This is an input broadcasted Oktober 12, 
1999, on Reg.East-Timor <> lists.
(re-editted mounted 15-Oct-1999)

A Comment to Bishop Belo's Statement

> The Australian
> 11 October 99 
> Bishop preaches gospel of justice
> Bishop Belo said no militia member should be allowed to participate in the 
> government of East Timor until justice was doneā putting him at odds with 
> the commander of the international force, Major-General Peter Cosgrove, who 
> said on Saturday that militia members could participate in the future 
> government of the territory.
With all due respect to Monseigneur Belo, of whom I've always had and continue to have a very high opinion, I can only hope that this report missrepresents what he really meant to say.

I believe, Maj.Gen. Cosgrove's statement was in full agreement with policy of the CNRT already expressed by Xanana Gusmão and others with regard to militia members.

Ultimate reponsibility for the carnage and scorched earth in E.T. lies not with the militia, even if it was they who did most of the dirty work. Responsibility lies with the Indonesian generals. Let's not punish the "little people", most of whom committed whatever crimes they performed under various degrees of either circumstantial or direct compulsion, and let the "big shots" get away. Even at this moment, reports are circulating that the military leadership in Indonesia is starting a purge of militia headmen to eliminate witnesses that could implicate the Indonesian generals before an international tribunal.

It is therefore particularly important, I think, to provide these witnesses a place of assylum before the generals manage to eliminate them. The reconstruction of the entire truth, and for that one needs all the witnesses and evidence available, will, I believe, prove to be much more important for the East Timorese, than the "statisfaction" of seeing the one or the other of the lesser culprits punished.

In my opinion, the complete clarification of the crimes that were perpetrated against the East Timorese is not solely in the interest of East Timor. It is just as important for Indonesia and the entire Western Pacific.

Actually, East Timor and Indonesia are not just neighbours, our people are brothers who share deep roots of common Austronesian culture. Even after the 24 years of military occupation with all its horrors, chances were not altogether excluded that after a peaceful separation, the two countries could find ways to establish friendly neighbourly relations. This would have answered to Indonesia's own down-to-earth economic and political interests. And their own economic interests would have encouraged the East Timorese too, in their turn to seek restoration of good relations with Indonesia. Such a development would also have been in the interest of ASEAN and the entire Western Pacific seaboard.

By his totally insightless policy of resistance against fully justified East Timorese aspirations for independence, manifesting itself in an elaborately planned escalation of armed violence against the population ending in the carnage after the Referendum, General Wiranto not only drove a lasting wedge between our two people. His attempts at "playing statesman" had the effects of an elephant on the rampage in a china store in a wider Southeast Asian and West Pacific scale.

I shall not go into the anti-constitutional character of the entire East Timor adventure and its consequences on Indonesia's national identity as former colony and host country of the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung. Responsibility for that lies with Soeharto.

As for General Wiranto's responsibility, apart from the moral aspects, it has brought lasting damage to Indonesia's immediate economic and political interests as regards relations with East Timor as well as Australia, and perhaps also with the US, Europe and New Zealand, and has in any case greatly comprimised perspectives ensuing from Indonesia's strategic geographical position. It has also harmed the intricate balance of relations between the Pacific Rim countries in general. It not only forced Asian vote-solidarity automatism in the UN Council, but the anti-Australian campaign launched by the Indonesian military leadership has already struck waves in the media of neighbouring countries. This is not in line with established traditions of Indonesian foreign policy, and these traditions did not grow out of altruist principles, but answered to tangible national interests.

Therefore, if it is certainly not my right to appeal to Monseigneur Belo from an East Timorese point of view, then from an Indonesian aspect too, one should perhaps let clemency prevail with regard to the East Timorese members and leaders of the militia, so that those who are really responsible may hopefully be brought to justice. This will not leave the milita people unpunished, because there will be no escape from the most terrible punishment they will have to endure.

After the 1949 Round-Table Conference, we in Indonesia also had a national reconciliation with those who had fought on the side of the colonizers. They were not discriminated in any way, and nobody ever pointed a finger at them. But I am personally befriended with some of their children, and I know: through no guilt of their own they have silently suffered innerly their whole life long because their fathers had been "on the wrong side" in 1945-1949. Is there a more cruel punishment than being responsible for life-long mental anguish of one's own children? Unfortunately, one will not be able to remit that punishment onto the person actually responsible: General Wiranto.

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