|Subject: Newsweek: Interview: Jose
Alexandre (Xanana) Gusmao
Newsweek: Interview: Jose Alexandre (Xanana) Gusmao Leader of The National Council of Timorese Resistance
If the Militias 'Come From West Timor to Fight Us in East Timor,
Then We Should Strike Back and Destroy Them Inside West Timor,'
Says Former Rebel Leader
NEW YORK, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Former East Timorese rebel leader Jose Alexandre (Xanana) Gusmao tells Newsweek International in an interview in the current issue that "if [the militias] come from West Timor to fight us in East Timor, then we should strike back and destroy them inside West Timor." Gusmao, currently the head of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, says "the enemy is now becoming more aggressive" because they are "counting on the fact that [U.N.] peacekeeping has been a disaster in some parts of the world."
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000826/HSSA007 )
He also appeals to the international community to send the "strongest message to the Indonesian government, military and political parties to stop supporting the militias immediately." Gusmao tells Bangkok Bureau Chief Ron Moreau in the September 4 issue (on newsstands Monday, August 28) that the international community "shouldn't allow a group of criminals to undermine this U.N.-supported process toward independence."
(Article attached. Read Newsweek's press releases at www.Newsweek.MSNBC.com. Click "Pressroom.")
Starting 'A New Country'
A guerrilla leader talks about learning democracy
Jailed for seven years and later exiled as a rebel leader, Jose Alexandre (Xanana) Gusmao returned home to East Timor soon after Indonesian troops pulled out last year. As leader of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), a post that he resigned over the weekend, he has been working closely with the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) to prepare for a presidential vote next year. He is also widely expected to win the election. Xanana recently talked with Newsweek's Ron Moreau in his office in Dili. Excerpts:
Moreau: What's your vision for East Timor?
Gusmao: We are starting a new country, new in absolutely every way, from almost nothing. We hardly know where to start. I think we Timorese should concentrate on building an efficiently functioning government during this transitional phase. Sometimes, I feel I offend East Timorese when I appeal to everyone to be humble, to learn and be responsible. Right now we have four [East Timorese] ministers out of a cabinet of eight in UNTAET. Soon we will have 33 in the new National Council [a U.N. advisory and legislative body]. With these structures in place I will push our people every day to take their new jobs very seriously.
Can democracy survive in a country that's never experienced it?
In our independence fight, we fought for the universal values of justice, democracy and human rights. But we only knew these concepts in a negative way. We knew of democracy because of repression; we knew human rights because we were being killed and tortured. We have to prepare our population well and teach them the concepts and conditions that are needed to build a strong and free civil society.
What is the meaning of independence to you?
We saw in many newly independent countries that independence only means having a flag, a government, an army. But to the population there is no great change in living conditions. During these past 25 years our people have suffered greatly. So what they are rightly expecting from independence is a gradual, and eventually absolute, improvement in their living standards.
How would you deal with the militia threat from West Timor?
There are still East Timorese who are trying to accomplish a sabotage mission drawn up by someone in Indonesia. They are counting on the fact that [U.N.] peacekeeping has been a disaster in some parts of the world. That's why the enemy is now becoming more aggressive.
But what can be done?
We and the U.N. have to review everything. Not only to avoid casualties on our side but also to be more aggressive and destroy the capability of the enemy. So my opinion as a former guerrilla leader is this: if [the militias] come from West Timor to fight us in East Timor, then we should strike back and destroy them inside West Timor.
Is there a nonmilitary alternative?
I want to take this opportunity to appeal to the international community. It shouldn't allow a group of criminals to undermine this U.N.-supported process toward independence. The United States, the U.N., the World Bank and the IMF, which play such important roles in Indonesia, should send the strongest message to the Indonesian government, military and political parties to stop supporting the militias immediately. Only then will Indonesians finally act. They know that without that international help their economy will never recover.
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