Subject: Engage Mahatma Ghandi's Style To Fight Israel - Ramos-Horta


Timor president opposes international sanctions on Myanmar

January 11, 2009 17:09 PM

Engage Mahatma Ghandi's Style To Fight Israel - Ramos-Horta

By D. Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Jan 11 (Bernama) -- "Stop fighting violence with violence and engage Mahatma Gandhi's civil disobedience-style. You can paralyse the entire economy of Israel, and even get sympathy among Israeli people and millions around the world."

Timor Leste president and independence fighter Jose Ramos-Horta made this impassioned plea to the Palestinian people.

The 1996 Nobel Laureate for Peace said that after more than 50 years, Palestinians were still fighting for their own country because there was no calibre and peace-advocate freedom fighters like India's Gandhi or South Africa's Nelson Mandela emerging among them.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondent Club here as part of the International Peace Foundation's 'Bridges' series, Ramos-Horta said Hamas could not aspire to lead the state and the same time, continue with its basic instint of fighting violence with violence against a powerful enemy like Israel.

"If we in Timor Leste had engaged in discriminative violence against any seen enemy, including the Indonesian civil servants and the ordinary people, we wouldn't be free today,' said the former foreign minister, former prime minister and currently, president of the youngest independent country in the world.

Ramos-Horta, who founded the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor and served as the exiled spokesman for the East Timorese resistance to the Indonesian Government from 1975-1999, also cited experiences in several African countries which fought for independence or the Afro-Americans who did not engage in extremism in recent years to fight for their cause.

On the ongoing Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip that has so far, killed more than 800 civilians, he said, while it served Israel's interest to use force against Hamas, he did not agree with labelling Hamas as a terrorist group as they had mass support and even won the election sanctioned by the United Nations and the United States.

On Myanmar, Ramos-Horta said he was against sanction against the country and reiterated that any solution should take into account the status of the powerful military.

"A road map should have clear calendar and several steps towards the final outcome. But the privilege for military must remain as in Indonesia and elected government can survive without the backing of the military," he added.

Ramos-Horta, who survived an assasination attempt in February last year, also spoke about the progress made by his country, saying that it was having a 10 per cent growth but the oil revenue was expected to fall this year.

"We have programmes for the poor, where more than 70,000 handicapped, pensioners and widows are receiving US$20 a month, as well as government programmes of buying crops which generate local economy while peace and stability has returned," he said.

Among the challenges faced are human smuggling where foreigners from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka are using the country as a transit point to go to Australia and New Zealand, while illegal fishing abounded in its territory.




East Timor president opposes international sanctions on Myanmar

Asia-Pacific News

Jan 11, 2009, 6:48 GMT

Bangkok - The US and European Union should review their policy of imposing economic sanctions on Myanmar as the country's pariah military regime is key to the future stability of any elected government, East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said Sunday.

'If we aren't pragmatic about it there will be no solution (in Myanmar) in the immediate term or long term,' said Horta, who was in Bangkok over the weekend at the invitation of the International Peace Foundation.

Horta, the 1996 Nobel peace laureate, reiterated his controversial stance against economic sanctions on Myanmar and Cuba, which he had made known at the United Nations and other forums.

'We cannot further punish a collectivity of people because of the perceived sins of their leaders,' said Horta.

The US has imposed economic sanctions against Myanmar's ruling junta since its bloody crackdown on a pro-democracy movement in 1988 that left up to 3,000 dead.

Multilateral aid lenders, such as the World Bank, IMF and Asia Development Bank, ceased all loans to the country since 1988 and the European Union has imposed restrictions on aid and the granting of visas to Myanmar military leaders.

Horta last visited Myanmar in 2005 and has lent his support to his fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. He said Sunday that Myanmar's long-delayed democratization process would require the participation of the military, which has ruled the country since 1962.

'You look at the transition in Thailand, the transition in the Philippines and Indonesia,' he said. 'The military have remained part of society, part of the state and party of the country.'

'If you have a road map which at the end the Burmese military see their interests have been preserved, they might find some incentive,' he added.

That is exactly what Myanmar's military-drafted constitution guarantees. The charter was pushed through in May, after a dubious plebiscite called despite Cyclone Nargis, which devastated much of the Irrawaddy Delta and left millions homeless and without aid.

The new charter guarantees a dominant role for the military through an appointed Senate that will have the right to block legislation. An election is scheduled for 2010.

'Assuming the military cedes power, no elected civilian leader in Myanmar can survive without the full support of the military,' said Horta, a well-known independence hero in his own country.

Horta, who was foreign minister when Indonesia military invaded and annexed East Timor in 1975, spent 24 years in exile struggling for Timor independence and accusing Indonesia's military of human rights atrocities.

A plebiscite calling for independence in 1999 led to a bloody crackdown by Indonesian soldiers that killed hundreds and left the country in ruins, prompting international intervention by United Nations peacekeeping forces.

East Timor, also called Timor Leste, finally gained its sovereignty in May 2002.

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