Raise Your Voice on Behalf of East Timor
Open Letter to Chancellor Helmut Kohl

7th December 1997 – 22 years of occupation of East Timor by Indonesia, and one year after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Bishop Ximenes Belo and José Ramos Horta.
The Indonesia Working Group in Germany, missio and the Franciscan Mission Centre invited the Christian communities to send Christmas cards to Bishop Belo, on behalf of the people in East Timor and to protest strongly against the German arms sales to Indonesia.
On the 7th of December ecumenical prayers
were said for the people in East Timor in many, many churches in Germany. The following letter was sent to Chancellor Kohl:

Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl
Adenauerallee 141
53113 Bonn

Berlin, 05. January 1998

Dear Mr. Kohl,

Until this day more than 6,500 people have sent Christmas cards to Nobel Peace Prize winners Bishop Belo and strongly expressed their resentment against German arms sales to Indonesia. Numerous Catholic and Protestant congregations and communities, ecumenic and peace initiatives, Pax Christi, aid and charity institutions have joined the campaign. This was a joint initiative of the Indonesia Working Group, missio and the Franciscan Mission Centre. The postcards to Bishop Belo contain the following text:

Bischof Belo “…together with you and all the people in East Timor I hope and pray that your cause for self-determination and a peaceful and just solution to the conflict with Indonesia will soon become fulfilled true. Our unity in faith may give you strength and courage. I strongly disapprove of the German arms sales to Indonesia and I appeal to the German Government to give up further arms supply to Indonesia and to support the UN peace commitment for a solution to the conflict in East Timor. Merry Christmas and a peaceful new year.”

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize put East Timor briefly in the public limelight. It supplied the people of East Timor with hope and a new self-confidence. Since the award of the Peace Prize the situation in East Timor has drastically worsened. The Indonesian government sent more troops to the island. The people’s hopes for a dialogue with the Indonesian government were disappointed. After one year it became clear that a Nobel Peace Prize was not enough to create peace.

At a meeting with Bishop Belo, end of last year, you agreed to push for a peaceful and just solution for East Timor. However, there have not been any tangible results from these promises so far. Meanwhile the German government continues to deliver weapons to Indonesia thus supporting the Indonesian government and its unjust politics regarding East Timor. All demands even from the Nobel Peace Price winners, to stop the arms exports to Indonesia have been ignored so far.

Some months ago Bishop Belo said in London:
„As Bishop in East Timor, whose people have suffered terribly from the effects of armaments made in countries far from our shores, I appeal to the government of the United Kingdom and it’s allies, whose factories make a variety of weapons which are sold for use on land, sea and in the air, to consider the dreadful consequences of this so-called defence industry. Please, I beg you, restrict further the conditions under which such trade is permitted.”

The people in East Timor need more than congratulations for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: they need political engagement which presses the Indonesian Government to a peaceful solution to the conflict.

We are of the opinion that, the German Foreign policy still does not pay enough attention to the conflict in east Timor. We call upon the German government to change its policy on Indonesia and as a first step to stop the arms sales.

We wish you a successful happy New Year

Respectfully Yours

Dr. Monika Schlicher
Watch Indonesia!

Who is the Indonesia Working Group?
Facing the increasing export of arms sales to Indonesia and the serious human rights abuses in Indonesia and East Timor the Indonesian Working Group started its activities in 1994, initiated by a Christian campaign called ‘Production for life – Stop the arms sales!’ Its members come from Watch Indonesia!, IMBAS (The Initiative for Human Rights of all Citizens of the ASEAN Countries), the Ecumenical Working Group in the parish of Storman and the BUKO campaign ‘Stop the arms sales!’. The Indonesia Working Group meets four times a year to develop information material and suggestions for campaigns.

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