Subject: Transcript: Belo:"Ethnic cleansing will empty E.Timor if no aid comes"
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 17:18:13 EDT

ABC Transcript 7:30 PM News with Kerry O'Broen 8/09/99

Ethnic cleansing will empty East Timor if no aid comes: Belo

KERRY O'BRIEN: First, Bishop Belo, an important voice of moral authority in East Timor.

He arrived in Darwin exhausted yesterday after being persuaded that his life was at serious risk if he stayed.

I spoke with him less than an hour ago from the Bishop's residence in Darwin.

Bishop Belo, thank you for making the effort.

I know you must be exhausted.

Can you describe for me the way events have unfolded for you over the past few days in East Timor after the result of the ballot became known?

BISHOP CARLOS BELO, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: Well, after the ballot, the pro-Indonesian militias, they immediately reacted against the results and they organised to attack the pro-activists, burned down the houses and pressed the people to leave to West Timor.

This is the situation.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What was it that forced you to Dili to Baucau?

BISHOP BELO: Well, as you know, I have received more than 4,000 people in my house.

And on Monday when they attacked my house, I left for the police headquarters near the airport and the police asked me what am I going to do -- stay or rest?

I told him, if there is possibility I go to Baucau to stay with the bishop in Baucau.

Then he offered a helicopter and I stayed overnight there.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I understand your colleague, the Bishop of Baucau has received a knife wound.

What can you tell us about that?

BISHOP BELO: Well, it is a pity.

The first time I hear about that, I'm worried, and it's not a good signal for one nation where they praise the religious values, the faith in one god.

All these values have been purely -- how do you say? Not be valuated.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There was one period there where all sorts of reports were coming out about your own safety.

There was one report that you'd been kidnapped, another that you'd suffered harm.

How big a risk has there been?

How big a risk did you feel personally over those few days before you were finally forced to leave?

BISHOP BELO: Well, on Monday at 10 o'clock, in fact, when the militias arrived, they begin to shoot from every side, every corner.

I was there inside protected by five or six young men, my aides there.

They told me to sit down on the ground, but I say that we must face, we must leave.

I told them, it is better to leave with other people rather than to stay at home, because we already experienced in Liquica area, where the people were killed inside the residence.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Have you heard report of other clergy actually being killed?

Until now, not yet, but I don't know what's happened.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How tough was it for you to decide to leave East Timor, to leave your people?

BISHOP BELO: Well, it was the only way to tell the world that Timor needs support, international support, and also, because I have the obligation to report to the Holy City to talk to the Pope.

So I decided after consulting the Bishop and after consulting the Vatican embassy in Jakarta that I should leave and next week I will have a meeting in the Vatican.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What will you tell the Pope?

BISHOP BELO: I will tell the Pope to pray, to bless the East Timor people and to understand that the desire of the East Timor people is to maintain what the Holy Father used to say, that maintain their identity, cultural, historical identity.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What is your perspective of the current situation?

Do you feel it is hopeless?

BISHOP BELO: If there are no immediate and urgent international intervention, Timor will be a burnt land.

Timor will be empty, because now all the strategy is how to push their population, pro-independence, pro-autonomy, to West Timor.

So when Xanana Gusmao enters East Timor he will find only trees and stones and so on.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you feel that this operation has been so big, so systematic and such a clear pattern to it, that it couldn't be anything other than orchestrated from the top?

BISHOP BELO: Yes, I think so, I think so.

It's orchestrated from the top.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What do you think of the efforts from the rest of the world so far to come to East Timor's aid?

BISHOP BELO: It is too late.

It is late and when we talk about the diplomacy, we are talking, talking, but what the people need is immediate assistance.

And support and protection.

KERRY O'BRIEN: What do you think it will take to force Indonesia to agree to international peacekeepers?

Or should I say "peace enforcers" in East Timor?

BISHOP BELO: Well, I can only say that I don't believe the Indonesian effort to maintain peace.

They are sending more troops there, but they don't maintain peace.

Why these waves and waves of people leaving East Timor?

Because there is no security.

So it is necessary to be considered by the international community that East Timor people needs international protection.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you understand the argument from world leaders, including Australia's -- the Australian Government's leadership, that peacekeeping or enforcing troops can't be sent into East Timor without Indonesia's agreement, because that would amount to an invasion, to a war?

BISHOP BELO: Well, we know already that the international community never recognise East Timor.

It is not the territory, no?

Before the international community only recognise Portugal as an administrative power.

What contradiction is this? I don't understand.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you think what has happened since the ballot has been announced -- do you think what has happened in these last few days could have been more easily anticipated by the international community?

BISHOP BELO: Yes, it could have been anticipated.

But before the ballot I insist already that the militias should be disarmed, that their international peacekeeping force should be there.

I thought already these things many times before the ballot.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How soon would you contemplate returning and in what circumstances?

BISHOP BELO: Immediately.

If tomorrow the United Nations troops already in Baucau, tomorrow I'll return to East Timor.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There are reports that the militia are saying that they are now going to end their campaign of violence.

Do you feel that there might be any, do you have any faith in that and do you have any faith --?

BISHOP BELO: I would like to see first. I would like to see first.

If all of them, they are all of them they are already withdrawn to Java to Borneo, I will believe.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So you believe that the political cleansing process, the removal of your people to East Timor has been massive?

Do you have any idea how big that operation has been?

BISHOP BELO: I think so.

I think there is ethnical cleansing.

It is a reality.

It is massive or not, I don't have that to say, but what happened in Dili is signal for that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Bishop Belo, thank you again very much for making the time to talk to us.

BISHOP BELO: Thank you.

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