Subject: AFP: Gusmao says he cannot let E. Timorese be slaughtered
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:46:45 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

Gusmao says he cannot let East Timorese be slaughtered

JAKARTA, April 14 (AFP) - Jailed East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao on Wednesday appealed for peace and dialogue in his homeland but said he could not let his people continue to be slaughtered like cattle.

"I renew my appeal for peace, dialogue and reconciliation," Gusmao said in a statement read by his lawyer Hendardi at a press conference here.

But he added: "I am obliged to continue to ask that the defenceless people of East Timor refuse to allow themselves to be slaughtered like animals, although I know that no one will stop the murderous bullets."

Indonesian Justice Minister Muladi on Monday threatened to move Gusmao out of his de-facto house arrest if he did not personally retract a call made last week for East Timorese to take up arms to defend themselves.

Replying to the untimatum, Hendardi said: "To return Xanana to prison would be a wrong decision, which should be suspected as part of a violent conspiracy to sabotage the peaceful solution process in East Timor.

"In the context of a peaceful solution, it is essential and necessary that the Indonesian government stays by its decision to place our client Xanana Gusmao in the special house penitentiary in Salemba," Hendardi said.

In his statement, the rebel leader, who is serving a 20 year jail term for armed insurrection, said he appealed to the Indonesian armed forces "to adopt a position of policial maturity, of greater openness and humanity as the world demands it."

He also paid tribute to President B.J. Habibie, who in January proposed independence for East Timor if it rejects autonomy under Indonesia.

Reconciliation talks, some of which he had taken part in before March 31, Gusmao said, had been followed on the Indonesian side by the formation of a 2,000-strong militia in East Timor.

"To talk about reconciliation while the population is under threat and mourns its dead would be inhumane," he said.

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