absence of justice is a fundamental obstacle

An interesting article in the Guardian on the reaction of East Timorese President, Xanana Gusmao, to the report by the nation’s Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission – established in 2002. Far from welcoming the recommendations it contains he has criticised the commissioners for their “grandiose idealism” and, according to the Guardian, “recommended that the 2,500-page document not be made public, implying that it would not be in the national interest to do so.” In relation to matters closer to home some quotes in particular stand out. See over the fold.
From the Guardian article –

The commission conducted scores of town hall meetings and took more than 8,000 statements. Aniceto Guterres, the commission chairman, told the Guardian that the majority of people they talked to wanted to see the perpetrators brought to justice and the victims to receive compensation. “That’s what we found; that people want justice,” he said. “We knew people weren’t going to like our findings and accept them but we didn’t work to make certain people happy, we worked to reveal the truth about what happened.”

Mr Gusmao said the commissioners had been almost irresponsible in their recommendations. “The grandiose idealism that they [the commissioners] possess is well manifested to the point that it goes beyond conventional political boundaries,” he told parliament. “The report says the ‘absence of justice … is a fundamental obstacle in the process of building a democratic society’. My reply to that would be not necessarily.”[all emphasis added]

  • BogExile

    ‘…he has criticised the commissioners for their “grandiose idealism.’

    My criticism of the framers of the OTR legislation and amnesty process is far from grandiose idealism, they have exercised grubby cynicism.

    Idealistic politicians would understand that this is not simply a post-colonial laboratory where the subjects will simply eat any shit they are given continuously no matter how outrageous and repulsive the fare.

    Grandiosity confers some sort of vision beyond the short term terror of the IRA revisiting part of London to punish this repulsive set of charlatans for not rolling over fast enough.

    The report is bang on when it says:

    the ‘absence of justice … is a fundamental obstacle in the process of building a democratic society’

    Except that the dogs in the street know we’re not building a democratic society. We’re stitching together a synthesised gangster series of Canton’s to feed Blairs statesman delusions. The decent people, as usual, fall through the cracks unnoticed.

  • Crataegus


    Well put.

    Political pigmies, sycophants and those obsessed with narrow self interest inhabit the corridors of power and hypocrisy is the current political currency. What matters on these islands is the threat of force, vested interests and money. There are lots of lessons for extremists of any ilk. Your average 9-5 with 2.2 children is irrelevant or at best secondary and victims are an inconvenient nuisance. There is no balance, no equality it is all rather sleazy; it stinks. Where are the visionary statesmen? What catalyst would it take to get some broader cohesion around a sense of the importance of plain decency and humanity? Nothing changes. To the victor the spoils.