Subject: E Timor Min Says Indonesia Deserves Security Council Seat [2 reports]

E Timor Min Says Indonesia Deserves Security Council Seat

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 29 (AP)--Indonesia should have a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council - so says a voice from a surprising quarter: the small country of East Timor that endured a quarter century of Indonesian repression.

East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his efforts to free the territory from Indonesia, said his country believes the expanded council also should include Germany, India, Japan, Brazil and one or two African countries.

"We particularly support permanent membership status for Indonesia because we believe in the need for balanced representation within the Security Council which will encompass all the world's major civilizations and faiths," he told the U.N. General Assembly's annual meeting of national leaders on Wednesday.

"Non-inclusion of Indonesia, the largest secular Muslim country in the world, as a new permanent member would again leave the Security Council with a predominantly Christian representation," Ramos Horta said.

Indonesia has a population of about 210 million people. East Timor has a largely Roman Catholic population of about 925,000.

The 15-member council currently has five permanent members -Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -and 10 members serving two-year terms and representing all the regions of the world.

Ramos-Horta, one of the few speakers to try a little humor from the podium, reassured the assembly that his tiny, half-island country is not seeking a permanent council seat but has already garnered support for a temporary seat - in the year 2049.

Indonesia invaded and occupied the Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1975. The United Nations recognized the East Timorese desire for self-determination, but a U.N.-run referendeum on independence took place only in 1999.

Militias linked to the Indonesian armed forces attacked civilians in an effort to thwart the vote. When the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to separate from Indonesia, the attacks escalated and at least 1,500 people were killed. Australian troops led the military intervention to stop the bloodshed.

The United Nations administered East Timor until 2002, when it gained full independence and became a U.N. member.

Human rights groups have called for an international tribunal to investigate the violence surrounding East Timor's independence, noting that Indonesian courts have acquitted all 16 police and military officers charged over the violence.

But East Timor opposes such a tribunal, Ramos-Horta told journalists at a press conference following his speech, reaffirming his country's position that good relations with the neighboring giant are necessary.

"We don't believe that an international tribunal would be in Timor's national interest or would actually be the only way to serve justice," he said, adding that his country awaits an initiative by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan which may include a review of work by the ad hoc tribunal for serious crimes in East Timor.

Asked if he believed the ad hoc tribunal had delivered justice, he replied: "No. Definitely not. And most Indonesians also would not suggest that the ad hoc tribunal in Jakarta actually was credible."

In his speech, Ramos-Horta congratulated the Indonesian people and their leaders on building "a vibrant democracy" in the few years since the violence over East Timor and the resignation, in 1998, of longtime dictator Suharto.

Ramos-Horta was one of very few world leaders who spoke positively of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, saying that the United States "gallantly freed the Iraqi people from a tyrant" and that other countries should now help "shoulder the burden of Iraq."

Support ETAN, make a secure financial contribution at

Back to October menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu