Habibie denies govt conspiracy

  • ASEAN+
  • Friday, 21 Mar 2003

JAKARTA: Former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie said yesterday that his government did not authorise the violence in East Timor in the run-up to the Aug 1999 vote on independence and described it as the work of criminals. 

East Timorese voted four-to-one for independence rather than autonomy despite a savage intimidation campaign by pro-Jakarta militias. 

Habibie, who in a surprise move had authorised the UN-organised vote, told a human rights court the bloodshed was nothing to do with his government. 

“There had never been a conspiracy to make the pro-integration (with Indonesia) camp win the referendum,” he told the court in answer to a question to judges. 

“I wanted to make sure that the vote was carried out as honestly as possible.” 

Habibie said his government decided to let East Timorese vote on independence because “we respect the universal values of human rights.” 

But he admitted that his own Cabinet initially opposed offering East Timorese the choice between autonomy or independence. 

The former leader, who stepped down in late 1999, said his government made systematic preparations to prevent violence. 

He described the bloodshed as “criminal action” and added: “I would have never justified any systematic attempts to violate human rights.” – AFP  

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