A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Gusmao speaks out on Afghanistan

War is not the way - Gusmao

MELBOURNE - East Timorese presidential candidate Xanana Gusmao yesterday denounced the United States-led air strikes on Afghanistan.

Mr Gusmao said the horrors of war had scarred East Timor. "After fighting 24 years, believing in Peace, now I would like to see America and other countries seek another approach," he said.

"Use all means, but not violence, because we are still feeling in our skin the suffering, the pain... war will not end if we use violence to respond to violence.

"It is difficult for me to say this when we responded with violence, but it was to defend our freedom. Now, maybe it is on behalf of the freedom of Afghanistan's people, but there must be other means to achieve a solution." Mr Gusmao said the history of violence in the Middle East made it difficult to find an easy solution.

Despite being close to Indonesia, strongly Catholic East Timor was not concerned at this stage about possible reprisals by Muslim fundamentalists. "No, no, because we are not in the list of powerful nations," he said. "And we just separated from Indonesia. During the struggle it was often said that Islamisation was taking place in East Timor - it is why I don't believe East Timor will be a special target from Indonesian people or Indonesian Islamic groups."

- The West Australian, 9 Oct 2001, page 5

Originally posted at previous blog.


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