Subject: DPA: Xanana: Money spent destroying Iraq dwarfs funds for world's poor

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Deutsche Presse-Agentur

December 2, 2003

Money spent destroying Iraq dwarfs funds for world's poor - Gusmao


The world's poor get a pittance in financial aid compared with money spent on the Iraq war, said East Timor's President Jose Alexandre (Xanana) Gusmao on Tuesday.

It was unfair to "spend billions on the destruction of Iraq" while only giving millions to the poor countries, said Gusmao at a press conference on the sidelines of the current U.N. Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) general conference.

However, the developing countries also had to earn the trust of the rich, said Gusmao, whose country is among the world's ten poorest. They must stand up for human rights and against corruption. It was important that the rich countries understood the problems of the poor.

On relations with the former occupying power Indonesia, Gusmao said they were "very good".

"There are still problems, but we've got good chances of strengthening our relations."

The problems were above all of a psychological nature. Feelings caused by the past between the two states were still a factor which separated them.

Gusmao said his government was not satisfied with the mild verdicts in Indonesian courts on Indonesian officers co-responsible for the 1999 massacres.

But East Timor had its own problems with its militias, who had gone to ground in the Indonesian western half of the island and were not willing to face court.

However, setting up an international tribunal was no great priority. Far more, the immediate need was to combat hunger and diseases, and build up the educational system and institutions, said Gusmao.

In a U.N.-organized referendum in August 1999, the East Timorese voted for independence for the former Portuguese colony, which had been occupied by Indonesia since 1975.

The immediate reaction was a campaign of murder by the occupation army and its terror militias. This was only ended by a multinational intervention force under Australian leadership.

After the withdrawal of the Indonesian troops, East Timor came under United Nations administration until its independence. Gusmao, who spent years in Indonesian prisons, is revered as "East Timor's Nelson Mandela".

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