Three of Horta's bodyguards were arrested yesterday by Oxford police and held in a cell in St Aldate police station after being caught beating up Ahmad Hanif, an Indonesian student, in the forecourt of St Anthony's College, Oxford University. One of them needed medical treatment because his finger was bitten by Hanif as he tried to defend himself.
Jawa Pos correspondent, Djoko Susilo, reported last night that this incident occurred after Horta was defeated in a debate with Indonesian students at the highly prestigious Oxford Union Debating Society. The debate about East Timor took place on Monday evening This was part of a tour being made by Horta; earlier he failed to win the sympathy of the public in Cardiff (South Wales).
In choosing to go to Oxford, Horta was hoping to conquer the very well-known centre of intellectual thought but his meeting was only attended by fifty people, some of whom were Indonesian students. These students were led by Ahmad Hanif from Surabaya, an official from the state oil company Pertamina who is doing a doctoral course in Chemistry in Oxford. They succeeded in demolishing Horta's arguments.
Probably because Horta had been such a failure and felt very ashamed, his bodyguards were livid with anger. They were unable to attack Hanif and his friends on Monday night because of the tight security so their criminal intentions exploded on Tuesday at 4,45pm as the Indonesian students were about to attend a public lecture to be given by Horta at St Anthony's.
According to Hanif, he was just going to the car park together with Octavianus Kristiantoro, a lecturer from the Faculty of Technology, Atmajaya, Yogyakarta who was also going to attend Horta's lecture. They didnt realise that they were being followed by four East Timorese who were escorting Horta. On the way to the car park, Kristiantoro went to the toilet so his missed being beaten. 'They tried to push down the lavatory door but couldn't open it,' said Kristiantoro who was recently elected to chair the Indonesian Students Association branch in Cardiff. Unable to attack him, they turned on Hanif who was just getting into his car.
'You're the one who disrupted the meeting yesterday,' they yelled at Hanif, as they began to attack him. This small-bodied man, taken by surprise, tried to protect himself. But under blows from the four men, he fell to the ground and they stamped on his face.
'I was only trying to defend myself and I managed to bit the finger of one of them,' said Hanif. He wasn't able to recognise his attackers as it was getting dark in Oxford. He was then rushed to hospital. The police were contacted by University security and arrived on the scene soon after, when they arrested three of the four who had attacked Hanif. They were handcuffed and taken to the police station where they are still being held in a cell while awaiting their proces verbal.
Hanif was taken to St Redcliffe Hospital for treatment and a check-up by a doctor. He will press charges against Horta's bodyguard for their criminal actions against him.
The Indonesian embassy in London received a report of the incident and sent Asyraf Rahman, head of consular affairs, to investigate the incident. He told Jawa Pos correspondent that he would do everything possible to assist Hanif in pressing charges against Horta's bodyguards.
[Another Indonesian and Rogerio Pereira are also quoted as condemning the actions of the East Timorese.]
Terror and intimidation were clearly used during the public lecture in Oxford. While Horta was speaking from the podium, other members of Fretilin who have not yet been arrested by the Oxford police terrorised the Indonesian students who were present. They were led by Arsenio Sequera Costa, who comes from Oecusse.
'How many of you are there. There are plenty of us as well. If necessary, let's meet someone and have a fight,' Arsenio shouted to the Indonesians in the lecture hall.
Because of this act of terror, the Indonesian embassy has asked the police in Oxford to protect Indonesians from such terror.
Indonesian embassy statement:
The Indonesian embassy in London received a report on 2 December from an Indonesian student in Oxford, Odo Manuhutu about the beating and torturing of a friend of his, who was about to attend a lecture on East Timor to be given by Ramos-Horta.
His colleague was beaten up by four persons believed to be sympathisers of Ramos Horta. Just before the lecture was due to start, the student went out of the hall for something and was followed by four persons, all thought to be Horta sympathisers. After a brief conversation, the four set about beating him, as a result of which he had to be rushed to hospital for treatment. He was discharged from hospital later that evening.
The embassy sent a consular official to Oxford to undertake investigations and to seek protection for the persons in question.
The consular official was told that three of the four persons had been arrested by the police and that after questioning, they were released.
Further details about those responsible and the incident are not yet available because it was outside office hours. The police asked the student who had been beaten to return to the police station the next day to give further details of the incident. On this occasion, he will be accompanied by an embassy official.
This unfortunate incident was witnessed by a security official and was captured on closed circuit TV.
It is greatly to be regretted that violence was used by persons thought to be sympathisers of Horta during an academic lecture at which the principle of the freedom of expression should have been upheld, and considering that the event was said to be in the interests of peace.
London - December 3, 1997