Nobelist urges Japan to pressure Indonesia

Japan should pressure the Indonesian government to end the conflict in East Timor, a Nobel laureate and East Timor independence campaigner said Jan. 6 in Tokyo.Jose Ramos Horta appealed to the Japanese government “to use its enormous influence on Indonesia to release all the prisoners, to stop torture, to stop shooting young people, to stop transmigration into East Timor, as first gestures of goodwill toward the people of East Timor.” Japan “has contributed a lot to world peace and security to alleviate poverty in the world, and it has contributed to the development of many countries. It has, therefore, gained moral authority to speak up against villainy that today exists in Asia and elsewhere,” Ramos Horta told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club.Ramos Horta received the Nobel Peace Prize last month in Oslo jointly with Bishop Carlos Belo of East Timor.East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and was annexed the next year. The annexation has not been recognized by the United Nations, which regards Portugal as the territory’s administrative power. Human rights groups accuse Indonesia of widespread killings and persecution in East Timor, although Jakarta denies the allegations.Ramos Horta said the conflict in East Timor should not be viewed as a question of secession because it was never a part of Indonesia. “It is a question of self-determination. It is a question of decolonization,” he said. “I can assure you no matter the force used against the people of East Timor, we will never surrender,” he said.Negotiations under the United Nations have been going on for five years but no progress has been made so far, according to Ramos Horta. “We remain ready to engage in dialogue with Indonesia without any preconditions,” he said, adding that he is willing to explore ideas in good faith to end the conflict in East Timor.