For a just solution, the following stands should be adopted:
1. Negotiations without pre-conditions and direct participation of CNRT, led by XANANA
GUSMAO, in the process of dialogue under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General,
involving Portugal and Indonesia;
2. Unrestricted debate of all the issues regarding East Timor in the Intra-Timorese
Dialogue; 3. Refusal of any offer of a political status for East Timor unless it arises
from a consensus born out of the negotiation process, in full respect of International
To conclude, I would like to call your attention to the current situation in East Timor
where the Indonesian designated administration is creating a time bomb by promoting
violence and criminal action against the people.
It is urgent to call the Indonesian Government to restraint from any kind of violent
action against the large majority of the people of East Timor and to respect lives and
property of any single member of the population. These are the guarantee for a peaceful
solution of the conflict.
Thank you Mr Chairman.
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