DAILY CATHOLIC THURSDAY September 2, 1999 vol. 10, no. 166
NEWS & VIEWS
INDONESIAN BISHOPS DEMAND RESPECT FOR EAST TIMOR VOTE
Politicians Called to Be Honest and Serve Common Good
YAKARTA, AUG 31 (ZENIT).- The Indonesian Bishops' Conference, in a message issued on August 17 to commemorate the 54th anniversary of independence of that country, has criticized political leaders for failing to serve the peoples' aspirations and interests, ignoring their very existence and their future.
The document was signed on August 12th by Bishop Joseph Suwatan of Manadao, President, and Bishop Johannes Hadiwikarta of Surabaya, Secretary of the Episcopal conference.
The text, made public by the Vatican news agency, FIDES, states: "We reprimand and strongly warn the political elite, who have failed to behave for the people's good. Certain narrow group interests, and worse, selfish personal interests, should not become the leaders' way of thinking because they harm peace and the just course of social development and the future of our people."
The document, entitled "Moral and political appeal and statement of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference," calls on politicians to serve all the peoples' interests, either in short or long term policies, and to "avoid using the money of the people and of the state to manipulate and support unjust political structures, harmful to the people."
The bishops also demand of government officials, political leaders and business people to give priority to a more humanitarian approach towards the people, particularly to the plight of malnourished children, education for the youth, and assistance for suffering poor people, instead of swindling the peoples' wealth in banking corruption and manipulation of public service offices.
The Church leaders call for attention to the establishment of a rule of law and stressed the importance of the principle of equality of all people before the law. "Stern and consistent implementation of the rule of law should become the commitment of everyone," the text continues. "The nation's leaders should not make unclear statements confusing the people, or worse, tell lies thus impairing the people's confidence and their efforts to live and to strive for upright living."
It is very clear, the bishops point out, that for the progress of the nation the people's sovereignty and basic rights as citizens, openness and togetherness towards achieving the nation's interests, should be the criteria for the political leaders' conduct.
The text also recalls the troubled region of Aceh, riot-torn Ambon and violence-rocked East Timor. The Bishops say they are "deeply concerned" with the recurrent tragedy in the region of Aceh, the northern tip of Sumatra; that loss of life and security and peace must be stopped.
Regarding the situation of East Timor, the Indonesian Bishops summoned the
government to bide by its promises whatever the cost and give the suffering
people a just opportunity to self-determination in peace.
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NEWS & VIEWS