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USIS Washington File

27 September 1999

Transcript: Albright/Gusmao September 26 Remarks on East Timor

(Humanitarian crisis, refugees demand immediate attention) (2040)
The continuing humanitarian crisis in East Timor and the growing
tragedy of East Timorese refugees in West Timor are of acute concern
and demand immediate attention, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
said in September 26 remarks in New York.
"President Habibie has assured the international community that all
displaced persons in West Timor would be protected, humanely cared
for, and allowed to return safely to East Timor," Albright said. "I
call on the Government of Indonesia to immediately take steps to make
good on this pledge, to stop the collusion between the Indonesian
military and the militias, and to disarm the militias."
"The militias must not be permitted to either threaten displaced
persons or to wage an insurgency campaign against East Timor," she
said.
Albright also called upon the Indonesian government to ensure that all
displaced persons wishing to return to East Timor are able to do so
and to "step up cooperation" with the United Nations and the
UN-sanctioned multinational peacekeeping force INTERFET to restore
order in East Timor and prevent future violence there.
"The Government and armed forces of Indonesia should understand that
what happens in West Timor and to East Timorese living elsewhere in
Indonesia is as important to the United States policy as what happens
in East Timor itself," Albright said.
Albright said that the ongoing review of U.S. aid to Indonesia will
"take into account all relevant factors."
"These (factors) include whether a secure environment has been created
in the West Timor camps, whether necessary services are being
provided, whether East Timorese who desire to return home are allowed
to do so, and whether Indonesia's military is preventing the militias
in West Timor from carrying out attacks in East Timor," she said.
The relationship between the United States and Indonesia "cannot
return to what has been considered a normal basis until these various
issues are resolved and until it is possible for the ... multinational
force to be able to do its work," Albright said.
Following is the State Department transcript of Albright's and East
Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao's remarks:
(begin transcript)
As Delivered
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
New York, New York
September 26, 1999
REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
AND EAST TIMORESE INDEPENDENCE LEADER XANANA GUSMAO
ALBRIGHT: Good evening, I have just had the opportunity to meet here
in New York with East Timorese leader, "Xanana" Gusmao and Dr. Ramos
Horta, two men I respect deeply for their commitment to reconciliation
and democracy. And I must say I am especially pleased to be able to
greet Mr. Gusmao for the first time as a free man. We met when I was
in Jakarta and I worried about him a lot and now I am very pleased to
have him here by my side.
During our meetings, we discussed the security and humanitarian
situation in both East Timor and West Timor. We agreed that the
continuing humanitarian crisis in East Timor and the growing tragedy
of East Timorese refugees in West Timor are of acute concern. They
demand immediate attention.
It was for this reason that, last week, I asked Julia Taft, our
Assistant Secretary for Refugees, Population and Migration to go to
the region to get a first-hand perspective of the severity of the
situation on the ground there. She spent a total of six days in
Jakarta, West Timor, and East Timor, and what she has reported to me
is terribly troubling.
While Assistant Secretary Taft received excellent cooperation from
civilian authorities, she reported that the situation on the ground in
West Timor is appalling. She personally witnessed a heavy militia
presence within camps housing East Timorese displaced persons, and
observed clear incidences of collusion between the Indonesian military
and militia groups. This collusion has created an extremely dangerous
situation, that makes it impossible for international humanitarian
organizations to operate safely and effectively in West Timor at this
time.
President Habibie has assured the international community that all
displaced persons in West Timor would be protected, humanely cared
for, and allowed to return safely to East Timor. I call on the
Government of Indonesia to immediately take steps to make good on this
pledge, to stop the collusion between the Indonesian military and the
militias, and to disarm the militias. The militias must not be
permitted to either threaten displaced persons or to wage an
insurgency campaign against East Timor.
I further call on the Indonesian government to ensure that all
displaced persons wishing to return to East Timor are able to do so. I
am particularly troubled by credible reports that East Timorese are
being forcibly relocated from West Timor to other locations in
Indonesia rather than being allowed to return home. This is
unacceptable and a clear violation of international standards of human
rights.
Finally, I call on the Government of Indonesia to step up cooperation
with the United Nations and with INTERFET, in order to restore order
in East Timor and prevent future violence there.
The Government and armed forces of Indonesia should understand that
what happens in West Timor and to East Timorese living elsewhere in
Indonesia is as important to the United States policy as what happens
in East Timor itself. The ongoing aid review that we initiated several
weeks ago will take into account all relevant factors. These include
whether a secure environment has been created in the West Timor camps,
whether necessary services are being provided, whether East Timorese
who desire to return home are allowed to do so, and whether
Indonesia's military is preventing the militias in West Timor from
carrying out attacks in East Timor.
Let me note in conclusion that while our meeting today was concerned
primarily with East Timor, I remain deeply concerned about other
developments in Indonesia, including the tragic deaths of six people
in demonstrations this week. I will be meeting with Foreign Minister
Alatas later this week to discuss a number of issues, including the
importance of completing the selection process for President and Vice
President, that it take place peacefully, without delay and in a
fashion which reflects the clear desire of the Indonesian people for
democratic change.
And now Mr. Gusmao.  Thank you.
MR. GUSMAO: I would like to, on behalf of the East Timorese people, to
thank the US Government, Secretary of State, Ms. Madeleine Albright,
and President Clinton for the role, for the important role that the
United States played in avoiding a very dramatic genocide in East
Timor. The East Timorese people showed to the world their
determination to seek freedom and peace; that instead of freedom,
instead of peace, we have to face a difficult time suffering from
violence and killings, and now East Timorese people is dying for
starvation and disease not only in the concentration camps in West
Timor but also in the jungle of East Timor.
Again, to the United States, I am very grateful to meet the Secretary
of State. In the name of my people, as you can understand, they appeal
to more help to save my people. And I can say to you, too, that I
received all these hearings on the United States in order to diminish
the suffering of my people and, again, I am very, very thankful to the
US Government.
I'm very sorry, my English doesn't allow me to speak very much better.
I bring the sorrow of my people and the suffering of my people to the
hand of the Secretary of State and I can go back, I can return to East
Timor, with new hope. I believe that East Timorese people, with the
help of the international community and the United States, we can
build a new country where love and democracy will be our most
important ideals. We will do everything to help to build the idea of
peace, democracy, love and justice to every people.
And I think, they have to be led -- to be able to return to my
country, to say to my people that we are not alone: we have our
friends, many friends, and we can see the future with new faith, with
new confidence and new determination.
Thank you.
Q: Madame Secretary, you have made a number of demands from the
Indonesian Government today. Are they being given -- in your further
contacts with the Indonesian Government, are they being given a date
by which they should comply, and will the US consider further measures
if they do not comply?
ALBRIGHT: Well, as I said, we are obviously in touch with the
Indonesian Government. I will personally make these points again to
Foreign Minister Alatas in my meeting with him. We want them to comply
with all of this as soon as possible. Some of the conditions that are
evident, there is no timetable; they just must stop doing the kinds of
things that I have mentioned.
And as I have also said, that as reviews go forward, we are taking
into consideration all the problems that have been described and our
relationship cannot return to what has been considered a normal basis
until these various issues are resolved and until it is possible for
the international or the multinational force to be able to do its work
and all the points that I raised about the militias and the Indonesian
military and all the conditions in West Timor are also rectified.
Q: Madame Secretary, there have been persistent reports about the
militias regrouping and possibly preparing to attack the peacekeepers.
Is the United States prepared to provide reinforcements to the
Australians should they need it?
ALBRIGHT: We have been, obviously, discussing how we can be helpful.
We have been already very involved in talking with, obviously, the
Australians and we will be assessing the situation as it evolves.
What I have found up here in the last week is the common determination
of the international community to make the multinational force work
properly and then also move into the transitional, the Phase III
aspect, of the operation. And I think this has clearly been not just a
subject of discussion up here but of effective action of trying to get
all the pieces put together.
Q: Madame Secretary, do you feel that the military or the political
authorities in Indonesia are coherent and in control and this is a
concerted effort by them to make trouble or work their will, or do you
think that anarchy is taking over Indonesia? Do you see any prospects
that a government led by Megawati or anybody else could actually do a
better job?
ALBRIGHT: I am not going to get into the electoral campaign but what
we do want to see is that the government in Jakarta get its act
together in order to do what I asked here, which is to get the
Indonesian military to control the militia and stop the militia from
marauding and doing the kinds of things that Assistant Secretary Taft
reported in terms of what is going on in the camps, where the militia
are kind of running around and taking actions that are obviously
unacceptable to the international community.
So I think that whatever the status of relationships with the
Indonesian government, it behooves them to get control over this and
try to regain the respect of the international community.
RUBIN:  We have time for one more in Portuguese right there, please.
Q: I would like to know, Mr. President, when do you intend to return
to East Timor, firstly; and, secondly, what do you expect from the
tripartite meeting to which I believe you will not be able to take
part?
MR. GUSMAO: I intend to return to East Timor as soon as I can do so,
as soon as I am allowed to do so. As far as the tripartite meeting is
concerned, I don't believe it will be the regular tripartite meeting
and I expect that I will be able to take part.
RUBIN:  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.
(end transcript)



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