Primary Sources 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives

José Ramos Horta's difficult mission

I am leaving here for Maputo in a couple of weeks and will be back some time in September for another round of the General Assembly. It is going to be tough. Indonesia has some 100 Ambassadors around the world who are persuading the respective Governments to abstain ... [1 August 1977]

A moderate in the Timorese nationalist movement that emerged following the collapse of Portuguese colonial rule, José Ramos Horta was appointed foreign minister in the Democratic Republic of East Timor Government proclaimed by the pro-independence parties in November 1975. Ramos Horta left East Timor three days before the Indonesian invasion to plead the Timorese case before the United Nations.

For the next 25 years he was the leading international spokesman against the Indonesian occupation and for an independent East Timor. Travelling widely for much of the time, he had the backing of a highly committed group of supporters in Australia, the USA and elsewhere, including David Scott, Director of Community Aid Abroad at the time of the invasion. Correspondence between Ramos Horta and Scott and other campaigners documents their activities in the early years after the invasion and their efforts to garner high-level support in a then largely indifferent world.

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