Timorese President presents human rights report to Annan

20 January 2006

Timorese President Xanana Gusmão today presented an independent human rights report to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and called attention to the need for aid to his country once the UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) ends its mission there in May.

At a news conference in New York, President Gusmão said the report, which looks at the 24-year occupation of the former Portuguese territory by Indonesia, was “a way to heal the wounds in the people’s minds” but he stressed the need now was to focus on the future development of the tiny country that gained independence in 2002.

“We are here for some business, one is to present to the Secretary-General the report from the CAVR, the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, and of course to explain a little bit about the process in East Timor, and to talk with Members of the Security Council about the prospects after 20 May 2006,” the President said.

“The main objective of the report is to present the situation of 24 years of war. The figures can be disputed but the essential issue is to remind not only our future generation not to commit all that happened again in East Timor, but also to remind the international community to try everything that it doesn’t happen again elsewhere,” he added.

“The CAVR is not talking only about the suffering of the people because of the invasion. The CAVR reported also human rights violations committed by ourselves to Timorese people, to our compatriots. Timorese acts committed by Timorese to Timorese,” the President said, emphasizing that the report looked at both sides.

President Gusmão went on to stress the very important role that the UN had played in assisting his country, something that was echoed by Jose Ramos-Horta, the Foreign Minister of Timor-Leste, who also spoke at the news conference and told reporters of what the country would like to see after the May expiry of UNOTIL.

“The Prime Minister addressed a letter to the Secretary-General and to the Security-Council requesting a special political office to be established in Timor after May 20, 2006,” Mr. Ramos-Horta said, referring to the date when the mandate of the current office expires. He said a new presence was needed to provide “continuing assistance.”

The Security-Council is due to meet on Monday to discuss the situation in Timor-Leste and in particular the Secretary-General’s latest report on UNOTIL, which was released earlier this week.

In the report, Mr. Annan described the nascent country as remaining “generally calm and stable” but said “much remained to be done” to consolidate progress.

“I strongly believe that while the future of the country rests with the Timorese people and their Government, the international community should remain engaged in Timor-Leste beyond 20 May 2006, when the UNOTIL mandate expires,” the Secretary General said.

One of the issues that Mr. Annan highlighted was the need to complete delineation of the land border with Indonesia, but in particular he said a “major challenge” facing the country in the near term would be the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007.

UNOTIL was set up in May 2005 to succeed the UN Mission of Support in Timor-Leste (UNMISET), which was established in 2002 to help with administrative structures, law enforcement and security after the country gained independence from Indonesia.