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Xanana says he never asked to be transferred to Nusakambangan

MateBEAN - November 11, 1997

Jakarta - Xanana Gusmao told MateBEAN that he had never asked to be transferred to Nusakambangan, an Alcatraz-like prison island off the shore of Cilacap, Central Java as was stated by Thahir Abdullah a high-ranking officer from the Department of Justice

Thahir had many times remarked to the press on this issue. He said this to Media Indonesia newspaper a few days ago and repeated it to Kompas on Monday 10 November 1997.

"I am willing to make a written application for a transfer to Nusakam-bangan. In doing so, I can avoid to meet my comrade in arms who are usually using my name on their activities to support our struggle," said Thahir quoting Gusmao. However, Gusmao denied strongly Thahir's remark, "I never said such statement".

Gusmao was also denying his involvement in the activity of the so-called Brigada Negra, an elite military unit of Falintil. This brigade is being accused to be the organisation behind the making of bombs in Demak, Central Java. The military captured two members of the brigade in Dili and four other in Semarang.

Gusmao told MateBEAN that he can not resist the use of his name for East Timor independence struggle, regarding that he is still the Commander of Falintil Forces and the President of the National Council of Maubere Resist-ance (CNRM).

"I am responsible for all their activities, but I am not involved in the making of the bombs," Gusmao said.

Certain Indonesian human rights groups believed that Thahir Abdullah's statement was a political tactics to avoid criticism from international society when the authorities decided to banish Gusmao to Nusakambangan and make him difficult to communicate with his comrade in arms.