Subject: ASEAN SHOULD FOLLOW AUSTRALIAS REVISAL ON EAST TIMOR -- APCET
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 16:20:26 +0800
From: Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor <apcet@skyinet.net>

ASEAN SHOULD FOLLOW AUSTRALIA’S REVISAL ON EAST TIMOR -- APCET

The Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor East is urging the ASEAN governments to support East Timor’s self-determination following Australia's latest shift of its own policy on the territory.

Australia, the only country in the world that formally recognizes Indonesia's sovereignty over East Timor announced early last week that its government is now supporting the territory's right to self-determination.

Ever since Indonesia brutally invaded East Timor 23 years ago, its ASEAN neighbors have been silent about the occupation which the United Nations has deemed illegal. Australia inked a joint oil exploration contract with the erstwhile Suharto regime shortly after the Indonesian invasion in 1975.

The United Nations has never recognized the Indonesian annexation. U.N.

Security Council resolutions calling on Indonesia to withdraw from East Timor "without delay" have been repeatedly defied by Indonesia. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan and his special representative, Jamsheed Marker, have initiated new negotiations between Portugal (East Timor's former colonial ruler remains the "administering power" of the country under international law) and Indonesia. The East Timrorese have not been part of the talks. They have demanded that they be represented by their undisputed leader, Xanana Gusmao, who is imprisoned in Jakarta following his capture in 1992. APCET believes his participation in the on-going negotiations will contribute positively to arriving at a just, peaceful and internationally acceptable solution to the East Timorese conflict.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in Adelaide last week that the Indonesian government should also “involve rebel leader Xanana Gusmao” who is now serving a twenty year prison term in Jakarta’s Cipinang jail, so that he could play an important role in discussions.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas insists that the UN talks can be complete despite little sign of any agreement. Indonesia is sticking doggedly to its position that autonomy is the only and final solution to the East Timor problem. The East Timorese have been demanding self-determination. To them autonomy should only lead to self-determination in the future.

APCET is likewise calling on the ASEAN to urge the Indonesian Government to modify its stonewalling policy on the problem of East Timor so that the UN-brokered negotiations can make more rapid progress and a solution to this problem can be found as soon as possible, ensuring the self-determination of this territory through an independent referendum. The right of all people to self-determination is guaranteed by the United Nations Charter. APCET says that ASEAN must rectify its mistakes in the past and unconditionally support East Timor’s self-determination now.


Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) Secretariat

c/o Initiatives for International Dialogue 27-D Galaxy Street, GSIS Heights, Matina 8000 Davao City, Philippines

Telefax: (63 82) 299-2052; Tel: (63 82) 299-2574 to 75 Web: http://www.skyinet.net/~apcet

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