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Resolution on East Timor

The founders of the Indonesian nation were aware that independence was the golden bridge towards a socially just society. Because of this, when Indonesia was proclaimed as an independent nation, the preamble to the 1945 Indonesian Constitution stated in its first paragraph: ``In reality independence is the right of all nations and as a result, colonialism in all parts of the world must be eradicated, as it is not in line with humanism and justice''.

The Constitution should be the corner stone and the guide for a nation and country.

Therefore, a government must be subservient to, obey and in turn implement consistently its Constitution. Right now, the basic principle of the Indonesian constitution has been held in contempt through the hypocrisy of various nations who have encouraged the New Order regime to practise expansionist politics by colonising other nations through violent armed means and to initiate a long civil war in East Timor.

This expansionism has been to the detriment of the Indonesian people, as well as contravening the promises contained in the Preamble to the 1945 Constitution.

Expansion into East Timor has created the following effects:

Firstly, the wasting of the national budget on financing military operations, to buy weapons and the project to develop a lighthouse. The national budget should instead be used to eliminate poverty amongst the Indonesian people and to contribute to the people's social well-being.

Secondly, the long civil war has claimed many victims, amongst them members of the Indonesian armed forces, Timorese fighters and the civilian population. This results in psychological trauma for these soldiers and their families. This war must cease by agreeing to solutions promoted by the United Nations.

Thirdly, an Indonesian foreign policy which is free and independent, as formulated by Sukarno and the principles which form the foundation of the Non-Aligned Movement philosophy, is consistent with the eradication of all forms of colonialism and neo- colonialism. The Indonesian handling of the question of East Timor contradicts the freedom and independence in its foreign policy. Ignoring these principles and pressure on Indonesian foreign policy can be avoided if we return to the basic tenets of international relations, those which respect the human rights and independence of a nation.

Fourthly, the Indonesian nation is a historical product of the geographical administration of Dutch colonialism. Therefore consistent with this, territorial problems need to be resolved with this history of how the nation was formed in mind. The history of East Timor was that it was part of the Portuguese colonial empire and in turn part of its decolonisation project. In addition, East Timor proclaimed independence on 28 November 1975. We need to learn from our own history, where the Dutch did not recognise our independence when it was proclaimed on 17 August 1945, but in 1949 instead. It's a pity that this colonial mentality is what we now find ourselves emulating and putting into practice.

Fifthly, Indonesia is part of an international community, where relations between nations are governed by a code of ethics and a series of international laws, as instituted by the United Nations. Upholding of these laws and ethics will earn us international respect. As a UN member, Indonesia must abide by the principles and aims of the UN which state that: ``It (the UN or member country) has to end all acts of aggression and other acts which endanger international peace through non-aggressive means. Furthermore, it must resolve international conflicts and potential conflicts according to principles of justice and international law." With this in mind, it would be a moral obligation and a worthy thing for President Suharto to uphold UN General Assembly resolution passed on 19 November 1976 which stated overwhelmingly that East Timor has to undergo a process of self-determination.

Remembering the importance of peace in the stability of regional relations in the Asia Pacific, all potential conflicts in the region must be accommodated and resolved using new means and involving international bodies as moderator. Indonesia needs to reduce as much as possible the potential for conflict and the resolution of the East Timor problem as arranged and agreed to by the UN is a way towards that aim. We do not want the experience of the US in the Vietnam War to be ours, especially being a nation that is renowned for its tenacious fight against colonialism in the past. We are certain that the UN has to be given full authority to resolve the issue of East Timor, only in this way can we be free from the labyrinth of mistakes of the past. We are also certain that this issue has to be part of the struggle for democratic rights, a struggle towards forming a government of people's sovereignty, far from authoritarian rule and one which places independence and human rights as a basis for international relations, a struggle such as that in which the PRD and the rest of the democratic movement are involved. Based on the above, the PRD sees the need to incorporate the `problem' of East Timor as the problem of the Indonesian people.

The anti-colonialist nature of the Indonesian Constitution and people needs to be brought back to the forefront again. We are certain that the peaceful resolution of the East Timor conflict, a resolution which is far removed from the sacrifice of more human lives and from false nationalism can come about through the following means:

  • To allow the resolution of the conflict to be governed by UN resolution no. 3485/1975, a resolution which agrees to the ending of colonial rule in East Timor and the facilitation of the self-determination efforts of the Maubere people.
  • To reduce military operations and administration in East Timor and to hand it over to multinational peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN, as we have seen in Bosnia, Ethiopia and Cambodia.
  • To open up East Timor to journalists, human rights groups, the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC), individuals, researchers and all those who want to see the real conditions in East Timor in an objective manner, free from censorship and harassment.
  • To implement a political decentralisation project, which gives full autonomy to the Maubere people; the reduction of military personnel, the opening of an ICRC office, a multinational peace-keeping force till the time of a conduct of a referendum in East Timor.
  • Issues surrounding the question of East Timor need not be a taboo question and a dark chapter of history. They will become clear and will shine brightly, like the shine and brightness of the strength and sovereignty of the Indonesian people in the future. Because of this, the question of East Timor needs to be resolved in good faith and with conviction as set out in the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that the rights of people need to be protected according to legal principles so that they are not forced to choose rebellion as a final means of fighting tyranny and colonial domination.

    National Committee of the PRD
    Jakarta, 22 July 1996

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