|Subject: ABC interview w/Ramos-Horta as Timor
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 09:26:28 -0400
Australian Broadcasting Corporation The World Today Monday, September 20, 1999 12:48 p.m.
Horta thanks Australia for leadership on East Timor
COMPERE: Well, as Operation Stabilise starts to take control of Dili today, the Nobel Peace Laureate, Jose Ramos-Horta, says Australian leadership over East Timor has already earned the gratitude of the Timorese people, and particularly activists like himself. Mr Ramos-Horta, like so many East Timorese, was given sanctuary by Australia following the Indonesian invasion of his homeland twenty-four years ago. His mother and sister live in Sydney.
But, the man who's likely to stay on as Foreign Minister in a government of exile has been speaking to our North America correspondent, Michael Carey.
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: My message is to the Australian people, to the Australian contingent, but also to the members of the multinational force in general; a message of sincere deep gratitude to everyone for their courage, for the intervention in East Timor. They must bear in mind at all times that this is not a war of aggression waged by a multinational force. This is a mission, a moral mission, a moral duty by the international community as a whole. It is the international community as a whole that is trusting the multinational force, the Australians, in saving a small nation that is being threatened with destruction and extinction.
MICHAEL CAREY: What sort of environment are the Australian contingent and the multinational force going to be going into? What's the picture that you're getting from people you're talking to?
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: Australians should know that the overwhelming majority of the people of East Timor will welcome them, will applaud them, as it happened during World War II. There might be few renegades but these renegades, the only experience, the only courage they have had, as we all know in the last few weeks, have been to burn villages, to kill innocent women and children, to rape nuns, to kill East Timorese Catholic priests. They do not have the fighting spirit discipline to confront a conventional well-trained army.
MICHAEL CAREY: Could they still run a guerilla war for years to come though, say from sanctuary in West Timor?
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: The Indonesian authorities will be held responsible if they foment, if they allow their territory to be used in a war of aggression against another country.
MICHAEL CAREY: You must have profoundly mixed feelings at the moment. You've got finally an independent, East Timor is about to become a reality, but it's being born in scorched earth.
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: My feeling is, I talked to the Secretary-General, told the United Nations the other day, towards Indonesia is like the Jews soon after the Holocaust towards Nazi Germany or like the Kuwaitis towards Iraq. Indonesia, the state as a whole, the country, the Republic of Indonesia as a whole, is responsible for the orchestration of the genocide and war crimes and destruction of East Timor.
The Indonesian Government, its armed forces must be held accountable, responsible for the genocide, for war crimes, for the destruction of East Timor. With the same courage and creativity with which we fought for 23 years, we are going to rebuild the country from ashes like the Jews did, like Europe did, and like people in Asia did after World War II, to make a new country for those who survive this war.
MICHAEL CAREY: But, East Timor is a very poor country. It's hit by drought regularly, it's limited in its natural resources. What is the future for East Timor that you see?
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA: Well, what is alternative, Indonesia? Look at how Indonesia has done to their own country, bankrupted their own country, mismanaged their own country. I guess we can take lessons from everybody in terms of how to manage the country, but one country we don't need to take lessons from is Indonesia. Normally a colonial power, an imperial power is impressive. If you went to London in the Fifties, people would be impressed with what they see. If you go to France in the Fifties, you were impressed. I was in Indonesia recently and, as I look around, the extreme poverty of the country, the total bankruptcy of the country, and I ask myself: is this our colonial power? Is this a country that's trying to civilise us? - quote, unquote. No. East Timor might have difficulties in the future. It's poor but it will be a million times better off alone than with Indonesia.
COMPERE: Jose Ramos-Horta speaking with Michael Carey.
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