Ramos-Horta unapologetic

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta returned to Dili today and again responded to questions over whether Indonesia is going to apologise for its past crimes. I guess the local reporters were wanting him to elaborate on comments he made in Japan. Ever the pragmatist about such questions, he said Indonesia was apologising “in its own way”.

We hope that with time working with them, when conditions are right, they will do it in their own way. They are already doing it in their own way because there are ways how Asians do things, you know, in the sense of by helping, by providing all kinds of assistance, it is their way of atoning for the past wrongs (afp)

Ramos-Horta has stuck to his guns about this in the face of growing pressure from UN staff and groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who want an international tribunal to try Indonesian war crimes suspects. Many victims also want to see the perpetrators in court, but Ramos-Horta, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for exposing the brutality of the Indonesian occupation, believes that no justice will come for Timor as a whole unless its relations with the wolf at the door – Indonesia – are settled and mutually supportive. This is an interesting take on international justice, and will be a defining feature of the final stages of Ramos-Horta’s long and remarkable career.

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