Subject: APCET Council Statement
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 1998 17:01:24 +0800
From: Initiatives for International Dialogue <iiddvo@skyinet.net>

APCET COUNCIL STATEMENT 31 August 1998 Jakarta, Indonesia

The Council of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) has just met in Jakarta in the last two days. This is an historical event as holding peaceful, productive meetings or assemblies such as this was not possible under the dictatorship of Soeharto.

The winds of democratic change have begun to sweep through the immense repression in this great nation. We salute the Indonesian people for their long, unceasing, brave and lonely struggle in ousting Soeharto as a first step to this democratic change.

This APCET Council Meeting has come amidst the fall of Soeharto whose dictatorship ran roughshod over the entire archipelago for 32 years, who colonised other nations such as East Timor and who bullied his neighbors through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into complying with his ruthless policies. Ironically this APCET Council Meeting also comes at the heels of the 53rd anniversary of Indonesia’s independence won valiantly from the Dutch by the same Indonesian people who consequently endured Soeharto’s authoritarian rule.

Since 1994, APCET has been committed to seeking a just and peaceful means to end the violent occupation in East Timor. It has been working for the self-determination of this tiny and valiant nation, and maintains that the time is overdue for Indonesia to unconditionally withdraw from the territory and respect the right of the East Timorese to self-determination.

The new regime in Jakarta has publicly committed to "build a just, open and democratic society", however APCET reminds the current Indonesian administration that East Timor had been illegally invaded and annexed by Indonesia since 1975. The last 23 years has seen rape and reproductive sterilisation of Timorese women, as well as massacres, torture, secret and arbitrary political detentions of Timorese civilians by the Indonesian military.

In the context of this reminder APCET would like to respond to specific policy proposals made by the Habibie administration on East Timor since the 21st May 1998. APCET responses are as follows:

1. On the proposal made by President B.J. Habibie to release the leader of the Timorese resistance Xanana Gusmao in return for international recognition of Indonesia’s sovereignty of East Timor, APCET supports the response from Xanana Gusmao on this proposal, which is to reject it. APCET will not support the annihilation of the process of accountability for human rights abuses that have and continue to occur in East Timor, in exchange for the release of the leader of the Timorese people, as has been reiterated by the Timorese resistance movement.

2. On the much publicised withdrawal of troops from East Timor in the recent months, APCET wishes to emphasise that in relation to the actual numbers of troops currently operating within East Timor, this withdrawal is merely a charade for the consumption of the international community and media.

3. On the proposal made by President Habibie to make East Timor an “autonomous region”: APCET, in supporting the East Timorese in their struggle for self-determination, see this move as prolonging the problem. As articulated by xanana Gusmao, we reject the autonomy as a final solution to the problem of East Timor.

APCET calls on the Indonesian government to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release the East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao to take his rightful position leading the East Timor participation in the talks and negotiations on the future of East Timor under UN auspices.

2. To release all other East Timorese and Indonesian political prisoners.

3. To immidiately withdraw all Indonesian troops from East Timor and disband all paramilitary forces.

4. To hold a referendum in East Timor on the freedom for East Timor as was and continues to be demanded by the people of East Timor as the necessary process of self-determination.

We believe the Indonesian people resonate with this call. The people of Indonesia have for too long been deceived by their government about the real situation in East Timor and their own country. Having fought against colonialism and tyranny in their own land, the Indonesian people will never accept this same situation in another. Particularly if their own soldiers are used to further the fascist and colonial ambitions of corrupt and brutal leaders.

Evn as we support and salute Indonesia’s pro-democracy movement. we re-affirm the certitude that East Timor's freedom will be won by the East Timorese people themselves, as Indonesia's total reformation and democracy will also be realised by the Indonesian themselves. There is no other way. The only route to real democracy, reform, freedom and genuine independence is through the path of justice.

APCET thanks our Indonesian hosts for making our meeting very productive and challenging.

APCET re-affirms its commitment to resolutely work for the self-determination of East Timor.

APCET is committed to accompany the Indonesian people in its own continuing quest for genuine democracy, reform and progress.

APCET is looking forward to holding its next unencumbered meeting in a free East Timor.

31 August 1998 Jakarta, Indonesia

-- Initiatives for International Dialogue 27-D Galaxy Street GSIS Heights, Davao City 8000 Philippines Telefax: (63)(82) 299-2052 Tel: (63)(82) 299-2574 to 75 Web: http://www.dvo.skyinet.net/~iiddvo or http://www.iid.home.ml.org

IID is also maintaining the following sites:

- Mindanao-Palawan Peoples Network on BIMP-EAGA (MPPN): http://www.skyinet.net/~iiddvo/mppn or http://www.mppn.home.ml.org

- Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET): http://www.skyinet.net/~iiddvo/apcet

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