Subject: AFP: Gusmao says free East Timor will not be base for Indonesian separatists
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:19:44 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Gusmao says free East Timor will not be base for Indonesian separatists

JAKARTA, Aug 10 (AFP) - Jailed East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao has reassured Indonesia that a free and independent East Timor would not become a base for growing separatist movements in the Indonesian archipelago.

Gusmao, in an interview Monday at his prison house in Jakarta, said his National Council for East Timorese Resistance (CNRT) made the pledge to Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto at a meeting last month.

"The CNRT including myself met with Wiranto and (told him) if we win the ballot we will have a very friendly relationship with Indonesia.

"We will respect the sovereignty and integrity of the republic of Indonesia, and not be a base for any separatists," he told AFP.

They also pledged that "the families of Indonesian soldiers who died in the war will get all facilties to visit the graves in East Timor.

"The past would be forgotten, but of course TNI (the Indonesian armed forces) has to prove its sincerity in respecting the outcome of the ballot," Gusmao said.

East Timorese did not want any more war with their powerful "neighbour" Indonesia, he added.

The CNRT leader, who was condemned to death by Jakarta in 1992 for armed insurrection and then had his sentence commuted for 20 years, was speaking three weeks ahead of a UN-organized ballot on self-determination in East Timor.

He said he felt confident East Timorese, who have been fighting the Indonesian armed forces since they invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, will vote overwhelmingly for independence on August 30.

They have been fighting for 23 years to be able to "live in our own home" and there is no reason to stop now, if the UN-organized ballot is free, he said.

But Gusmao concedes the ballot is a huge risk.

He accused the Indonesian military of shipping "hundreds of weapons" into East Timor and stashing them in every district at a time when they are trying to persuade the Falintil, the armed wing of the CNRT, to disarm ahead of the ballot.

There was also the deep "blood" distrust between the CNRT and the Indonesian military and the intimidation of people by the Indonesian army-backed militia.

A purported pro-Indonesian militia document, leaked last week, which detailed plans to make it look as if East Timorese were fighting one another, might be authentic, Gusmao said.

It could be either a "warning" to CNRT to disarm, or the age-old tactic of using the militia to "save face" and charge that East Timorese were too divided to be able to live on their own.

Gusmao said the Indonesian military has 12,000 men in East Timor, and under rules agreed on in May by Indonesia and Portugal, the Indonesian police, not the UN Mission in East Timor, is responsible for security before, during and after the vote.

He said he was worried about elements of the military stirring up conflict in the period after the vote and before the result was ratified by Indonesia.

But, sitting in the small front room of his prison house where he will be on ballot day, looking onto the high white back wall of Jakarta's Salemba prison, Gusmao said the vote was a risk that had to be taken.

"It is very risky, but it is our unique opportunity to prove to ourselves that we can face and overcome the risk (as we have) for 23 years," he said.

Indonesian President B.J. Habibie proposed the vote in January, three years after world sympathy was aroused by the award of the 1996 Nobel peace prize to Gusmao's ally, exiled East Timorese independence crusader Jose Ramos Horta, and Dili's Bishop Carlos Ximenes Felipe Belo.

"We know that the International community is aware of the problem (of possible militia attempts to sabotage of the vote). We have received many signals of support, and we know that it is very difficult to get optimal conditions in this process.

"There is a seriousness from the government, from Habibie ... but the problem is in the Kopassus (Indonesian special forces) and the TNI," Gusmao said. "They are arguing that the process would be a bad precedent for Aceh, for Irian Jaya.

"We have had to accept the risk ... when we see and feel and receive the support of the international community, we are ready, not just to solve but to put an end to the injustice."

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