Critics distort East Timor’s history : Alatas

INDONESIAN Foreign Minister Ali Alatas has delivered a broadside against foreign critics of Indonesia’s policy towards East Timor, saying the former Portuguese colony’s history had been manipulated.

“Because of Portuguese propaganda and a group of anti-integrationists who have lived abroad for 20 years, the historical facts of East Timor have been manipulated,” The Indonesia Times yesterdayquoted him as saying.

Speaking in Dili, he said the East Timor problem could be resolved faster if critics on the matter had a better sense of the colony’s history.

“Many foreign reporters do not know much about East Timor,” he said, adding that academics and intellectuals should also re-look the facts on East Timor.

East Timor was annexed by Indonesia in 1976. The United Nations, which does not recognise the annexation, still considers Portugal the administrating power there.

Mr Alatas said on Friday that the root cause of the problems was Lisbon’s stance that Indonesia had ambitions to take over half of Timor island.

“This is not true. Portugal has manipulated the facts,” he said.

He stressed that since proclaiming independence in 1945, Jakarta had considered it “unethical” to annex East Timor.

“Indonesia supports the UN resolution concerning decolonisation, as colonialism contradicts our philosophy,” he said.

But he said that Portugal’s decolonisation process often led to civil wars as seen in Mozambique and Angola. East Timor, too, experienced political turmoil in 1975.

Mr Alatas said that the then East Timor Governor-General Lemos Pires and his two assistants Yonatan and Mota had fled the colony because of civil war. Mr Pires had asked the Indonesian government to provide them with transportation.

“We still have his telegrams in our files,” he said.

He added that because of trouble brewing in East Timor, Jakarta requested Lisbon to return to its former colony and stop decolonisation efforts there.

In response to the civil war and the proclamation of independence by the Fretelin, four other parties in East Timor – the UDT, Apodeti, Kota and Trabalistha – asserted the colony’s desire for integration with Indonesia.

“Logically, these parties represent the majority of the East Timor community,” he said. “No country in the world recognises the Fretelin proclamation,” he added.

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