Subject: RA: Interview with militia leader Basilio Araujo
Date: Sat, 06 Mar 1999 08:43:10 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

Interview with pro-integration leader Araujo

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts March 3, 1999, Wednesday Source: Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 1 Mar 99

*Pro-integration leader Araujo interviewed on prospects for settlement

A spokesperson for pro-integration militias in East Timor says the United Nations should oversee the disarmament of all armed groups in the territory as soon as possible. Basilio Araujo represents the Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice, the political wing of paramilitary groups that want East Timor to remain part of Indonesia. By phone from Dili, he told me that disputes over the territory's future should be resolved through dialogue amongst East Timorese leaders and not through a referendum, because most people do not know about or care about politics. Mr Araujo also defended the paramilitaries 'threats against Australian aid workers, diplomats and journalists.

[Araujo] The diplomats, Australian diplomats, or Australian journalists have created a wrong picture of the reality in East Timor. They come to East Timor, they only meet with anti-integration leaders. So when they return to Jakarta they will give the information to Australia as if the whole East Timorese are like the anti-integration people, while in fact we have the majority of people who actually do not know anything about politics, who actually do not care about politics. Sixty per cent are illiterate, so how can one claim that the majority of the East Timorese people want for an independence, or for an integration, or for whatever?

[Q] Why threaten Australian diplomats and journalists, however? I mean surely, how does that advance the cause?

[A] It is because of the misinformation that they have given to their own government, because it is because of that information that now the Australian government is changing its position.

[Q] But the Australian government has said time and again that it would prefer East Timor to remain part of Indonesia, it would prefer the autonomy model, but it says the East Timorese people have to decide.

[A] It is about this position that we say that Australia is ambivalent. We spoke to the Australian ambassador in Jakarta, John McCarthy, and he explained [to] us four points. The first point is saying that Australia still recognizes Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor -that is fine, that is very good. The second point, Australia is trying to say that they support the UN talks - that's very good. But the third point, Australia is trying to suggest that East Timor should have direct talks with Indonesia -if this is the way, then Australia doesn't understand what is going on at the UN level, because at the UN level Portugal is talking with Indonesia and not East Timorese people talking directly with Jakarta. And the fourth point, Australia is trying to show as if they are supporting a referendum for East Timor, which they call a mechanism review.

[Q] But why shouldn't there be an attempt to assess public opinion in East Timor? Why shouldn't there be an attempt to find out what the majority of East Timorese want?

[A] What (?would be proposed) in a referendum?

[Q] For example?

[A] Going back to the problem of referendum, it is not because we reject a referendum. It is because Fretilin was the one who rejected a referendum in 1975. Fretilin proclaimed independence without going through a referendum. Why should now Fretilin force the pro-integrationists to have a referendum? We have other ways to solve the problem of East Timor, which can be through dialogue. Why should we force a referendum, which we know, that referendum may not promise peace?

[Q] But it is the paramilitary organizations at the moment, the pro-integration paramilitary organizations that are making the threats. Fretilin has said it will lay down its arms under a UN-supervised cease-fire. Why are the paramilitary organizations now threatening violence?

[A] It depends on what side you see. If you see on my side, if you stand by my side and see how people, 30 people, came to my house with samurai [presumably swords] trying to find me, to kill me. And then you will see it in a different way.

[Q] Given the incidents you describe, though, isn't the best thing to have a UN-supervised cease-fire and disarmament of all factions?

[A] That is what I expect, and we hope that Australia will support this.

[Q] So you would like to see a UN-supervised cease-fire of all factions?

[A] As quickly as possible.

[Q] Including the paramilitaries?

[A] Yes, and the commander of the paramilitary [groups] has already made his statement yesterday, on national television, that he is not starting a civil war in East Timor. What he expects is peace in East Timor, but he hopes that Xanana [Gusmao] would understand that and Xanana would come to East Timor as soon as possible, sit with him, smile with him, embrace him and have a peaceful talk, and all of them will lay down their weapons.

[Q] But the leader of the paramilitary groups has also said he will start a civil war if East Timor becomes independent.

[A] Yes, because what the pro-independence groups are saying now [is] as if the whole East Timorese people want independence. And then these paramilitary groups all just want to show that that is not true. We still exist and some [parts of the] population also still want to become part of Indonesia.

[Q] But if there is a UN-supervised cease-fire followed by a mechanism for establishing the will of the East Timorese people under UN supervision and if the people of East Timor opt for independence, will the paramilitary groups accept that?

[A] I think they will accept it, but what they reject is just a referendum. And we hope that the UN is not going to force a referendum.

[Q] Some other form of assessing the will of the East Timorese people would be acceptable?

[A] We can solve the problem through dialogue, because the problem of East Timor is not only a political problem, but it is a conflict. So what we need here is not only a political resolution, but also a conflict resolution. And to solve the conflict can only be through dialogue.

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