Subject: Statement of Irish/ South African Delegation to East Timor
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 14:18:33 +0000
From: "East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign" <> Organization: ETISC

25th August 1999

A Joint South African - Irish delegation visited East Timor from 19 to 24 August 1999. This delegation was invited to go to East Timor by the East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign. The delegation was invited from South Africa and Ireland in view of their countries' involvement in processes of peace, democratization, and national reconciliation. The delegation from Ireland was from the North and the South and was Catholic and Protestant, whilst the delegation from South Africa was Black and White. The delegation consisted of Fr. Michael Lapsley, SSM - Director of the Institute for Healing of Memories and veteran of South Africa's Liberation struggle; Mr. Johann Magerman - Human Rights activist, working with refugees in SA; Dr. Robert McVeigh from Belfast - University lecturer who has written extensively on racism and religious conflict; Mr. Joe Murray - Director of Action From Ireland (AFRI), the Dublin based Justice, Peace and Human Rights organization. The individuals in the delegation were invited because of their background in human rights, international solidarity and peace building.

While in East Timor, the delegation met with representatives of different sides of the conflict. It also met with the United Nations Assistance Mission for East Timor (UNAMET), the Independent Electoral Commission; international observers, including the International Federation for East Timor (IFET); and the Indonesian based Independent Committee for an Independent Ballot (KIPER). The delegation was based in Dili but traveled to other centres such as Ermera, Liquica, Manatutu, and Baucua. On its return to Jakarta, the delegation met with Mr. Xanana Gusmao, who remains under house arrest and prevented from exercising leadership of his people at this critical moment. Our visit to East Timor convinced us that Mr. Xanana Gusmao enjoys and unparalleled moral stature among the people in East Timor, comparable to that of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

In the light of our visit to East Timor and Jakarta, we have reached the following conclusions:

1. We recognize the extraordinary courage of East timorese people and the great suffering that they have endured on the way to this historic moment.

2. We congratulate the Indonesian people for their achievements on the road to democratization and the respect for human rights.

3. We are impressed by the large numbers of people who have registered to vote in spite of widespread intimidation. We commend the courage of the East Timorese people. We commend UNAMET for its role in the registration process and preparation for the ballot.

4. We see the holding of the national consultative process in East Timor as of utmost significance with a potential for permanently resolving the conflict in East Timor. We recognize that this could not have happened without the agreement of Indonesian government.

5. However, we believe that the presence of the Indonesian military in East Timor and its backing of the militias are the greatest obstacles to the holding of a free and fair ballot.

Therefore we call for:

1. The immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Xanana Gusmao and all other East Timorese political prisoners.

2. The immediate withdrawal of all Indonesian mi8litary forces in East Timor

3. Dialogue between the Falintil and the PPI forces, in the interest of national reconciliation, with a view to the cessation of violence.

4. A new UN mandate to allow for the immediate deployment of a peacekeeping force from non-aligned countries.

We commend Nelson Mandela and the government of South Africa for their positive intervention, which contributed to the present process. We call upon the government of South Africa to continue to use its influence towards a speedy resolution to the conflict. We believe the South African government should play a leading role in the deployment of a non-aligned UN peacekeeping force in East Timor.

We commend the Irish government for the unique role they have played in support of peace and democracy in East timor. We welcome the presence of the Foreign Minister, Mr. David Andrews, who will represent the European Union at the forthcoming ballot. We believe that Ireland too, given its long experience of UN peacekeeping activities around the world, should be a part of a peacekeeping mission in East Timor.

We believe that both South Africa and Ireland have a moral responsibility to play a leading role in reconstruction and reconciliation in the post-ballot period in East Timor.

In conclusion, we believe that East Timor is on the threshold wither of a new beginning or could descent once more into the depths of destructive violence. It is incumbent on all the parties to the conflict and on the international community to ensure that the hopes and dreams rather than the nightmares of the East timorese people are realized.

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