Subject: Xanana: East Timorese will overlook past horrors of war
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 16:34:23 +0000
From: "East Timor International Support Center" <email@example.com>
Xanana: East Timorese will overlook the past horrors of war
JAKARTA -- The East Timorese people will overlook the horrors of war for the past 23 years and consider the invasion of their country, by the Indonesians, a 'mistake in history' if Jakarta is willing to allow them a stronger say in their own political future, jailed Resistance leader Xanana Gusmao told a seminar yesterday.
In a paper prepared for the seminar entitled "Towards A Peaceful End To East Timor's Problems in the Post-Suharto Era", organised by the Solidamor group in Jakarta -- a network of Indonesian activists seeking a peaceful solution to the East Timor problem -- Xanana said his people are ready for political compromises at this juncture in time, after the resignation of Suharto, to build better ties with the Indonesian people and a democratic Indonesia.
"We are willing to forget the past wounds, the past 23 years of war in order to have a better relationship with the Indonesian people. Let the past be considered as a mistake in history," said Xanana. The speech in Bahasa Indonesia was smuggled out of Cipinang Jail, where he is serving a 20-year sentence for conspiring against the Indonesian state, to the Indonesian organisers of the seminar.
However the Resistance leader -- who is also the president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) -- added as a first step the Indonesian government must allow more East Timorese participation in the UN-sponsored All-Inclusive East Timorese Dialogue (AIETD) talks.
"As a start, the AIETD must be intensified with more East Timorese people being able to have their say and exchange views. They must, in the end, be able to discuss the political future of East Timor in that forum," said Xanana.
"I say in the end, because under Suharto the AIETD could not discuss a political solution or political matters. Now things have changed and I hope political matters become the focus of the AIETD," explained Xanana.
The jailed Resistance leader said he wanted his people to be on equal standing with the Indonesians in any dialogue over the political status of East Timor.
"If the Indonesian government is open-minded enough to allow the discussions of political matters, with the full participation of the East Timorese, there won't be any winners or losers in the resolution of the East Timor conflict. We will, also, find a face-saving and new way for the Indonesian armed forces [ABRI] in the overall solution," said Xanana.
In an appeal to Jakarta not to scuttle the spirit of the AIETD talks, Xanana urged the Indonesian government not to put forth to the international community that East Timorese delegates from Indonesia were pro-integration and those overseas were against Jakarta and, hence, anti-integration.
"Confidence-building starts with small steps and they are important now in finding a peaceful solution to East Timor."
Referring to Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, Xanana said Alatas had to "realise that he was not representing the East Timorese people but the interests of Indonesia instead."
"The time has come for Minister Alatas to realise that he is no longer from the repressive Suharto regime, but a minister in a government which is pro-reforms in Indonesia."
Xanana said there will not be any headway towards a peaceful solution if a referendum is not held in East Timor.
"We are willing to compromise and dialogue with all parties concerned to find a solution to the East Timor problem, and at the same time respecting the interests of Indonesia. But for anything substantial to happen, it has to be through a referendum and we are realistic that it's going to happen soon. We have waited for the past 23 years!"
For a full text of Xanana Gusmao's speech in Bahasa Indonesia please visit http://www.easttimor.com
For further details please contact Coki Naispospos or Roy Pakpahan in Jakarta at +62-21-981-3810 OR Sonny Inbaraj, in Darwin, at +61-8-89484458
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