|Ramos-Horta Statement Urges Refugee Return, Rights Prosecutions &
Suspended Military Ties
For Immediate Release Contact: John M. Miller (718)-596-7668; firstname.lastname@example.org
East Timorese Leader Urges Swift Return of Refugees
Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta Says International Community Must Be
Prepared For Indonesian Prosecutions To Falter
World Must Support Indonesian Democracy Not Its Military
Calling the situation of East Timorese refugees in Indonesia "a
criminal matter," East Timorese Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta urged
their speedy return. He said that all but the commanders responsible for
ongoing military and militia terror are welcome to return. These leaders
must be called to account, and the international community "must take
strong measures at all levels to put the Indonesian military in
In a statement issued today, Ramos-Horta also praised Indonesian
President Abdurrahman Wahid's efforts at reconciliation with East Timor
and urged the international community to support democracy in Indonesia.
"By suspending all military ties with that brutal military, the ...
world will not only help stop the terror in West Timor, they will also
strengthen the civilian government... [and] bring closer the day when the
people of Indonesia can finally live in peace, free from military
Ramos-Horta called on the international community to push forward with
its own tribunal, while supporting Indonesia's efforts to investigate and
prosecute some of those responsible "for the nightmare of destruction
East Timor has witnessed since 1975." He said, "such a tribunal
would guarantee justice is served against the masterminds of genocide in
the Indonesian military high command if Indonesia cannot meet standard
international norms of due process." He urged the international
community to clarify the standards that Indonesia must satisfy for
Ramos-Horta, vice president of the National Council of Timorese
Resistance (CNRT), said East Timorese are welcome to return
"including those who collaborated with Indonesia... The CNRT will
accept no reprisals against any of them. This is their country."
He urged an intensive short-term increase in personnel in West Timor
"to help with accompaniment of civilians. International aid workers
must be sent in to the camps, to shine the light of international
attention on what our people are facing on a daily basis."
Jose Ramos-Horta shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize.
Statement by 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate José Ramos-Horta
The National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) is deeply concerned
about the dire situation still facing those East Timorese in militia and
military-controlled camps in West Timor.
More than a month ago, West Timor officials stated that nearly 500 East
Timorese, including 310 children, have died due to inadequate sanitation
and medical care in the camps. Sanitation and access to medical treatment
in the camps is practically nonexistent. Attacks and intimidation by
militia and military are an ongoing reality. Access by international aid
groups to the refugees is extremely limited, and there have been many
militia attacks on aid workers. That this situation continues six months
after these East Timorese were driven into forced exile is a criminal
matter that must be remedied immediately.
The propaganda being spread through the camps by hard liners in the
Indonesian military and their militia lackeys about violence in East Timor
is making repatriation efforts much more difficult. We are committed to
working together with the Indonesian government to explain to our East
Timorese brothers and sisters that they can return safely, including those
who collaborated with Indonesia.
Those thousands who voted for autonomy with Indonesia and those militia
members who collaborated with the Indonesian Army can feel safe returning
to their homeland. The CNRT will accept no reprisals against any of them.
This is their country, they belong here and all of us -- the resistance,
the pro-autonomy groups -- must meet halfway, bury the past, consolidate
peace and rebuild this country.
However, there can be no tolerance for militia leadership that
continues to oversee terror campaigns in West Timor, or cross-border and
against Oecussi in East Timor. Those responsible for such premeditated
savagery must be arrested immediately. Very recently, international
peacekeepers near the border between East and West Timor came under fire
from Indonesian military-backed militias four times in 24 hours. More
recently, a cross-border raid into East Timor by either militias or
military (in too many cases they are one and the same) killed one East
Timorese civilian; a UN military spokesman said, "further harassment
and killing of innocent locals could very well take place."
We are relieved that at long last a militia boss in West Timor, Moko
Soares, was arrested, but we are concerned over the nature of and
authority over his pending trial in West Timor. More of those in the
militia leadership that are still ordering attacks must be brought to
trial, and their bosses in the Indonesian military should be called to
account as well. If the Indonesian authorities in West Timor can, in the
arrogant double speak of the Suharto era, say our people in the camps need
to decide whether or not they will come home by the end of March,
certainly the rest of the world can tell those authorities that the
military thugs calling the shots need to decide to cut loose the militias
In East Timor we are beginning, with UNTAET, to establish our own
judicial system, which will soon be ready to try those in East Timor
arrested for militia or criminal violence. But, our brothers and sisters
will have a harder time practicing forgiveness here in East Timor if they
know justice is not being served at the highest levels of power, through
trials of those in the Indonesian military who are responsible for the
nightmare of destruction East Timor has witnessed since 1975. This is also
the only way to send a signal once and for all that the international
community will not tolerate ongoing military aggression against innocent
East Timorese civilians. For this reason, while we support the process of
investigation and trials underway in Indonesia we also encourage the
international community to push forward with support for a tribunal. Such
a tribunal would guarantee justice served against the masterminds of
genocide in the Indonesian military high command if Indonesia cannot meet
standard international norms of due process. The international community
should clarify these standards now, and focus particular attention on the
credibility of judicial personnel, witness protection, and military
cooperation, and it should not allow selective immunity from prosecution.
We were extremely grateful that President Wahid took the bold step of
coming to East Timor and reaching out his hand in reconciliation. This
gesture of goodwill, in which he acknowledged with regret the destruction
of our country by the Indonesian military, was not taken lightly by the
East Timorese people. Nor will we forget that President Wahid supported
our right to self-determination in the Suharto years. We are also grateful
for his promise that Indonesian military support for the militia in West
Timor will end, and look forward to seeing it fulfilled.
The international community must support the pro-democracy movement and
the civilian government in Indonesia by taking strong measures at all
levels to put the Indonesian military in check. By suspending all military
ties with that brutal military, the great countries of the world not only
help stop the terror in West Timor, they also strengthen the civilian
government of our friend Abdurrahman Wahid, and bring closer the day when
the people of Indonesia can finally live in peace, free from military
repression and the draconian "dual-function" that maintains it.
We are grateful for current restrictions and call for their continuation,
until Indonesia is truly under civilian control, as well as fulfilling its
commitments to legal accountability and the return of our people.
To help speed the return home of our fellow East Timorese still in West
Timor, we ask for an intensive short-term increase in personnel to help
with accompaniment of civilians. International aid workers must be sent
into the camps, to shine the light of international attention once more on
what our people are facing on a daily basis.
I thank you for your urgent attention to these vital matters.
1996 Nobel Peace Prize co-Laureate
Vice-President, National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT)
Contact: John M. Miller; 718-596-7668; email@example.com
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