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Saturday, September 18, 1999 Published at 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Gusmao: 'Respect this mission of peace'

Xanana Gusmao: "We were not naive, we expected violence"

The leader of East Timor's resistance movement has called on Indonesian forces and armed militias to lay down their arms and respect the "mission of peace" preparing to enter the territory.

East Timor
In an interview with the BBC from his British embassy refuge in Jakarta, Mr Gusmao said that the East Timorese had expected to be confronted with violence following the historic referendum vote for independence - but had been shocked by the scale of the slaughter.

He said that while there were now international calls for a commission to prosecute those responsible for the violence, his priority would be to help the emerging nation rebuild itself and heal its own wounds.

Xanana Gusmao: "They are suffering disease and starvation"
Mr Gusmao said that evidence passed to him showed that Indonesian withdrawals in the last two days were not on the scale suggested by Jakarta.

Soldiers remained concentrated in the north and western parts of East Timor, he said.

But he added that even if the Indonesian military did remain, pro-independence guerrillas and campaigners would be able to co-operate with them once the international forces arrive.

"This is our mission," he said. "I hope that the TNI (Indonesian army) are aware that this is no longer the time to die, to kill people or the multinational force.

"This is a mission of peace."

Little resistance

He predicted that neither the Indonesian forces nor the armed militias would offer great resistance despite threats to target peacekeepers from non-Asian nations.

Xanana Gusmao: This is a mission of peace"
"The Indonesian soldiers do not want to die there," he said.

"From the militia's side, I do not expect much resistance.

"What they will do is from the border (with West Timor), there will be provocations and infiltrations.

"Maybe some rogue elements of the Indonesian forces will try and kill some people including multinational force soldiers but I do not think that there will be any big confrontations."

Xanana Gusmao: "We expected violence - but not on this scale"
In the interview for the BBC World Service's Newshour, he said that he remained in contact with pro-independence commanders who had gone into hiding with the tens of thousands of refugees following the massive outbreak of violence following the vote.

The first airdrops of aid on Friday had failed to succeed, he said, as one local commander had reported that 95% of the food packages had been destroyed on impact.

Calling for the international force to take control of the territory as quickly as possible, Mr Gusmao said:

"The refugees are in the jungle, in the mountains, and are suffering starvation and disease. There are many many victims.

"They are asking me to send a message to the UN get the drops closer. It is reaching very few people."

'We expected violence'

Mr Gusmao was speaking hours after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson called for an international inquiry to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity committed in the wake of the referendum vote.

[ image:  ]
But Mr Gusmao said that his priorities lay with helping to rebuild his country.

"For the next five years we will have many many things to do," he said. "We have to heal the wounds and suffering of our people, of the widows and orphans.

"We have to house our people, create the basic conditions of life."

But he added: "We expected some killings and violence but not on this scale.

"This was so huge and barbarous.

"We were not naive, we expected this challenge and these difficult times after the referendum process.

"We were prepared to face the hardships but not in these dimensions."

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