|Subject: SCMP: E. Timor's 'voice of independence'
faces greatest challenge
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 09:01:45 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
also: 'Global pressure forces Jakarta to bend on visa'; and 'Gusmao, Ramos Horta joining talks'
South China Morning Post Saturday, June 26, 1999
'Voice of independence' finally faces greatest challenge
Photo: Now and then: Jose Ramos Horta today and in 1976.
Every international cause needs someone like Jose Ramos Horta - a man who is prepared to talk day and night, anywhere in the world, to anyone, about the cause he holds dear.
Love him or loathe him, he has been the dominant voice for East Timorese independence, making a full-time career out of denouncing the invasion and annexation of his homeland by Indonesia.
Forums he has used include the United Nations Security Council, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the European Parliament.
For Mr Ramos Horta, this dedication has earned him a Nobel peace prize, shared with Bishop Carlos Belo, in 1996, and a lifestyle involving "homes" in Sydney, Lisbon and New York which he rarely sees. A son and former wife live in Mozambique.
It has also earned him the intense dislike of the Indonesian authorities - which he not only takes as a compliment but which he uses to support his exile, if not martyr, status.
Along the way, Mr Ramos Horta has joined that growing crowd of international advocates for human rights, self-determination, democracy, the environment and much more.
"I have been travelling for 23 years, back and forth," he said in February. "I have been dealing with the East Timorese issue, but I have many other interests.
"I have dealt with many other situations, with mediating a hostage situation in Colombia a few months ago, and recently I was invited to Iraq but I refused. This is only to say I have been dealing with dictators' regimes in many places."
Mr Ramos Horta was born in 1949 in Dili, of a Timorese mother and a Portuguese father. Of his 11 siblings, four were killed by the Indonesian military.
Following a family tradition, he was first banned from his homeland in 1970 and sent to Mozambique for allegations against the Portuguese regime.
After a stint as a journalist back in East Timor, he was mandated by the pro-independence parties to represent East Timor abroad. He left the island three days before the Indonesian troops invaded, arriving in New York in December 1975 to address the UN Security Council.
He was permanent representative of the pro-independence Fretilin to the UN for 10 years, and the personal representative-at-large of detained resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.
He has nurtured a worldwide network of sympathisers, fund-givers and diplomats for the East Timorese independence cause. Now he faces perhaps his biggest challenge - applying his passion to the very different environment of Indonesia.
South China Morning Post Saturday, June 26, 1999
Global pressure forces Jakarta to bend on visa
The planned arrival of Mr Ramos Horta in Jakarta today shows the extent of international pressure on Jakarta to satisfactorily resolve the problem of East Timor.
Indonesia has long held off granting Mr Ramos Horta the visa he needs to land in either Jakarta or East Timor, and pro-Indonesia groups in East Timor have recently fought hard against the right of any exiled Timorese to go home before the planned UN ballot on autonomy in August.
"The Indonesian Government will not give a visa to Ramos Horta," Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas told journalists before a cabinet meeting little over a week ago.
"If he tries to come in, he must take full responsibility for the consequences".
"Oh, definitely I will return," Mr Ramos Horta said earlier this year. "[Detained guerilla leader] Xanana [Gusmao] wants me to go down to Jakarta whenever possible. I'm under his orders. If he wants me to come to Jakarta, I'll come.
"If the Indonesians do allow me to go to Jakarta, then it would be highly symbolic because many people, including Xanana, say that they hate me more than they hate Xanana. I can understand the sentiment.
"But if I did go it would be with humility, with only one thing in mind, that is really trying, with Xanana, to engage them [the Indonesian Government] in serious dialogue, to find an honourable exit for Indonesia."
Indonesian officials have claimed the UN agreement on East Timor's transition, signed in New York in May, did not provide for exiles to be so active.
But Western diplomats have argued publicly for the right of Mr Ramos Horta and any other exile not only to visit East Timor and Indonesia, but also to campaign ahead of the ballot.
Now that Indonesia has consented to Mr Ramos Horta's presence in the capital, officials are trying to assert some face-saving element of control over a man who has spent his life in virulent denunciation of Jakarta.
"We have given him a visa, but on one condition," an Indonesian consular official said. "He must not campaign."
Asked how campaigning could be defined, in the case of someone as vocal as Mr Ramos Horta, the official smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
Saturday, June 26, 1999
Gusmao, Ramos Horta joining talks
Photo: A little fan-fare: an East Timorese youngster waves shyly as the helicopter bearing the United Nations Secretary-General's special representative for East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, lifts the diplomat away from the town of Liquisa, west of the capital, Dili, yesterday. Reuters photo
Church-led reconciliation discussions began in Jakarta yesterday between representatives of pro-Indonesian and pro-independence East Timorese. Barring a last-minute hitch, exiled independence spokesman Jose Ramos Horta will arrive from Singapore today to join the talks.
He will be stepping on to Indonesian soil for the first time since December 1975 to be united with his resistance comrade Xanana Gusmao.
Yesterday's talks began after a two-hour delay caused by late approval for the attendance of Gusmao, who is under house arrest following his release from a 20-year jail term for treason.
Called Dare II, the talks, at a hotel near Jakarta's Sukarno-Hatta airport, are led by East Timorese bishops Carlos Belo and Basilio do Nascimento who, along with 24 East Timor politicians, arrived in Jakarta two days ago.
The goal of the talks is peaceful reconciliation between East Timorese factions which have been fighting each other for decades.
Supporters and opponents of independence for East Timor wound up the first of six days of talks yesterday by agreeing on the need for reconciliation between them for the future.
"In the concluding plenary session, both sides reached basic agreement on the necessity and definition of reconciliation," the spokesman of the steering committee for the church-organised talks, Father Domingos Sequeira, said.
The talks come less than two months ahead of a planned UN-supervised ballot in which East Timorese can vote on a Jakarta-backed scheme for comprehensive autonomy. Independence has been promised if the proposal is rejected.
The Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, as well as granting Mr Ramos Horta a visa, also allowed in Mari Alkatiri, another exiled pro-independence leader, and three other prominent exiles.
Gusmao's lawyer, Johnson Panjaitan, said as the talks began that Gusmao "is optimistic; he believes this meeting is interesting".
The first two days of the two-stage talks involve people from East Timor, while the second, four-day stint, will begin tomorrow with participants from abroad.
Supporting Gusmao, head of the National Resistance Council of East Timor, the umbrella organisation of the East Timorese pro-independence movement, are two of its leaders, David Ximenes and Leandro Isaac.
The pro-Indonesia faction is represented by the head of the Front for Peace, Freedom and Democracy, Domingos Soares, its spokesman Basilio Araujo, Fransisco Xavier Lopez da Cruz, who chairs the Front of the People of East Timor, and parliamentarian Armindo Soares Mariano.
Among topics for discussion will be a code of conduct for the poll, reconciliation and the kind of future envisaged by the East Timorese.