[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
East Timor weighs reconciliation cost
Men blamed for post-referendum riots and now stranded in Indonesia find ally in Timorese president amid amnesty debate.
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2011 05:24

 

One year after elections, and 12 years after the riots that followed a crucial referendum, the central debate in East Timor, or Timor-Leste as the nation is now known as, is how best to maintain a still-fragile peace.

Armed groups were responsible for massacres in the wake of that vote for independence from neighbouring Indonesia in 1999 that claimed 1,500 lives and forced more than 250,000 - one-fourth of East Timor's population - to flee the territory.

Many of the men held responsible for the violence - former members of the pro-Indonesian militias - are still living in camps with their families in West Timor, in Indonesia.

Explaining why they have still not returned to East Timor, Eurico Guterrez, a former militia leader, says: "They threaten us: they say we shouldn't come back because we betrayed our country, that we chose to be Indonesian so we don't deserve to return home."

But these militia members stranded in Indonesia now have an unlikely ally: East Timor's president, Jose Ramos Horta, who has come out in favour of amnesties.

Ramos-Horta told Al Jazeera that the Timorese people should "let bygones be bygones", although many are calling for the perpetrators of the violence to be tried in court.

As Andrew Thomas reports from Dili, East Timor's capital, the big question now facing the young country is: Justice, no matter what the consequences, or integration, whatever the cost?

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
New report highlights plight of domestic helpers in the United Kingdom, with critics comparing it to kefala system.
join our mailing list