BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   April news

"War is a monster that devours human lives. People died but have not disappeared for they have left behind links of remembrance. This is the other side of sacrifice, of the grief carried by those who did not die. In this new millennium, all the peoples of the world should unite to set up a front for peace, to promote dialogue and strive against any incitement to violence and war. Timor Lorosae was a stage of war ... for twenty-four years!  Today, it is attempting to rebuild itself from the ashes of total destruction and from profound psychological trauma and human grief. It is a hard but an exciting task ... because the East Timorese are motivated to overcome yet again. Beyond physical reconstruction and the establishment of Institutions, the hardest process will be healing the wounds. There is nothing motivating us against the Indonesian people, who also suffered under the former regime. There is nothing motivating us against the present Indonesian regime who we know are trying to make the democratisation process a success." Xanana Gusmao, President of the CNRT
See also: BD: National Council of Timorese Resistance / Conselho Nacional de Resistencia Timorense (CNRT) - A collection of recent speeches, statements and news

CNRT /Congresso Nacional
Presidency

“The Liberation Movement in East Timor”

PRESENTED AT
INDONESIA NEXT CONFERENCE

Jakarta, 19-20 April 2001

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great privilege and a very special opportunity for me to address this important Conference.

I wish to express my gratitude, first of all, to the organisers, Van Zorge, Heffernan & Associates, for inviting me to participate in this exciting initiative of reflection. Secondly, I also express our gratitude to the organisers for the extraordinary way this Conference was designed and , for the thoroughness of its themes.  It is clear that the political and socio-economic situation in Indonesia deserves our attention, in the same way that I believe the process in Timor Lorosae is closely analysed here in Indonesia.  As we now start to build the infrastructure and the superstructures of our new State, the open exchange of opinions and thoughts becomes a learning process. A process where we learn to relate with the rest of the world to that which has became the slogan of our time: the era of globalisation.

Globalisation today is a predefined fate, an irreversible process that engulfs all of us. Globalisation brings multiple benefits with it, but also, according to some critics, some malign and unjust economic effects on underdeveloped countries.

This Conference acknowledges the rules of globalisation and the distinguished speakers, who have taken the floor during the two days, have responded to this imperative. No country in the world can think of living isolated from it. Political narcissism stands in contradicts with current  technological development, which has contributed significantly to general awareness of universal values and sophisticated world market relations.

Although I am here on my own behalf, my colleagues and I represent a small, devastated country trying to rebuild itself from the ashes and to overcome the wounds of psychological and human grief. For this reason, we are willingly learning to live with globalisation and moving towards democracy and tolerance, defending human rights and developing a responsible notion of justice. In these ways we are aiming for meaningful social and economic development, which can bring real concrete benefits to our people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am addressing this forum for two reasons. Firstly, my deep conviction that it is a good opportunity for me to clarify some issues and secondly because I am a living witness to the tragic results of political intolerance.

I don’t intend to appear before you as an expert, but in the belief that by taking part in open debate, which may involve the airing of different opinions, it can only but highlight and enhance the values of democracy.

Timor Lorosae was never a case of separatism, although, during the process of popular consultation, held on 30 August 1999, the phrase “to separate from Indonesia” was used in the first option on the ballot paper. Our struggle for independence should not be considered as a case of “separatism”, in the legal definition of that word. When I say “legal definition”, I mean, “detachment of something that was part of a whole”.

Timor Lorosae was “de facto” incorporated into Indonesia, but was never a “dejure” [legal] part of Indonesia.

Indonesia, colonised by The Netherlands, became a nation in its own right while Timor Lorosae was still colonised by Portugal. In 1974, after the Carnation Revolution, which was led by the Portuguese military, a process to restore self-rule was initiated in the “non self-governing territory” in abidance with International Law.  The period of the Indonesian presence, begun with the invasion by its troops on 7 December 1975, again made Timor Lorosae a territory which was “de facto” occupied by another foreign power. However, this presence lacked the legal authority that could guarantee Indonesia’s sovereignty over Timor Lorosae.

I wish to recall that, according to reliable sources, President Soeharto never accepted a recommendation that the enclave of Oe-Kussi become part of Nusa Tenggara Timur, unless the integration of Timur Timor was recognised by the international community. Soeharto was thus admitting to the need of “de jure” [legal] recognition of the occupation.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Prior to the Indonesian military presence in Timor Lorosae, the people of East Timor had a deep consciousness of their unexercised right to independence.

Many have argued that there was no liberation movement in Timor Lorosae before 1974. That is, in fact, true if we are to speak of an organised structure; however, one cannot overlook two important factors in our history:

Firstly, the relationship with our Portuguese colonisers was fraught right up until the last great rebellion of Manufahi in 1912. Portuguese history documents wars of insurrection being waged throughout the territory, by all the kingdoms and by generation after generation.  Our oral history constantly reiterates the stories also inherent within our culture and sacred rites, that of an heroic suffering and of the epic quest of our people. A common concept to all ethnic groups in Timor Lorosae is, in our language, fatuk no rai, be no ahi, meaning literally, stone and earth, water and fire, which conveys a sense of belonging and place and expresses their sovereignty over their land.  The second and determining factor in our history was the Japanese occupation and the subsequent return of the portuguese. These events strengthened in us an awareness of our identity: that of a people, made up of diverse ethnic groups, who had the common experience of being dominated bya foreign power. The knowledge of liberation struggles in the Portuguese colonies in Africa, initiated during the sixties, also had an impact on this growing awareness by the Timorese elite, particularly amongst the generation born after the Japanese occupation.  In the aftermath of colonialism, the April 1974 Revolution in Portugal added a new political vigour to the emerging consciousness of being Timorese. We enjoyed a political freedom over the next year and a half and our people became united around the goal of independence.  In the next three years, after 7 December 1975, massive Indonesian military operations were aimed at controlling the territory and the overwhelming majority of people who resisted in the mountains. The huge death toll resulting from these operations and, later, the methods used to control the population strengthened the yearning for freedom and significantly deepened the feelings of being one People and of national unity.
And we knew from that time that any policy that attempted to appease the feelings of the East Timorese or to change their minds would be in vain.  This certainty was reaffirmed, year after year, whenever we faced the breaking of our clandestine structures, persecution, imprisonment, torture or the massacres that followed.

Many people argue that the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Dili was the turning point in the Timorese resistance. In fact, it did have that effect internationally for footage of the tragedy convinced the world that something was still very wrong in East Timor, if such brutality was the response to a peaceful demonstration. Yet, in our point of view, from inside the territory, the turning point in the resistance was the six-month cease-fire period in 1983. This period allowed the dissemination of information about the remaining guerrilla forces to areas where we had neither a political nor a military presence. We were able to tell people about the activities of the armed resistance and the fact that we had compelled the enemy army to engage in peace-talks.

Ladies and gentlemen,
During the past decade, Indonesian officials were correct in stating that a lot of money had been spent on Timor Lorosae, and that they could not understand why the Timorese still rejected them.  One should not underestimate the feelings of peoples, nor their consciousness. One cannot compensate physical and moral injury with material rewards. First and foremost, human beings are conscious of their dignity, although, there are those who do not possess this consciousness. The worst mistake anyone can make in their relationships with other people is to minimise their sense of dignity; to consider other people as belonging to an inferior class of human beings.  Such attitudes hurt other people’s feelings and, in such circumstances, one should not take apparent expressions of agreement, in words or actions, as a demonstration of conviction.

The use of force, that is, repression, only deepens existing divides and obstructs the relationship between people; it can never be a deterrent.  Dialogue requires a policy of tolerance. And, basically, tolerance entails an absence of prejudice, an absence of a doctrine of intolerance that promotes extreme positions. Dialogue must seek a balanced solution, that is, a solution that is accepted by all the parties involved because it is fair, or that it is considered the fairest and most acceptable solution by all those involved. No just solution can be found if it is not based on principles and values which guide relationships between human beings, between people and societies, between countries and groups of countries.

During the 1983 cease-fire talks, I presented a draft solution, a peaceful one, to the problem of Timor Lorosae.

In it I asked for the establishment of a UN presence, requested the participation of portugal and of Indonesia, and recommended reconciliation between Timorese political parties. These measures would result in a peaceful process in abidance with International Law.  Radical positions adopted at the time postponed for sixteen years what could have been a peaceful solution to the problem. Sixteen long years of endless actions and reactions, which shaped the minds of those involved, distorted mentalities and ruled their actions and behaviour.  Those sixteen long years combined with the previous eight years deeply affected people’s consciences.

Ladies and gentlemen,
War is a monster that devours human lives. People died but have not disappeared for they have left behind links of remembrance. This is the other side of sacrifice, of the grief carried by those who did not die.  In this new millennium, all the peoples of the world should unite to set up a front for peace, to promote dialogue and strive against any incitement to violence and war.

Timor Lorosae was a stage of war ... for twenty-four years!  Today, it is attempting to rebuild itself from the ashes of total destruction and from profound psychological trauma and human grief.  It is a hard but an exciting task ... because the East Timorese are motivated to overcome yet again. Beyond physical reconstruction and the establishment of Institutions, the hardest process will be healing the wounds.

There is nothing motivating us against the Indonesian people, who also suffered under the former regime. There is nothing motivating us against the present Indonesian regime who we know are trying to make the democratisation process a success.
 

We are, however, concerned with the continuing pro-autonomy militia infiltrations. If they are based in West Timor in order to destabilise the process in Timor Lorosae, then it becomes our concern as well as that of the international community, who are mandated to lead the independence process in Timor Lorosae.

As long as the militias are not disarmed and are allowed to threaten the building of the democratic process in our country, the UN Peace Keeping Forces will continue to assist the East Timorese in building security and stability.

Violence and war have never produced winners or losers. They only produce hostility, hatred, revenge and uncontrolled passions. There are still people in the world who think that the use of force equates to real power and who do not accept that others may resort to reason in their undertakings.

Whilst I was in the mountains, I came across a definition for politics, which states “politics is the art of the possible”. I have tried to understand the meaning and, almost a decade later, I think that this definition, though correct can be variously interpretated in practice. I suggest another definition: “politics is the art of compromise!” However, the implementation of this definition is similarly open to interpretation, and in the seeking of consensus and compromise, democracy is at risk.

However, it is my view, that by raising the level and the dimension of compromise one can open up a path to a genuine and sincere dialogue.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Derived from our own experience, I can say that for dialogue to bear fruit it must not set preconditions. One precondition will lead to the next and as if in compensation others will follow, adding further difficulties and undermining the importance that should be given to the essence of dialogue itself.

Often there is a lack of sincerity and honesty in dialogue. What is often highlighted is a lack of principles and values. Without guiding principles, of justice and of human rights, dialogue will do nothing more than aggravate existing problems.

Today, we face the problem of reconciliation, which presupposes dialogue, and dialogue itself implies the committed involvement of more than one party .There are three components in this reconciliation process: personal, societal and moral.

The personal component requires firstly that an individual finds the courage to accept responsibility for their actions and, secondly, that the other party has the courage to forgive.

The societal component involves the acceptance of this process by society.

The third component is the one that connects us to God with whom, at the end of the day, we must make peace.  For the two first components to be genuinely meaningful in the eyes of society, the moral component must reflect the innermost feelings and motivations of each individual. Without a sense of justice and moral dignity, dialogue is nothing more than an act where each side is continuously trying to out do the other. That is an immoral situation when we are confronted with the suffering of the people.  We are committed to ensure peace and stability in Timor Lorosae by creating basic conditions for all, within a democratic system where justice and human rights are a safeguard to individual and collective freedom. This is the only way to attain the much-needed inner peace in everyone’s heart and mind and to guarantee peace and stability for all.  We are also committed to the establishment of improved friendship and co-operative relations with all the countries and peoples In our region, namely with our neighbours and the Government of Indonesia.  Our future membership of ASEAN will be our way of finding our role and means of participation, no matter how small it may be, in the building of regional peace and co-operation, in the defence of the universal values of human rights, in democracy, freedom and justice.  Thank you.

[Xanana Gusmao]


Conselho Nacional de Resistencia Timorense / National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT)  Updated Apr 4
The CNRT was established as the peak body of the East Timorese people's resistance to the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. Its members are drawn from all walks of life and political viewpoints, including the major political parties. Now that Indonesia has left and the administration of East Timor is being taken over by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), CNRT is restructuring itself to play a new role. This involves moving from opposition to proposition and the facilitation of transition to self-government and independence. See: Nov 1999 The CNRT in Transition & Aug 2000 CNRT National Congress: Draft resolution on human rights
Email Ines Almeida: ines@cnrt-cn.minihub.org  Homepage: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~cnrt

See also:
BD: National Council of Timorese Resistance / Conselho Nacional de Resistencia Timorense (CNRT) - A collection of recent speeches, statements and news


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home   April news
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