02 August 2001
Suara Timor Lorosae: The rise of Megawati as Indonesia’s new president is worrying a lot of people because she is viewed as a nationalist. How does her rise bode for relations between Indonesia and Timor Lorosae?
Bishop Belo: I am not a politician. But I have to observe from other sectors from the community and the international sector. The international community is involved with Timor Lorosae, basically in seeing it emerge smoothly as the world’s newest nation. For that reason, Indonesia [under Megawati] will be cautious.
The Indonesian Parliament in October last year said Jakarta will no longer make any efforts to get back Timor Lorosae. I think Indonesian politicians will honor decisions made by Parliament. I am certain Megawati and her new deputy will respect the wishes of the Timorese people.
Suara Timor Lorosae: There are those who say Megawati is surrounded by too many generals. Some of these generals are connected with crimes against humanity in Timor Lorosae. Will they not influence Megawati?
Bishop Belo: These human rights issues would be put aside for the time being. But that doesn’t mean the truth won’t be out. Justice must be done. History will judge them. Already what happened in the 70s are being discussed. So the crimes against humanity in Timor Lorosae is still a priority.
Suara Timor Lorosae: Before the referendum you had met Megawati and Gus Dur. What was your assessment of Megawati and what do you think her views were on Timor Lorosae.
Bishop Belo: I only met her two times. She just smiled and was friendly. But smiles are not enough. There has to be firm action. Before the referendum she was know as the “Mother of Autonomy”. She has been too quiet. But I think her quiet nature is because she wants to reflect, think and take steps which are realistic. I think steps to take back Timor Lorosae will just not happen.