2 accept Nobel Peace Prize for East Timor work
Indonesia boycotts ceremony
December 10, 1996
Web posted at: 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT)
OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- An outspoken bishop and an exiled
activist accepted the Nobel Peace Prize Tuesday
for their efforts to bring a peaceful end to a two-decade
long conflict with Indonesia in their native East Timor.
Roman Catholic Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo accepted his
share of the $1.2 million prize in the name of the church and
the "voiceless people" of East Timor.
"What the people want is peace, an end to violence and the
respect for their human rights," Belo said. "It is my fervent
hope that the 1996 Nobel Prize for peace will advance these
Both Belo and activist Jose Ramos Horta, who now lives in
Australia, called for talks with Indonesia. Ramos Horta said
that a committed effort from all sides would be needed to
succeed in bringing peace to East Timor.
"Our society will not be based on revenge," he said. "Because
of its credibility and standing, the Catholic Church will be
expected to play a major role in the healing process."
Indonesia was incensed over Ramos Horta's selection, and
attend either a reception with Norwegian royalty or the Nobel
ceremony itself, held on the 100th anniversary of the death
of Swedish dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, the prize's
Indonesia accuses the self-exiled East Timorese of inciting
unrest in East Timor, which it has occupied since Portugal
abandoned it in 1975 during a civil war. Since that time,
Indonesia has been accused of gross human rights
violations while battling the East Timorese independence
Indonesia annexed East Timor, but the United Nations has
never recognized the annexation, and still considers Portugal
the administrator of East Timor.
The Indonesians also reportedly warned Belo to temper his
remarks or face possible exile or other repercussions when he
returns home. A spokesman for the Indonesian government
denied the suggestion.
The Indonesian government did criticize Belo after his
selection for the prize, however, for allegedly telling the
German magazine Der Spiegel that Indonesian troops treated
East Timorese as "scabby dogs" and "slaves." Belo said he was
Man of the cloth, man of politics
The two Peace Prize winners approach efforts to bring peace
to the conflicted territory differently. Belo, the fiery
clergyman, has been called upon by the Indonesian government
to mediate disputes, and has cautioned East Timorese youth to
cease their own violence against the Indonesian occupation.
The bishop said Tuesday that he was reminded of 1964 Peace
Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "standing on the
mountain top, looking out at the promised land." Those
words, he said, reminded him of the mountains of East Timor.
Seeing those mountains, he said, "I feel ever more strongly
that it is high time that the guns are silenced in East Timor
once and forever."
Horta, who fled East Timor three days before the Indonesian
invasion, has long advocated independence. Portuguese
authorities exiled him from 1970 to 1972 for his activities,
and he now campaigns around the world for independence. An
independent East Timor, he said, would have no standing
army, and would build a "strong democratic state."
"East Timor is at the crossroads of three major cultures,
(Melanesian, Malay-Polynesian and Latin Catholic)," he said.
"This rich historical and cultural existence places us in a
unique position to build bridges of dialogue and cooperation
between the peoples of the region."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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