Subject: East Timor Appeal
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 21:17:39 -0400
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (by way of "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>)
Society for Threatened Peoples P.O. Box 20 24 37010 Göttingen e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRESS RELEASE Göttingen, August 27, 1998
100th day of office of Indonesian president - Distinguished World Personalities Appeal to Habibie: Take Serious Steps to Solve the East Timor Issue
With an appeal signed by distinguished personalities, launched on the occasion of the 100th day in office of Indonesian president Yusuf Habibie on August 28, the Society for Threatened Peoples called on Habibie to induce serious steps towards a solution of the East Timor conflict. "We appeal to you to immediately withdraw all military from the territory of East Timor. [...] The presence of the armed forces is not a sign of stability but of suppression. Uncon-ditionally release all political prisoners including Xanana Gusmão", the appeal says. It was signed among others by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Bishop Tutu, Danielle Mitterrand, Simon Wiesenthal, Sharon Silber of the US-American organisation "Jews Against Genocide", Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker of the German Wuppertal Institut and the former NATO General Hanno Graf von Kielmannsegg. The signatories further demanded that the grave human rights violations committed to the East Timorese under Indonesian rule be thoroughly investigated and that a UN monitored referendum on the future status of East Timor be held.
On May 21 Habibie took over the presidency of Indonesia. He an-nounced reforms for East Timor, which in 1975 was invaded by Indonesian troops, occupying the former Portuguese colony. Approx. 200,000 East Timorese have since fallen victim to crimes of genocide. During the first 18 months under Indonesian occu-pation approximately 80,000 people were shot or tortured to death.
While the Society for Threatened Peoples acknowledged that Habibie has withdrawn 1000 out of at least 12,000 troops based in East Timor, they criticized that according to estimates between 260 and 800 army members were sent in again. Furthermore, the condition for a release of Gusmão, namely that the independence movement accept East Timor to be part of Indonesia, is inac-ceptable. Even the United Nations have never recognized the annexion of East Timor. "After all the suffering the East Timorese must have the chance to decide over their future themselves," the Society for Threatened Peoples commented.
The appeal closes: "As the new president of Indonesia you have the chance and the duty to restore justice in East Timor. The eyes of the world are resting on you, and the credibility of your demo-cratisation activities will be judged by your conduct in this matter."
Signatories: Paddy Ashdown (Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, GB), His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Günter Grass (writer, Germany), Martina Gredler (Liberales Forum, Wien), Hazel Henderson (writer, author of Building a Win Win World, Florida), John Hume (Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Northern Ireland), Hanno Graf von Kielmannsegg (former NATO General, Germany), Gertraud Knoll (Superintendent, Austria), Danielle Mitterrand, Professor John Polanyi (Nobel Laureate for Chemistry), John Silber (President of Boston University), Sharon Silber ("Jews against Genocide", New York), Bishop Tutu, Professor Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Head of the Wuppertal Institut, Germany), Simon Wiesenthal (Head of the Jewish Documentation Center, Vienna). Thor Heyerdahl supports the call for a UN monitored referendum.
To the President of the Republic of Indonesia President Yusuf Habibie
Fax: +62 21 3 45 77 05 Göttingen, in August 1998
On August, 28 your time in office will complete 100 days. The question of East Timor has been on your agenda from the very beginning. You promised a special status for East Timor, announced the withdrawal of Indonesian military, suggested a (conditional) release for Xanana Gusmao. We, the undersigned, appreciate these steps. However, we strongly feel that in view of the events of the past 23 years these promises do not sufficiently meet the demands of the East Timorese. Your Excellency, as the new president of Indonesia you entered into the heritage of former president Suharto. It is no pleasant heritage: the heritage of the 1975 invasion of East Timor and a seemingly endless list of human rights violations. Approximately 200,000 East Timorese have lost their lives resisting the occupation of their country. Many of those who survive have been submitted to intimidation, to torture, to rape. The massacre of November 12, 1991, is but an example of the choice of methods to oppress any kind of resistance against this suppression, be it peaceful.
While the Indonesian government under Suharto tried to force the integration of the East Timorese by a blend of economic and military means, the failure of this operation was predictable as instead of confidence building activities there has been a climate of terror in the country. Integration cannot work when those to be integrated are terrorized rather than consulted. Dialogue is essential - but it must be a dialogue that takes into account the injustice inflicted in the past.
Your Excellency, we, the undersigned, therefore appeal to you to
1. immediately withdraw all military from the territory of East Timor. In view of the past brutal operations of the armed forces their presence is not a sign of stability but of suppression.
2. unconditionally release all political prisoners including Xanana Gusmao. It is inacceptable that you couple prisoners' freedom with East Timor's denial of its right to independence - a right repeatedly acknowledged by the United Nations.
3. initiate a thorough investigation into human rights violations committed to the East Timorese, ensure that those responsible are punished and that the population of East Timor is protected from further human rights violations.
4. carry out a United Nations monitored referendum in East Timor which puts into practice the right to self-determination. The result of this referendum must then be implemented.
Your Excellency, after more than 20 years of injustice and terror both the human costs and the financial have by far outweighed any Indonesian benefits of East Timor's invasion. As the new president of Indonesia you have the chance and the duty to restore justice in East Timor. The eyes of the world are resting on you, and the credibility of your democratisation activities will be judged by your conduct in this matter.
Paddy Ashdown (Leader of the Liberal Party, GB) His Holiness the Dalai Lama Günter Grass (writer, Germany) Martina Gredler (Liberal Forum, Vienna) Hazel Henderson (writer and author of "Building a Win Win World", Florida) John Hume (leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Northern Ireland) Hanno Graf von Kielmannsegg (NATO-General a.D., Germany) Gertraud Knoll (Superintendent of Burgenland, Austria) Danielle Mitterrand Professor John Polanyi (Nobel Laureate for chemistry) John Silber (President of the Boston University) Sharon Silber ("Jews against Genocide", New York) Bishop Tutu Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Head of the Wuppertal Institut, Germany) Simon Wiesenthal (Head of the Jewish Documentation Centre, Vienna)
Thor Heyerdahl signed the following extract from the appeal: "Your Excellency, I strongly appeal to you to carry out a United nations monitored referendum in East Timor, which puts into practice the right to self determination. The result of this referendum must then be implemented."