Subject: DN: Timor must chose between reconciliation and justice, says former militia leader

Timor must chose between reconciliation and justice, says former militia leader

May 16, 2004 3:40pm Asia Intelligence Wire

Text of an Interview by Jordao Henrique in Kupang, Indonesia, with former leader of pro-integration Aitarak militia, Eurico Guterres, "Timorese cabinet has pro-integration elements", published in Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias web site on 16 May:

[Henrique] What is the condition of the pro-integration [with Indonesia] Timorese?

[Guterres] We live in Indonesia as Timorese people. When we left [Timor] we were called thieves and murderers. We were called cowards, and that that was the reason why we left Timor. I can tell you, I left Timor, not because of fear, but as a result of a political demand. Yet, we still do not understand how we were defeated. I left in order to avoid blood shedding, to avoid civil war.

[Henrique] Do you think that the court decision that sentenced you to ten years in prison was fair?

[Guterres] For me it was not fair. I do not know what my crime was, but I am waiting for justice. It will be a political decision. What I know is that they also committed crimes, including [president and former resistance leader] Xanana [Gusmao], and his collaborators.

[Henrique] So, you disagree with it... [newspaper ellipsis]

[Guterres] Of course! Because the 1999 episode [militia-led violence that followed a pro-independence referendum vote] was not the first. There was also, for example, the violent period of 1959-1975. The "malae mutin" [Timorese term for white Europeans], I mean, the Portuguese - who had ruled for 450 years - use to massacre civilians. The whole world knows that, in 1975, Fretilin [Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor] killed people in Alieu, Remexio and Same.

[Henrique] And what will happen if you are sent to prison?

[Guterres] If one day I am sent to prison, that will be a political consequence. If we want to achieve reconciliation, we must halt justice.

[Henrique] What do you suggest to resolve the dispute over the 1975-99 period?

[Guterres] In my opinion we should place our trust in something else than just the courts. We must sit down and summon up the courage to explain how things happened. This is totally dependent on Xanana Gusmao, as president, and on his group. For me, he has double standards. On the one hand he desires reconciliation, but on the other he wants justice.

[Henrique] Do you mean that the president is not yet clearly showing good will?

[Guterres] His problem is that his position is neither firm nor clear. He has the will power, but at the moment he is still dependent on the "malaes" [foreigners] in Timor. He is always on their side.

[Henrique] What is your opinion of President Xanana's reconciliation model?

[Guterres] I think his reconciliation model is the model of South Africa applied in East Timor. The conflict in Timor is different, it is of political nature.

[Henrique] You have mentioned a lack of sincerity.

[Guterres] As yet, we have seen no sincerity; because those who called for the integration in Indonesia are now ruling Timor. When they realized that independence was going to happen, they united themselves to Xanana.

[Henrique] What do you wish for Timor in the future?

[Guterres] Peace, so that the people may unite. We all wish independence to be better than integration.

[Henrique] What do you make of reports about the infiltration of militias in East Timor. Are they genuine?

[Guterres] They are political propaganda; because they know that my group and I are still in Indonesia, so they try to blame us. I declare, solemnly, that my group and I do not want any more conflicts. If I wished to pursue those actions... [newspaper ellipsis, changes thought] at this moment we are still at war, because I continue to have many followers since 1999.

[Henrique] Is it true that militias are preparing to enter East Timor upon the departure of the United Nations?

[Guterres] I do not believe that is true. I am known in Timor, and the whole world knows that Eurico Guterres is the commander of the militias, and also that I am currently pursuing my studies. We have an organization whose slogan is "Forget the past, look to the future".

[Henrique] What is your opinion of [former Indonesia military commander] Wiranto's presidential run?

[Guterres] That is an Indonesian affair. I think we are interfering. The Indonesians have never made any comments about Xanana, who was a war murderer.

[Henrique] What are the conditions of refugees?

[Guterres] They are faring well, except the lazy ones who do not want to do any work.

[Henrique] Are you planning to return to Timor?

[Guterres] Naturally I have to return. Presently, that is not part of my immediate plans, because they think I am an ignorant; secondly, it is impossible for me to go back because there are many Timorese people in Indonesia. When they decide to return, I will go back with them, whatever the consequences. Finally, I will not be coming over because I am pursuing my studies in economics and management.

[Henrique] Do you have any message for Timor, whose independence will be commemorated on 20 May?

[Guterres] As a Timorese, I am proud. My pride has also to do with the fact that some of my colleagues are now ministers.

Source: Diario de Noticias web site, Lisbon, in Portuguese 16 May 04

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