Subject: AN: F. Sarmento - Timor under colonial rule


Atambua, E Nusa Tenggara, - An East Timorese non-governmental organization (NGO) activist, Florentino Sarmento, claimed here Friday that East Timor is under a multi-national colonial rule.

Speaking to newsmen in this town which borders with East Timor, Sarmento said the present colonial rule has thrown the East Timorese into greater misery than during integration with Indonesia.

He asserted that the sweet promises by the international community that the East Timorese would soon enjoy a better life following last year's popular ballot, have missed the mark widely.

He pointed out that he based his statement from reports he had received from Timor Leste (East Timor).

According to Sarmento, the reports came from a foundation in Timor Leste and various personalities, which included pro-independence figures in Dili.

He however did not name names.

"The presence of foreign parties in Timor Leste following last year's popular ballot does not lead to the desired independence, but to a new form of colonialism," he observed.

While the foreigners live in luxury, Sarmento quoted the reports, the East Timorese do not even have the resource to rebuild their houses.

Citing examples of the new colonialism, he referred to the use of English as the official language, and escudo as the currency in Timor Leste.

Asked by newsmen whether he thinks it possible for East Timor to reunite with West Timor, Sarmento said "it is not impossible that someday, the East Timorese might choose it as an alternative."

Sarmento reminded that East Timor and West Timor were traditionally one.

"But colonialism divided the brothers across the borders," he said.

Call by Bishop Belo

On the occasion, Sarmento also confirmed that Dili diocese Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has asked him to return to Dili to help build a peaceful and prosperous Timor Leste.

According to him, Belo conveyed the request through an activist of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Dr Klaus Peler.

Sarmento said he has not given any response to the request because he does not agree with Belo's involvement in practical politics.

What is more, he noted, Bishop Belo has always been partisan, taking sides with one group only, the National Resistance Council of East Timor (CNRT).

"In the history of East Timor's integration with Indonesia, Bishop Belo only found fault in the Indonesian government. Actually both camps -- the pro-integration and pro-independence camps -- had their own share of mistakes, thus prolonging the conflict to two decades," Sarmento said.

Source : Antara, March 31, 2000

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