Horta is a Nobel Peace Prize-recipient for his role in initiating
a peace plan between East Timor and Indonesia. For nearly a quarter
century he was virtually alone, a voice in exile, working on behalf
of the people of East Timor.
is this event about for you?
was incredibly happy to be with so many American friends
from President Clinton down to the movie stars. But even more
than that I was overwhelmed by the experience of many of my compatriots
from other countries, of the world's fellow human rights defenders
from Egypt, from Cote D'Ivoire, from Kenya, from Palestine, who
each went through a lot of suffering. Going through that play
was very, very hard. One did not know whether to enjoy or to walk
out. It was very powerful.
will you take from this? Is it something that will engerize you?
It makes you angry about all the abuses that people inflict on
others, and that anger can be channeled into energy to fight for
justice wherever injustice prevails. It really makes one angry
that in this day and age, people are still tortured. Torture is
one of the most cowardly things because a prisoner is already
prisoner. He's there, she's there, defenseless. Torturing the
person is really so inhuman, so cowardly, so barbaric. I do not
know how one human being can torture another.
do you see the human rights struggle and your struggle in East
Timor? Are we moving forward? Are we still fighting the same battles?
was President Clinton tonight who said, "Who would have thought
five years ago that East Timor could be independent today."
My country is one of several hundred thousand people, who, in
the face of overwhelming force used against it by a country of
two hundred million, attained the most impossible dream: to be
free, to be independent. All their weapons were not enough to
keep control of my country, of our people. The lesson from East
Timor is that nothing is impossible. If you dream, if you believe,
if you have faith, you fight on, you persevere. And this lesson
can apply to anyoneto countries but also to individual situations.
kept you going in the almost twenty-five years that you were in
few times over the years I felt like giving up. Everything seemed
to be so dark, so lost. But an inner voice, maybe an inner strength,
kept pushing me, telling me: do not give up. Do not betray those
who trust you. Do not betray those who are in prison, those who
are suffering. That's what kept me going. But also, I got inspiration
from the generosity from so many people abroadAmericans,
Europeans, Australians, Africans, all of whom had nothing to do
with East Timor, and yet they gave so much of their energy to
my country. That inspired us. People say that we inspired them,
but they inspired us. They gave me faith. They gave me the strength
of the things that seemed to be repeated over these last forty-eight
hours is the issue of complacency. Why should anyone be concerned
about human rights?
silence, ignorance,and indifference are the worst enemies of freedom.
Why did the Jews have to be slaughtered in the late thirties and
forties? Because of silence. Because of the indifference of the
rest of the world. Why did East Timor have to endure twenty-four
years of occupation? Because of indifference, ignorance, and lack
of information. I urge people anywhere in the world: you can make
a difference, particularly in this age of technology, of globalization,
of Internet, of global television. No tyrant can consider himself
to be an island. No country can be an island in this age of globalization.
Individuals can influence governments.
Is there a personal moment, an image, or sentiment that you will
take from just these few days?
there were many moments when I met some very humble people. One
of the very great things of this event is that there were many
unknown heroes. Not just Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Not well-known
entities, but people with even more courage than Ipeople
who suffered more, endured even more. It made me feel humble,
embarrassed, when I stood next to someone from Kenya, who went
to prison, who was abducted, who was almost dead. That, I think,
was the greatest experience for me.
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