KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO
President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
‘Threats and Responsibilities’
Excellency, Prime Minister Goran Persson,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nowadays, when humanity is faced with sadness, with a climate of threats that do not recognize borders nor choose victims, I am grateful for this opportunity which Your Excellency, Prime Minister Goran Persson has given me to address this prestigious Forum. In April 2002, I had the privilege and honour to participate in the Conference on Reconciliation, Truth and Justice, an initiative of great importance to remind the peoples of the world that as we advance towards the future, ideals cannot be extinguished, to remind all the peoples of the world that peace - peace of mind and being at peace with others, is the supreme legacy of anyone who is human and that we cannot allow similar practices of the origins of humanity.
The beginning of the new Millennium, instead of instilling a greater trust between humans, revealed the brutal escalation of an irrationality, which is guiding the various actions of destruction ravaging the contemporary world.
Hatred and revenge have taken over the minds of the people and we are all witnessing a limitless intolerance, in societies and in the community of nations.
And it is in this context that the Stockholm International Forum, in its fourth and last series of Conferences, proposes to set a challenge to rulers and to peoples, to seriously and profoundly reflect on the theme of genocide, so as not to permit this to happen and prevent it from happening again.
I apologize for not having accompanied this Conference from the beginning, and hope that the reflections that I now make are not off track with the analyses that the distinguished entities have had the opportunity to debate here.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The genocide practiced throughout history reveal three causes: colonial expansionism, ethnic conflicts, including racism, and/or dictatorial regimes, with power being the common base that sustains them.
When we speak of power, we speak of politics, we speak of acts that politicians decide to take. Massive violations of human rights were always the practice of regimes which imposed repression through the suppression of freedoms.
In today’s times, we see more violence in sovereign and independent countries, where the conflicts are rooted in intolerance within communities or societies.
In some countries these conflicts are a result of European colonization which produced various independent but divided countries; these were often dramatic divisions based on ethnic grounds and resulting in the supremacy of some over others. Unfortunately, when this occurs, the most privileged ethnic group guarantees itself the ability to improve its resources, namely human resources, in order to remain in power and this has provoked social discontentment, which is the ideal setting to practice massive violations of human rights.
In other places of the planet, however, because of the division of the world provoked by the Cold War, both blocks sustained unscrupulous fascists regimes which killed, out of the need to maintain power and secure the systems in place. Today, the accusations are directed towards criminals in developing or under-developed countries, purely and simply neglecting the fact that they were once privileged allies, both of the West as of the East, and to which aid was given and guaranteed, as they were considered highly necessary.
It is within this basis of analysis that we should look at genocide practiced in various parts of the world.
It is within this basis of analysis that we should understand the threats that still hover over some peoples or ethnic groups. The new millennium should be able to eliminate these threats. And this is the great challenge of the future.
There is still little commitment to democratic values from politicians and those governing developing countries, so as to allow for societies to assume with responsibility the principle of tolerance and mutual respect and owing respect to the primacy of law.
Ladies and gentlemen,
What is important to stress here at this Forum? It is the need to prevent new genocide and new incidents of ethnic cleansing.
One of the best ways to prevent future acts of mass killings is the enforcement of Justice to those who practiced crimes against humanity. It becomes necessary to correct and order the mentality of people and above all, of those who hold power. We cannot allow those who usurp or acquire power to look at other humans as animals for slaughter, as elements of the lower class who have no right to enjoy freedom and above all, who have no right to life.
Much is spoken about the Millennium Goals, as a reason of being for the existence of nations in this era of great advances in technology and science, in which we cannot allow that a majority of the planet’s population continue to suffer from hunger, misery and disease. Is this the idealism of the globalization era? I think that it is not.
I agree that some States, Governments and politicians understand this great social injustice, but I believe that there is a firm commitment on the part of business magnates to look exclusively at gains, at money, and lose the notion that these profits arise from the suffering of millions of people. There should be a better sense of social responsibility, in the business field, and a moral responsibility to contribute to the peaceful environment of countries in need of change or recovery.
Many come to appeal also for the need for world peace, precisely because it has still not been possible to put an end to war or wars.
For all this, I firmly believe that only when societies and peoples assume democratic principles and make good use of democracy, will there be greater respect for Human Rights. It is common to hear that democracy and human rights are Western values, to which the peoples of developing or under-developed countries are not obliged to accept. However, in these very countries, imported luxurious cars and sophisticated weapons never carry the label of western products for they would be shunned.
We live in an era of consumerism, in which power and pomp blind the people, making them lose the sense of humanity and of respect for other human beings. We live in an era in which egotism and individualism have replaced solidarity and the social spirit, which the people should feel an integral part of. In some societies, to kill is a religious duty; to kill constitutes an ideal and it is a pity that this continues to occur in this Millennium.
There is a need to look at a Reconciliation of minds in the world, between societies, religions and peoples. Hatred and the demands for revenge cannot continue to escalate. Reconciliation emerges as a pragmatic option, in divided societies as people learn to accept each other and to coexist.
There is a need to foster a culture of tolerance at the heart of a society with differences, there is need to pay attention to better social justice and to the distribution of national wealth, so that everybody feels part of the development process of the country.
There is need for strengthening civil society so that control can be exercised over those who are in power. There is need to impress a commitment for the rule of law so that justice becomes the element that inspires trust to all society. There is need to achieve a good and clean governance, so that people believe the democratic process.
The development of the country should not be dictated by those in power, and must be a process with the intervention and participation from everybody. To achieve this, there is a need for people to feel they are included in the entire process. If the people were to be kept apart of the processes, merely depending on what those in power and magnates decide, sooner or later, the frustration and discontentment gain ground and begin to manifest in acts of violence.
Only democratic systems can make way for freedom of the press, freedom of speech, organization and assembly.
The challenge placed here is the effort that needs to be made from within societies to transform this world. We all have this duty, from the rich countries to the poorest.
Ladies and gentlemen
Meanwhile, learning from recent lessons, where the international community was not able to prevent cases of ethnic cleansing from happening, I agree with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s suggestion that we explore new ideas.
Although I see the importance of the need to form a Committee and Special Rapporteur on the Prevention of Genocide, I believe that there must also be a greater effort, on the part of all the nations, to undertake immediate mediation in the sense of facilitating and stimulating dialogue and direct contact between conflicting parties, where the objective is precisely to prevent violence from escalating into genocide.
I believe that the International Community already has in its hands the instrument to intervene in cases of mass murder, as it has already understood the responsibility to protect fellow human beings. This is what occured in Timor-Leste in September 1999, with the intervention of the multinational force, INTERFET.
We can change the world. Peace is possible in the world! If peace exists in the minds of the people, there will be no more conflicts; if there is peace in societies there will be no more wars and if there is peace in the world, we can be absolutely certain that there will be no more genocide! Humanity needs peace and for this, humanity needs courage from the leaders of the world to build peace. On behalf of the people of Timor-Leste, I welcome and support the Forum 2004 Declaration presented today, as a firm commitment towards concretely addressing this important global concern and desire to prevent genocide.
Thank you very much.