“I could see it in his face”

The Consultative Group on the Past has received backing from the President of East Timor Timor-Leste, José Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former prime minister. He insisted that own country’s truth and reconciliation process excluded prosecutions and their absence has been criticised by the United Nations who remain in the country. He is also reportedly reluctant to pursue prosecutions in more recent cases. Here’s a lengthy report on the current situation. And as Kevin Cullen reports in the Irish Times he has also added some relevant truth from the past here.

He said he was living in exile in New York when he met a colleague who was deeply involved “on the military side” of the Timorese resistance movement. He declined to identify his colleague, but said he told him he had met members of the IRA and Eta while travelling in Europe and Africa. “The Basques and the IRA had offered us weapons and planning to strike at Indonesian interests abroad,” Ramos Horta said. “I was angry at my colleague. I abhor any deliberate attempt to harm civilians. I told him it would destroy everything I was talking about, the dignity of the person, and it engages us in terrorism. Secondly, it would be political suicide.”

Ramos Horta said he offered a variation of that same theme when he met Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams secretly in Belfast a decade ago. He said he encouraged Adams to seek a political settlement in the North, but found him less receptive when he told him the IRA was wrong to “abduct or hurt civilians”. “I could see it in his face,” he said of his meeting with Adams. “He was taken aback by what I said.”