Returning hero tells Timor to forgive

JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, East Timor's de facto foreign minister and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, returned to his home yesterday after 24 years in exile, and urged his people to forgive Indonesia for its brutal occupation of his country.

"My first words are words of gratitude, words of thanks, of sincere thanks to each and all of you," he told 5,000 people who gathered at the former Portuguese governor's palace in the East Timorese capital, Dili.

"I did not come today, to arrive here after 24 years ... to teach a lesson to any one, because the true heroes are those who stayed behind. They're the ones who suffered, they're the ones who were tortured, were raped. They're the ones who were killed. With humility we bow to their courage."

He arrived from a historic meeting in Jakarta with the Indonesian president, Abdurrahman Wahid. Until last year, Mr Ramos-Horta was a hate figure for Jakarta which resented his success in keeping alive the issue of Indonesia's brutal annexation of East Timor in the United Nations and international capitals.

But yesterday, Mr Ramos-Horta called for reconciliation. "If any Indonesians stay here we must take care of them, talk with them, because we must follow what God says and forgive," he said. "If we are friendly with them, the whole world would respect us."

The Indonesian parliament gave East Timor independence last month, after the bloody violence, perpetrated by its own army and militias, which followed August's overwhelming vote for independence in the UN-supervised referendum.

Many exiled East Timorese have returned to Dili, including the guerrilla commander, Xanana Gusmao, who spent seven years in prison in Jakarta. But the changes have exposed tensions among the different wings of the pro-independence body, the National Council for East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), particularly between those who stayed in the country, and those who campaigned from exile in Portugal and Australia.

Yesterday, Mario Carrascalao, a prominent independence leader and adviser to Mr Gusmao, made a fierce attack on Mr Ramos-Horta in an interview, accusing him of attempting to dominate the CNRT by appointing his personal allies to key positions. "Gusmao is isolated and Ramos-Horta is trying to control totally the CNRT, nominating his friends, without consulting anybody, to all the jobs," Mr Carrascalao told the Lisbon paper, Publico.

Mr Ramos-Horta, a former journalist of mixed Portuguese and Timorese parentage, left East Timor 24 years ago this week to gather diplomatic support for East Timorese independence, which was threatened by covert Indonesian incursions in the west of the country.

As the diplomatic representative, it was he who had obtained a notorious letter from the then Indonesian foreign minister, Adam Malik, promising that Jakarta had no territorial designs on East Timor. But three days after his departure, Indonesia invaded launching a war which left an 200,000 people dead and displaced many more.

Three of Mr Ramos-Horta's brothers and a sister died during the struggle.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star