Statement presented to the Committee By Mari Alkatiri (Universities Network of East Timor) and (Law Faculty of the Eduardo Mondlane University)

June. 1998

Mr. Chairman, Honorable Members of the Committee.

It is for me an honour to be here again to address this Special Committee on De-colonization. First of all I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on your election to preside over this Committee.

Allow me I Mr. Chairman to present some views in a very brief term on the question of East Timor.

A. Back to the history

When Indonesia invaded East Timor on December 7, 1975, the international community regarded the act as a violation of the inalienable right of the East Timorese people to self-determination and independence. Furthermore, East Timor's invasion and occupation by Indonesia defies international law thus creating an illegal situation which must be solved.

It is common understanding that an illegal situation of territorial take-over cannot be solved by fake or pseudo-"solutions", i.e., that do not take into account the deeply-rooted reasons of the conflict, which, at the end of the day, will only lead to legitimising the occupation and denying the right to self-determination to the people of the occupied territory.

In the specific case of East Timor, the United Nations, namely the Security Council and the General Assembly, adopted several resolutions demanding the withdrawal of the Indonesian occupation forces (Resolutions nrs. 384(1975) of 22 December, 389 (1976) of 22 April, 3485 (1975) of 12 December, 31/53 of 1 December 1976, 32/34 of 28 November 1977, 33/39 of 13 December 1978, 34/40 of 21 November 1979, 35/27 of 11 November 1980, 36/50 of 24 November 1981), recognising Portugal as the legal administering power of the territory and reiterating the right of the East Timorese people to self-determination and independence.

UN General Assembly Resolution nr. 37/30, of 23 November 1982, mandated the UN Secretary-General to provide his good offices to promote dialogue amongst all interested parties so to achieve a comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the conflict in East Timor.

This led to the tripartite process of talks between Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations. The Representatives of the people of East Timor were never directly involved in this process due to Indonesia's refusal in accepting the participation of the East Timorese Resistance. To a certain extent, it can be stated that the non-direct participation of the Resistance in the whole process has only contributed to its stalemate.

Until now, it was often stated that Indonesia's refusal was linked to the nature of the regime thereby demanding flexibility from the East Timorese so to counteract Jakarta's inflexibility. At present, the situation is different and there is no reason for the East Timorese to continue to play with unclear rules. If the issue is to focus on interested parties, then I have no doubts whatsoever that East Timor is the most interested party in the solution of this conflict.

Accordingly and in light of developments in the East Timorese situation where "offers" of a "special status" and "extended autonomy" have been rebound in the streets of Dili and in the mountains, I share the opinion that the solution of the East Timor question must include:

l.The unconditional release of all the East Timorese political prisoners, in particular, that of XANANA GUSMAO, President of the CNRT - National Council of Timorese Resistance;

2.Recognition by Indonesia of East Timor's right to self-determination and independence;

3. Direct participation of the CNRT in the talks under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General;

4. The withdrawal of the Indonesian Armed Forces from East Timor; ,

5.The Organisation of a universal, direct and secret consultation of the people of East Timor (referendum or other forms of universal ballot).

B. "Indonesia's offer - Autonomy or Special Status"

The sole novelty in this Indonesian "offer" lies in the fact that it was formally and publicly disclosed. In fact, for many years now, several Resistance leaders have been approached by Indonesian envoys with similar proposals, both in letter and in spirit. The Resistance has never been influenced by such Indonesian "offers", not even during the most uncertain and hardest periods of the struggle waged by the East Timorese.

I deem important to note that these "offers" have first and foremost the following intents:

1. A political "marketing" bid aiming at:

* Conveying an apparently more flexible attitude by the Habibie government;

* Conveying an image that the East Timorese Resistance and Portugal are inflexible;

* Creating false expectations and thereby demobilising international support to the cause of self-determination;

* Endlessly postponing the solution to the East Timor question.

2. "Divide to reign" Strategy:

* An ultimate effort to divide the East Timorese; * Thus, the apology of danger in holding a referendum; * To justify the need of a "solution" without consulting with the people of East Timor.

C. Avenues for a Solution: For a just solution, the following stands should be adopted:

1. Negotiations without pre-conditions and direct participation of CNRT, led by XANANA GUSMAO, in the process of dialogue under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, involving Portugal and Indonesia;

2. Unrestricted debate of all the issues regarding East Timor in the Intra-Timorese Dialogue; 3. Refusal of any offer of a political status for East Timor unless it arises from a consensus born out of the negotiation process, in full respect of International Law.

Mr. Chairman.

To conclude, I would like to call your attention to the current situation in East Timor where the Indonesian designated administration is creating a time bomb by promoting violence and criminal action against the people.

It is urgent to call the Indonesian Government to restraint from any kind of violent action against the large majority of the people of East Timor and to respect lives and property of any single member of the population. These are the guarantee for a peaceful solution of the conflict.

Thank you Mr Chairman.

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