|Subject: Jose Ramos Horta backs US attacks
East Timor foreign minister backs US attacks in Afghanistan
JAKARTA, Oct 16 (AFP) - East Timor's foreign minister Jose Ramos Horta has supported the US-led air attacks on Afghanistan, saying his people have personal experience of the "scourge of terrorism."
The Nobel peace laureate, in a commentary in Tuesday's International Herald Tribune, said the use of force against Osama bin Laden, his terrorist network and the Taliban regime which shelters them was "inevitable and necessary."
"Peoples of all religions must overcome the barriers of suspicion and prejudice and make common cause against the scourge of terrorism, whether state-sponsored or not," Ramos Horta said.
After East Timorese voted overwhelmingly in August 1999 to break from Indonesia, pro-Jakarta militias supported by sections of the Indonesian military unleashed a reign of terror and destruction.
This was ended by the arrival of a multinational peacekeeping force including contingents from Muslim countries.
"How could we East Timorese today profess a false pacifism in relation to terrorism and Afghanistan?" said Ramos Horta. "Such an attitude, in the face of evil, leads to inaction and betrayal of the victims of oppression.
"For this reason I endorse the use of force against the Tailiban regime. It has taken Afghanistan back to the Dark Ages."
Ramos Horta, whose territory is due to achieve full independence next year, urged Washington also to address the conditions in which terrorism can breed with a "new Marshall Plan." This should aim to eradicate poverty in the world's poorest regions including Afghanistan.
José Ramos-Horta IHT Tuesday, October 16, 2001
DILI, East Timor We must always pause and ask if the use of force to deter violence or punish the perpetrators of terrorism and genocide is the only option available.
As a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, I agonized over NATO's use of force in Kosovo. I supported it after concluding that all diplomatic channels and efforts to stop the ethnic cleansing of Muslim Kosovars by the Milosevic regime had failed.
Again, I have reflected on the decision of the United States and its allies to use force against Osama bin Laden, his terrorist network and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that shelters them. I believe that the use of force was inevitable and necessary.
There is no cause, however noble, that can validate the use of violence and terrorism against innocent civilians. The suicide attacks in New York and Washington were an abomination. Terrorism is an evil that must be fought relentlessly everywhere. Peoples of all religions must overcome the barriers of suspicion and prejudice and make common cause against the scourge of terrorism, whether state-sponsored or not. As a Timorese, I have some personal experience here.
In September 1999, an overwhelming majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia in a UN-sponsored referendum on self-determination. In response, elements in the Indonesian military unleashed militia gangs to punish the people.
We appealed to the United Nations, the United States, Australia and Portugal to send military forces to save our people. The civilian government in Indonesia finally agreed, and more than 30 countries sent an international force with a UN mandate to restore peace.
Today in East Timor, which is a mainly Catholic country, we have troops from an array of nations representing different geographic regions and religious beliefs. Muslim countries are well represented. We have a combat battalion from Jordan, army engineering units from Bangladesh and Pakistan, and military observers and advisers from Malaysia. How could we East Timorese today profess a false pacifism in relation to terrorism and Afghanistan? Such an attitude, in the face of evil, leads to inaction and betrayal of the victims of oppression. For this reason I endorse the use of force against the Taliban regime. It has taken Afghanistan back to the Dark Ages.
I am confident that America will prevail in this struggle. But it must look beyond the immediate threat posed by bin Laden and the Taliban regime to the conditions in which terrorism can breed. I hope that once the dust settles the Group of Seven industrial powers and Russia, working with the United Nations, the World Bank and the private sector, will forge a new Marshall Plan to eradicate poverty in the poorest regions of the world, including Afghanistan.
The writer, who acts as foreign minister in the temporary UN administration in East Timor, contributed this comment to the International Herald Tribune.
Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from http://www.v3inc.com/