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Friday, August 27, 1999 Published at 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK


World: Asia-Pacific

Interview: Timor leader urges 'drastic' action

Mr Ramos Horta, left, and fellow resistance leader Xanana Gusmao

Interview with Jose Ramos Horta, Nobel peace prize winner and vice-president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, by telephone from Sydney with BBC World TV, on 27 August 1999.

BBC: Can I ask you first your mood before Monday's vote. Is it hope for the future or anger at the distant and, of course, the recent past?

Jose Ramos Horta: I have to confess I am angry - angry at the way the Indonesian side, the Indonesian government has mistreated, has abused, slaughtered an innocent, defenceless, vulnerable nation.

East Timor
They had an opportunity after 23 years of brutal occupation following the demise of Suharto in Indonesia, the so-called democratic reforms and the announcement by President B.J. Habibie of the shift in policies now recognising the right of the people of East Timor to choose their future.

They had a chance to redress the past, to redress the wrongs done, and yet what are they doing?

They are doing far worse than ever. Hundreds of innocent people have been killed in recent months, thousands of people abducted, forced out of their land, thousands denied medical supplies, humanitarian assistance, even water, and all of this is happening right under the eyes of the international community.

Q: The United Nations as you know has condemned the violence. Does that go far enough?

A: No it is not far enough.


Jose Ramos-Horta: "The Indonesian army has the audacity to bring in hooligans to attack the East Timorese"
I have to say I was among those who, soon after the Indonesian economic and financial crisis erupted over a year ago, urged the World Bank, the State Department, the US Congress to provide assistance to Indonesia, because in spite of my sentiments about the occupation of East Timor I was in sympathy with Indonesian people.

But today I am saying it is immoral for the World Bank to continue to release funds to Indonesia, for the IMF, for the European Union, for the US government, for Australia to continue to release funds to a government which has no power.

It has no power over its army, an army which is wasting millions of dollars in waging a savage war against East Timor, challenging, breaching all international agreements, challenging the United Nations with absolute audacity under the eyes of the international media.

With UN personnel on the ground, Indonesian police and army continue to instigate violence there, they continue to provide guns, weapons to the militias.

They even have the audacity of bringing into East Timor hundreds, hundreds of people from Indonesia, arming them as well.

The militias are not all East Timorese, most of them in fact are recruited in Kupang on the other side of the island. They are brought from as far away as Java.

A few days ago at least 150 hooligans landed from Ambon: they are part of the so-called Pemuda Pancasila, a fascist right-wing group founded by the army, linked to the army intelligence, that was in Ambon orchestrating anti-Christian violence, now they are in East Timor to attack the East Timorese.

Q: So are you saying Jakarta is behind this campaign of intimidation?

Q: Absolutely. It is General Wiranto and all the commanding officers who are responsible for that.

I certainly would dissociate President B.J. Habibie and other civilians in his cabinet - like the Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas, the minister of justice. These seem to be honourable men.

But the Indonesian military are part of the problem in East Timor and elsewhere in the region.

Unless countries like the United Kingdom take drastic action, freeze financial assistance, freeze all military co-operation, we are going to continue to see for a long time this army operating with impunity in East Timor, in Aceh, where thousands of people have been slaughtered over the years, where this vicious violence is going on, in West Papua where an indigenous people have been slaughtered for decades now.



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