Subject: IO: Editorial- Release Xanana
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 09:18:03 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Indonesian Observer

23rd March 1999 Prespective The pursuit of freedom

To push progress on Indonesia’s proposal for wide-ranging autonomy with regard to East Timor, we would like to suggest that the government think big and set free Mr. Xanana Gusmao, rather than keep him under house arrest.

Ever since he was been kept under detention, Mr. Gusmao has become some sort of a celebrity. In the beginning when he was confined to Cipinang penitentiary, he was visited by members of parliament from mostly West European countries, along with statesmen from other countries.

Later when Indonesian authorities realized that he has been raised in stature to that of a VIP, they felt he should be in a position to receive his guests in accordance with his elevated status. Perhaps reputation-wise, it was deemed better to provide Gusmao with a house not far removed from the prison grounds, and to change his status ‘detention’ to ‘house arrest’.

Since he was moved into his residence, no less than U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has paid him a visit and Gusmao, gallant as ever, did not forget to present her with a hand-woven East Timor shawl.

Mr. Alexander Downer, Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia, the country which is quite active in helping to find a solution to the East Timor question, has also visited the Fretilin leader in his new home.

Prior to the proposal for a direct ballot on the proposal for wide ranging autonomy for the East Timorese, perhaps a report should be prepared before the next meeting in mid April between Indonesia and Portuguese officials at the UN. It would help to clarify matters if Gusmao were declared free.

Although he may be able to bring an important contribution to the solution of the problem, he could only do so if he is able to move freely and not be restricted in his activities as he is at present.

Through his long association with Indonesians, he could perhaps understand us better than Mr. Ramos Horta whose main activities have been to portray a destructive picture of Indonesia.

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