Subject: LUSA: Gusmao wants reconciliation, not international court

23-10-2002 11:41:00. Notícia nº 4254637…

East Timor: Gusmao wants reconciliation, not international court

President Xanana Gusmao defended Wednesday a dynamic of national reconciliation rather than the setting up of an international court to try human rights abuses committed in East Timor.

"There is talk of an international court, but an international court for whom? For Timorese? I would be the first to disagree", Gusmao told Dili's legislature in a 90-minute speech.

He charged the international community and unnamed foreign non- governmental organizations of seeking to impose inappropriate "international standards" on East Timor.

"Some say there is no reconciliation without justice. But why? Do we not have our own experience of forgetting the past, of forgiving each other"?, Gusmao argued.

He insisted the Timorese "do not need the standards of other countries".

In contrast to the government's demands for the trial of Indonesian officers and officials and Timorese militias responsible for the wave of anti-independence violence in 1999, Gusmao has long championed a policy of forgive-and-forget reconciliation.

"Social justice is the best remedy for trauma", the president told the lawmakers, questioning the value of imprisoning abusers of human rights while leaving "the wife and five children of the victim" without aid.

He said, for the first time, that he had opposed the former UN transition administration's decision to set up a special court in Dili to try "serious crimes" committed around the time of the independence plebiscite in 1999.

"Ninety-five percent of the crimes were committed during the previous 24 years", Gusmao said, apparently referring simultaneously to Indonesia's brutal occupation, Timorese resistance and the excesses of the country's brief but bloody civil war in 1975.

He criticized former UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello, currently the UN's High Commissioner for Human Right, for having initially accepted dialogue with repentant militias, but later ordering that they be arrested on crossing the border from Indonesia.

"This is the inheritance he left", Gusmao said, adding that he recently raised the issue with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, given that Timorese security forces remain under UN supervision.

The president announced that he was taking his concern for reconciliation to Indonesian West Timor next month, leading a delegation of about 100, including Parliament Speaker Francisco Guterres, cabinet ministers, sports and cultural groups.

The visit, scheduled for Nov. 1-4, will include tours of refugee camps where many thousands of East Timorese refugees and hundreds of former militiamen remain in miserable conditions.

ASP/SAS -Lusa-

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