Subject: LUSA: Ramos Horta sends message to meeting of "liurais" in Macau
From: "Sharon R.A. Scharfe" <>

11 FEV 99 - 09:15 East Timor: Ramos Horta sends message to meeting of "liurais" in Macau

Macau, Feb 10 (Lusa) - East Timor Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta said in a message released in Macau on Thursday the United Nations should prepare his occupied homeland for independence. Ramos Horta said in the message sent to the First Convention of East Timor Traditional Sovereign Rulers ("liurais") in Macau the UN should establish a transitional administration in East Timor after Indonesia's withdrawal from the half-island off northern Australia. Ramos Horta, vice-president of the Timorese National Resistance Council, also said in the message from Lisbon dated February 10 that East Timor would be able to "survive without Jakarta." The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who lives in Australia and Portugal, also said his homeland had reached an "historic moment, ... a moment of prudence, intelligence and creativity, ... a moment of tolerance, unity and reconciliation."

Ramos Horta urged East Timor's pro-Indonesian residents not to fear independence of their homeland. East Timor has been under military occupation of Indonesia since December 1975. Jakarta has indicated it is ready to withdraw from East Timor if the territory's population rejects its offer of autonomy. Ramos Horta also said in the message that East Timor's resistance movement, namely FRETILIN (Independent East Timor Revolutionary Front) and the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) should have the necessary courage and humility to recognise mistakes made in the past that contributed to the territory's tragedy in the past 23 years. FRETILIN and UDT fought a brief civil war before the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975.

Ramos Horta described "brother" Xanana Gusmao as "our leader." The Indonesian ministry of justice transferred Gusmao from a prison cell to special detention in a government-owned house in Jakarta on Wednesday. Ramos Horta, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with East Timorese Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo in Oslo in 1996, said he was confident that the international community would support the establishment of a free and independent East Timor. Ramos Horta was unable to attend the meeting in Macau because of previous engagements, including an audience with Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio in Lisbon on Thursday. The three-day meeting of traditional East Timorese chieftains, known as "liurais" in Tetum, is organised by the Macau East Timorese Association - Rai Timor. About three dozen "liruais" take part in the meeting that centres on East Timor's future political and administrative structure. The meeting, which opened on Thursday, will also discuss self-government, including public administration and local "kingships" held by the traditional chieftains, and human resources development. The "liurais" are planned to set up a Senate on Friday.

The UN has never recognised Indonesia's annexation of East Timor, a former Portuguese overseas province. The UN continues to regard Portugal as the territory's legitimate administering power. Lisbon demands that East Timor be given the right of self-determination. The 18,899 square kilometre territory has about 750,000 inhabitants, 91 per cent of who are Roman Catholic. Tetum and Portuguese are its main languages.-Lusa nnnn

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