Department of Foreign
East Timor Transitional Administration
18 September 2001
For Immediate Release
EAST TIMOR REMEMBERS THOSE LOST TO TERRORISM
Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Jose Ramos-Horta addressed an ecumenical service held in the Dili Cathedral today in memory of the innocent lives lost in the terrorist attacks on the United States of America, Tuesday September 11.
In a show of religious unity the service was co-celebrated by Anglican Pastor Maria Fatima Gomes, Catholic Priest Father Aurio and Muslim Haji Djafar Alkatiri.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Catholic Bishop Carlos Belo, and Special Representative of the Secretary General Sergio Vieira de Mello also addressed the service
Over one thousand people attended the service including Chief Minister Designate Mari Alkatiri, and East Timorese Leader Xanana Gusmao.
The following is a copy of Dr Ramos-Horta’s speech:
We are gathering here today to pay tribute to the many thousands of our American friends, brothers and sisters, who were brutally murdered by terrorist fanatics on September 11.
I lived a good portion of a quarter of a century in New York. In the course of the many years of living there and in the last few years of visiting the US several times a year, I can claim to know the US well, having visited almost all 50 States of the Union. There I met thousands of people of different nationalities and beliefs.
There is no other country in the world with this extraordinary ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. And it is this diversity that has made America such a unique country, resilient, creative and rich.
It was with horror that I learned the news of the tragedy that befell my American friends.
The four of us who travelled to Jakarta last week for official meetings, the SRSG Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, Mr. Xanana Gusmao, Mr. Mari Alkatiri and myself, have been horrified like each of you.
Our poor and humble people received the news of the tragedy with profound sadness. Hundreds of simple family people have visited the US Mission in Dili to pay their respects.
I have refused to watch more beyond the first pictures of the WTC collapsing. Maybe it is denial.
I must say that no cause, however noble, no grievance or claim however valid, will ever be great enough to justify the use of terror against innocent civilians.
Fanatics have existed through centuries and caused incalculable suffering to humankind. Let us not ever forget the greatest calamity of all, the Holocaust unleashed by Adolf Hitler, against Jews and Gypsies.
In the 60’s and 70’s we witnessed a wave of terror in Europe by extreme left fanatics such as Action Directe in France, the Red Brigade in Italy, the Bader Meinhof in Germany, Carlos “the Jackal”, in Japan the Japanese Red Army and many others. This terror network has been effectively obliterated. The European experience in successfully eliminating the terrorist organizations in Europe provides us with a glimpse of hope that democracies can prevail over terrorism.
However, we cannot forget other forms of organized violence such as state terrorism against its own citizens. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia was a prime example of how a State uses its full power to unleash violence on its own people.
The difference between these two extreme forms of violence is that the first is practiced by non-state actors with or without the involvement of one or more governments that provide them resources and sanctuary, and state terrorism which is almost always directed at its own citizens.
But in recent years we have witnessed the rising of a new form of terrorism that is mostly located in the Islamic world notably in the Middle East and parts of Asia.
Terrorist networks branch out of Afghanistan and the Middle East. Some enjoy the support of certain governments, while other terrorist organizations claiming to be the true guardians of Islam have caused widespread suffering among their own people.
We all know Islam does not advocate violence.
All religions represented here today call for tolerance, justice, and compassion.
We must resist the temptation to blame entire nations, religions, or peoples for the actions of a small number of political extremists. And if it develops that certain governments have supported the terrorist conspiracy, we should remember that these regimes hold power in their countries by terror and violence, and are not supported by the majority of their citizens or neighbors.
The attacks against New York and the Pentagon killed also many Muslims and Arab-Americans, innocent victims like the rest of the casualties. In bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice, we hope that there will be no more innocent victims. The cycle of violence must end. The tragedy that befell our brothers and sisters in America is already impacting on the lives of many Arabs and Muslims all over the world. Arab and Muslim Americans are now being labelled “enemies” and are harassed.
They are already feeling hostility growing around them from their non-Arab and Non-Muslim neighbors.
The Bush Administration must be praised, commended for its appeals to all Americans not to blame their fellow citizens of Arab and Muslim background.
The Palestinian dream of a homeland has been obliterated and at least postponed for long time.
Europeans of Mediterranean complexion will also be suspected and face hostility, police search, interrogation and humiliation. And I know that from now on when I check-in in an American or European airport, walk into an airport or hotel lounge, many eyes will turn to me. I know I will be stopped, searched, questioned. But I will understand. While we mourn our American friends, pay tribute to them, show the American people our friendship, I should add that Islamic fundamentalist terrorists do not discriminate. Their targets and victims have been very diverse.
We should remember that Islamic terrorist groups in Algeria have murdered at least 100,000 innocent Algerian women and children in the last 10 years alone.
These victims were not Americans or Christians. They were devout, poor Muslims. Pursuing an effective counter-terrorism campaign, the Algerian authorities have managed to cause severe disruption in the terrorist network in Algeria.
The target and the victims of the terrorist groups in Afghanistan are fellow Afghans and the same can be said of Sudan.
As in Europe in the 60’s and 70’s, the terrorists are small fanatic elements that kill indiscriminately men, women and children, of any nationality and religion, and have no popular base. As we gather here today, leaders and peoples of many different convictions, we would say “no!” to all forms of violence, intolerance and terrorism.
The East Timorese people have known much violence in this last quarter of a century. It is estimated that at least 200,000 died between 1975 and 1979 alone. In 1999 a wave of violence and destruction befell our innocent and defenceless people.
But in the 24 years of our own struggle, though effectively abandoned by most of the world, we did not betray the values that actually were our moral sustenance.
We did not allow the injustices that befell us to destroy our own humanity. We did not allow our sadness and anger to turn into hatred towards another people.
We resisted the temptation to manipulate religion in order to win the sympathy of our fellow Christians around the world.
In the course of our struggle we never instigated ethnic hatred and religious bigotry, we never hurl ethnic slurs against those who declared us to be their enemies.
Now we are at peace. There are few places in the world today as peaceful as our country.
We have no organized crime, no drug cartel, and no terror network has set base on our soil.
However, our new nation is still profoundly traumatized and fragile. The peace that we are living needs to be nurtured and consolidated.
Our people have shown great tolerance and compassion against fellow East Timorese who were on the other side of the fence. We harbor no hatred towards those who harmed us and called us their enemy.
Just two weeks ago, we did not hesitate to offer our poor land as temporary asylum for the 400 or so Tampa refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan who were stranded in dangerous seas.
We are a destitute people, extremely poor in material possession. But our people have a great heart.
To my American brothers and sisters, my friends speaking as someone who has lived in and known your country for many years, I join with my East Timorese compatriots in mourning your loved ones, and appeal to you not to allow your anger to betray your compassion.
Do not despair, keep the faith, and America will be ever greater.
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For further information contact:
Ms Caroline O’Brien
Media Liaison Officer - Department of Foreign Affairs
East Timor Transitional Administration
Telephone: +61 (0)417 804 298
José Ramos-Horta Updated Sep 22
* Dr Jose Ramos-Horta is an internationally-renowned spokesperson for the East Timorese cause. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for “sustained efforts to hinder the oppression of small people”.
* Dr Ramos-Horta has been a dynamic and determined advocate for a free and independent East Timor. From 1976 until 1989, he was the permanent representative of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente (FRETILIN) at the United Nations. He currently holds the position of Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in the United Nations appointed, all East Timorese, second transitional cabinet of East Timor.
BD: The Current World Crisis - A collection of statements on the recent terrorist attacks in the US and the subsequent 'war on terrorism'