Subject: FORTILOS: Jan 29 Response to Alatas' Statement on East Timor
From: "maria gorete" <>

FORUM SOLIDARITAS UNTUK RAKYAT TIMOR LORO SAE SOLIDARITY FORUM FOR THE PEOPLE OF TIMOR LORO SAE (FORTILOS) Jl. Siaga II No. 31 Pejaten Barat, Jakarta 12510 Telephone : (021) 791.927.63 Facsimile : (021) 791.925.19 E-mail :


With reference to the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Alatas, on January 27, 1999 regarding the position of the Indonesian government on the problem of East Timor, FORTILOS, which consists of religious organisations, human rights groups, and concerned individuals perceive the need to state the following points:

The problem of East Timor arose because of a difference between the Indonesian government and the international community, in this case the United Nations, in perceiving the problem. For the Indonesian government, East Timor became a part of the United State of the Republic of Indonesia because of the will of the East Timorese themselves which is stated in: 1. The statement of four political parties (Apodeti, UDT, Kota and Trabalhista) on November 30, 1975, which is known as Balibo Declaration;

2. Resolution of the People's Representative Council of East Timor in May 1976 and petition to the President of Republic of Indonesia and the People's Representative Council (DPR RI). This petition was responded positively by executing Law No. 7/1976 and MPR Decree No. 6/1978.

The Indonesian position is rejected by the UN which considers Indonesia to have invaded East Timor and annexed this region in contravention to the norms of international law. Therefore, Indonesia violated the principle of self-determination and committed an illegal aggressive act. There have been two UN Security Council Resolutions (UN Security Council Resolution 384/1975 on 22 December 1975 and UN Security Council Resolution 389/1976 on 22 April 1976) and eight UN General Assembly Resolutions (Resolution 3485 [XXX] 12 December 1975, Resolution 31/53 1 December 1976, Resolution 32/34 28 November 1978, Resolution 33/39 13 December 1978, Resolution 34/40 21 November 1979, Resolution 35/27 11 November 1980, Resolution 36/50 24 November 1981, and Resolution 37/30 23 November 1982). These resolutions condemned Indonesia's act of aggression, called for the withdrawal of Indonesian troops from East Timor, and encouraged Indonesia to respect the right of the East Timorese to self determination (in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 [XV] 14 December 1960).

It is clear that the problem of East Timor is an international problem and thus it has to be resolved by the United Nations. Therefore, what is proposed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Alatas, will not resolve the problem because the position stated intends not to resolve the problem in an international forum, in this case the UN, but in an Indonesian forum: the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) of the Republic of Indonesia.

Within the terrain of Indonesia's internal politics, the question of East Timor's integration has to be raised for discussion. The integration of East Timor was preceded by a brutal Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) attack on December 7, 1975 under the name "Operation Seroja." (Actually, there had been an intelligence operation before this attack with the code name "Operation Komodo.") The Indonesian government claimed the assault was meant to restore security to a region left in a state of civil war by Portugal. It was conducted to fulfill the demand of the people of Portuguese-Timor who were trying to liberate themselves from colonialism. As was proven later, this attack was nothing more than the beginning of a prolonged war between ABRI and the East Timorese guerrilla forces fighting for national liberation. From the Indonesian side, the war was carried out without asking permission from the People's Representative Council of the Republic (DPR RI) despite the constitution's requirement that the DPR RI give prior consent for the state to begin a war. The decision to go to war in East Timor since 1975 was unconstitutionally made. Consequently, the President at that time has to be responsible for this violation of the 1945 Constitution of the Republic.

We only have to ground ourselves in the 1945 Constitution and the history of the formation of this nation for resolving the East Timor problem. The Preamble of the 1945 Constitution stresses the principle that it is the right of every nation to be free from colonialism. The Indonesian nation-state itself was formed as a result of a historic, prolonged anti-colonial struggle. This is the reason why this nation had been very active in fighting for the freedom of the colonized nations since its independence. The Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung 1955 which gave birth to the "Bandung Ten Principles" -- among them the right to self-determination -- was a peak of this nation's struggle. Rejecting this principle means betraying our own constitution and history.

Jakarta, 29 January 1999

Ita Fatia Nadia
Chief of Working Committee

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