Subject: UN: JRH speaks at UN Human Rights Commission

[Timor excerpts only]


Commission on Human Rights 56th session 12 April 2000 Afternoon

East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos Horta Speaks

... At 330 p.m., the Commission was addressed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor, who said, among other things, that East Timor was now focusing on reconstruction and was normalizing relations with Indonesia and attempting to bury the past. Mr. Ramos Horta said there had been many exchanges of visits between top officials from both sides, and commendable efforts were now under way to punish those responsible for human-rights violations following the East Timorese vote in favour of independence from Indonesia.


Jose Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of East Timor, said that East Timor was now forced to build a new future from the ashes of destruction. He expressed gratitude to the countries that had come to the rescue of East Timor when it had faced destruction. A coalition of more than 30 nations had saved one nation. Every year the Commission reviewed various situations. But there were more situations, less known but no less deserving of attention. The nature of East Timor was different, it was time for reconstruction. East Timor had won an epic battle, a battle of minds, not a battle of weapons. East Timorese had only sympathy for their neighbouring country, and support for their new democracy. They were now normalizing their relations with Indonesia and attempting to bury the past. There had been many exchanges of visits between top officials from both sides, which showed the commitment to bury the past. There were also demands for the punishment of those accountable for violations and impunity had to come to an end for those holding public office. He commended the courageous efforts of the Indonesian President in bringing to justice those responsible. After the vote for independence, the slow process of nation building had began in East Timor but there was a serious lack of administrative and institutional infrastructures.

The East Timorese were participating in all policy decisions, through the National Consultative Council. A new court system with East Timorese judges and prosecutors had been set up. Thousands of refugees were slowly returning, and United Nations agencies and private humanitarian groups had mounted heroic efforts to feed and care for those deprived of their homes and livelihoods. It was essential that donor countries supply more support if East Timor was to move forward. East Timor called for the debt cancellation of all least developed countries. East Timor had been destroyed by war and impoverished by centuries of colonialization, neglect and mismanagement, but now it had a chance to defeat poverty and become relatively prosperous. One of the first act of the newly elected parliament would be the ratification of all the existing human rights instruments.

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