DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUn October 22-24, 1999 vol. 10, no. 202
NEWS & VIEWS
INDONESIA REPEALS ANNEXATION OF EAST TIMOR
JAKARTA (CWNews.com) - Indonesia's highest legislative body on Wednesday repealed the country's annexation of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, an action which had never been recognized by the United Nations.
The vote by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) for an unconditional repeal was made as part of a May 4 agreement with the UN setting up East Timor's independence referendum at the end of August.
Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, invaded mainly Catholic East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. In August, the region held a Jakarta-proposed referendum to allow Timorese to choose either autonomy within Indonesia or full independence. After the pro-independence results were revealed, pro-Indonesia militias, armed and backed by Indonesia's military, went on a rampage, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee the former Portuguese colony.
Timorese independence activists welcomed the vote, but said it was only a first step toward respecting East Timor's overwhelming decision for independence. "Indonesia's new Parliament and President must now act to put relations with its neighbor on a peaceful footing," said John M. Miller, spokesman for the East Timor Action Network. "Renouncing its claim to East Timor is only a first step."
Miller called for Indonesia to assist in the safe return of Timorese refugees who fled their homes during the recent massacres, the disbanding and disarming of militias, cooperation with international investigations of human rights violations, and the prosecution of Indonesian military officers and militias leaders responsible for abuses dating back to 1975.
"Indonesia must also renounce all claims for compensation
for any infrastructure or investment in East Timor," said
Miller. "After two and one-half decades of looting its
resources and murdering its people, it is the height of
arrogance for Indonesia to demand anything from East Timor.
Having left the territory in ruins, it is Indonesia which
owes the people of East Timor, not vice versa," added
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NEWS & VIEWS