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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Jose Ramos-Horta

Interviewed January 8, 2010

The Portuguese– authorities on the island– packed and left. The international community decided not to do anything at all. The United Nations had a chance between August ´75 and December ´75, or even before. If the United Nations, if the Secretary General at that time, Mr. Kurt Waldheim, and others around him– when the Portuguese– colonial regime was toppled– and– had they had the wisdom and the– a sense of– commitment and– immediately offered to assist Timor Leste, maybe the Indonesian invasion could have– been prevented.

For three months, we tried to mobilize international support. It didn´t come. December 7, 1975, Indonesia invaded. Four days before– three days before, actually, I was– told to leave the country by my compatriots in the leadership. And I– did the journey towards New York. So, I arrive in New York already after the invasion to address the U.N. Security Council. The Security Council adopted a unanimous resolution condemning the invasion, calling on Indonesia to withdraw its troops from East Timor without delay.

It was a unanimous resolution, which was in itself a feat– a diplomatic fit for us. And I thought, with that– resounding victory in the U.N. Security Council, Indonesia, a respectable member of the international community, would comply with it and would leave Timor-Leste, and I will return in diplomatic triumph. Well, that didn´t happen. That was my first lesson in organized international hypocrisy. The same– members of the Security Council that voted on that resolution also ignored that resolution and– continue on business with Indonesia for the next 24 years. So, I had to wait f– 24 years before I finally return.