NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER
October 25, 1996
E.TIMOR BISHOP, EXILED ACTIVIST WIN NOBEL
By CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo of Dili, East Timor, and exiled East Timorese activist Jose Ramos Horta were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end oppression in East Timor.
Belo, 48, and Horta, 46, will receive the $1.2 million award at a Dec. 10 ceremony in Oslo.
The Nobel cornmittee, which announced the winners Oct. 11 in Oslo, Norway, accused Indonesia of persecuting the people of East Timor. The committee said the prize was given to
"spur efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in East Timor based on the people's right to self-determination."
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it as the country's 27th province in 1976. Many in East Timor do not accept the legitimacy of Indonesia's claim. The territory has endured 20 years of guerrilla warfare and human rights violations.
Belo, apostolic administrator of the Dili, East Timor, diocese since 1985, was celebrating Mass in Dili at the time of the Nobel annvuncement. Belo is the first Catholic bishop to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
"This is a recognition, not of me, but of all the people of Timor, for the Catholic church which works in Timor, and for all those who work for peace and reconciliation between people,"
he said in a statement issued Oct. l l in Rome by his order, the Salesians.
Bishop Daniel P. Reilly of Worcester, Mass., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Policy, called the shared pr ize "a cause for true rejoicing."
In congratulating Belo on behalf of the committee, Reilly extended
"our prayerful wish that this award may hasten the day when the people of East Timor can live in peace and security in their own land."
A spokesman for the Indonesian government expressed "regret" that the peace prize was given to Belo and Horta accusing the latter of "inciting and manipulating the people of East Timor."
Horta has worked for East Timorese independence since its years as a Portuguese colony. He fled East Timor three days before the Indonesian invasion, in which two of his brothers and a sister died, according to The New York Times.
Horta, who now lives in Australia and is a member of the law faculty of the University of New South Wales, said in a statement that he is "honored and humbled" by the award.
"I was already very confident that the next two or three years are going to be a turning point in our struggle because things are changing in Indonesia,"
he told Reuters. He said he hoped the award would show Indonesia
"that the people of East Timor have suffered long enough."
Muslim politician Jailani Naro, former vice speaker ot tne Indonesian House of Representatives, told the press in Jakarta Oct. 12 that Belo should reject the award to avoid being labeled an "opportunist" like Horta.
"I suggest Bishop Belo reject it if he feels he is an Indonesian citizen who really loves Indonesia,"
Naro said. Others have made similar suggestions.
But the bishop has said he is not bothered by negative views abuut Horta, adding that Horta was selected by the Nobel committee.
"I have no intention of rejecting the Nobel award. In the case of Horta as a co-winner, it is the business of the Nobel committee in Norway,"
Belo said at his residence Oct. 14.
"We must respect personalities and ideas of other people, including those of Horta "
"We cannot uphold peace and justice if we fail to respect differences in ideas. "
"Bishop Belo, CNS .... Jose Ramos Horta" - [pictures & captions]