CNRM (National Council of the Maubere Resistance)

CNRM (National Council of the Maubere Resistance) The CNRM is the top organization of the Timorese resistance. It's members coordinate the actions both inside East Timor (through the FALINTIL, the East Timor National Liberation Army) and outside East Timor (through the external CNRM representatives in Australia, Europe and America).
Click here to read CNRM's Peace Plan for East Timor and here to view the contacts of some of those representatives

An Introduction to the National Council of the Maubere Resistance

The East Timor problem
The territory of East Timor, a Portuguese colony for over 400 years, is located on the fringe of the Indonesian archipelago, between Southeast Asia and Australia in the vicinity of the South Pacific. It is at least equal, if not larger, in size and population than some 30 independent member states of the UN. East Timor has been the scene of a major and tragic conflict since 1975. In that year Indonesia invaded this 18,889 square kilometre territory, maintaining to this day its illegal presence in defiance of international condemnation, including United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The armed forces of the large Indonesian Republic maintain a war of genocidal proportions, in a futile attempt to crush the resistance of most sectors of the approximately 700,000 East Timorese. Massive human rights violations have caused the death of over one third of the population. Resistance against Indonesian occupation remains strong as international support for the cause of freedom and self-determination of the East Timorese people grows.

C.N.R.M. origins and composition
The East Timor-based National Council of Maubere Resistance, CNRM, is the supreme organisation of all East Timorese nationalists struggling for self- determination and independence. CNRM was created in 1988 by Resistance Leader Commander Xanana Gusmão as a unifying non partisan body bringing together the East Timorese political forces, the National Liberation Forces, Forças Armadas de Libertação Nacional de Timor-Leste (FALINTIL), and all the underground East Timorese political resistance groups operating in East Timor and Indonesia.

From its creation in 1975 until 1987, Falintil was the armed wing of Fretilin. It led the national war of liberation until 1979. After 1979, and in particular after the reorganisation of the resistance in 1981, traditional East Timorese political parties lost their pre eminence to an all encompassing movement of national liberation. In 1987, aiming to consolidate national unity, reflecting the true nature of the Resistance, Xanana Gusmão announced Falintil as a national liberation army not linked to or dominated by any single party.

CNRM has thus emerged as the organisation embodying all currents of East Timorese nationalism, and the chief vehicle through which it is expressed, both inside East Timor as well as in the international diplomatic arena. It brings together the leadership of the Resistance Armed Forces in East Timor, the Political Front inside Indonesia and occupied areas, and the Diplomatic Front operating overseas. Participation in CNRM is open to all East Timorese nationalists seeking self determination and independence, regardless of any political party affiliations they may also hold. Leadership Structure CNRM's leadership inside is grouped into the Executive Council of the Struggle/Armed Resistance and the Executive Council of the Struggle/Clandestine Front. The first is made up of three members of the Chief-of-Staff of Falintil, and two from the Directive Commission of Fretilin; it is chaired by Nino Konis Santana, Commander-in-Chief of Falintil. The second is made up of five members of the Political Front; given the nature of the struggle and of the Indonesian governing regime, its operations are clandestine. Commander Xanana Gusmão, captured in late 1992, remains the titular head of the Resistance.

The chief mission of CNRM is to lead the resistance against Indonesian occupation and enable the East Timorese people to freely determine their future in accordance with their internationally acknowledged human right of self-determination. Simultaneously to the conduct of East Timorese resistance activities, CNRM is attempting to develop the governing institutions of a future state of East Timor. Inside East Timor and Indonesia, CNRM is supporting the development of the human resources required for a future administrative bureaucracy; undertaking measures to protect the culture and language of the country; and monitoring the human rights situation and informing on violations. Overseas, CNRM is leading a diplomatic struggle aimed at achieving, within the United Nations framework, a peaceful resolution of the East Timor issue in a manner reflecting the aspirations of the majority of its people and acceptable to the international community.

Organisational structure overseas
The resistance outside East Timor is led by Jose Ramos Horta, appointed CNRM Special Representative in 1990. He has full authority and competence to deal with all matters affecting the national resistance of the East Timorese people abroad. José Ramos Horta is assisted by two Special Assistants, and two Executives plus a Media Liaison Officer in in his Executive Office. The Departments CNRM has set up, or is in the process of creating, are: International Relations; Community Relations, Social and Religious Affairs; Education and Culture; Documentation and Information; Administration and Finance. Autonomous bodies are: East Timor Centre for Human Rights Information, Education, and Training; and East Timor News Agency. As present resource limitations are overcome and more human and material resources become available, these organisational components will be developed further and additional organs required for the functioning of CNRM will be added. Proposed additions include an advisory Eminent Persons Council, comprising some East Timorese elderly, traditional leaders, intellectuals and religious etc.

CNRM Representatives in key locations in the world report to the International Relations Department. These missions include Australia, Canada , Europe, Portugal, South East Asia, and the USA. Additional Representations are soon to be opened. CNRM fund-rasing efforts are centralised through the Executive Office. East Timorese Culture is promoted and advanced through the Education and Culture Department. Members run a Tetum language school in Australia. The Centre for Documentation and Information stores documentation available to researchers, publishes Mate-Bian News on a monthly basis, and performs daily news postings on electronic media conferences such as reg. easttimor and reg.indonesia. The Centre for Human Rights Information, Education and Training monitors human rights, disseminates information, and provides training in available mechanisms and human rights norms and humanitarian law. CNRM policies for an independent East Timor Aware of the country's location, CNRM believes in close and harmonious relations with all neighbouring states in Asia and the South Pacific. The independent Republic of East Timor will seek membership of both ASEAN and the South Pacific Forum. Close ties with Portugal will also be maintained, given the high moral standing it has shown through its abiding commitment to East Timorese self-determination.

East Timor is at the crossroads of three major cultures and religions: Melanesian, binding its people to the South Pacific; Malay-Polynesian, as many East Timorese trace their roots to Southeast Asia; and, European, a result of the four centuries of Portuguese- Catholic presence. This influences give the East Timorese nation-state a distinct character. It could be a valuable partner for ASEAN and South Pacific Forum member states in their relations with the European Union, Africa and Latin America. The majority of East Timorese exilees are resident in Australia and Portugal. They could contribute to the bridging role of East Timor between their adopted countries and Southeast Asian and South Pacific states .

CNRM envisages an independent Republic of East Timor without a standing army . External security will rely on a Treaty of Neutrality, guaranteed by the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. Working with its neighbours and the UN, East Timor will endeavour to declare the country's surrounding seas a Zone of Peace, and to work towards demilitarisation of the Southeast Asian and South Pacific regions. CNRM aspires to a strong democratic state based on the rule of law, emanating from the will of the people expressed through free democratic elections. Development of a free information media, as independent as the judiciary, will be encouraged. Firmly believing in the universality of human rights, transcending state boundaries and prevailing over state sovereignty, an independent East Timor will contribute to the strengthening of the UN human rights machinery. The creation of an international human rights court and a penal court to try war crimes and crimes against humanity will be actively supported. All human rights treaties will be submitted to the East Timorese Parliament for ratification.

Free education and health care are essential for the welfare of the population. Significant investments in these areas will be required, as part of human resource development. The money saved from not supporting a standing army will be well used in these areas. A healthy, sane and happy society cannot be based on hatred and revenge. Therefore a general amnesty and national reconciliation will be proclaimed, aimed at forgiving current enemies. Because of its credibility and standing over the past twenty years, the East Timor Church will be expected to play a major role in the social healing process. The issues of resettlement for the many thousands up-rooted throughout the last two decades, as well as compensations for properties lost will need to be addressed. Also, over 100,000 Indonesians have settled in East Timor, many of them looking for a better life. Those who are willing to abide by East Timorese laws and live in harmony as members of the society will be welcome to stay and join in building a better future for everyone. The wealth of their culture could be an enriching contribution to the future of East Timor.

East Timor is potentially self sufficient in most agricultural goods, meat and fish. It has large oil reserves and other minerals. After independence, economic resources will be channelled into food production for the population. Government policies will be a result of close consultation with the people in each region, town and village. The cooperation of UN Specialised Agencies will be sought. A reforestation program to save the badly damaged environment will be launched together with international bodies. International partnership in mineral explorations such as oil will be sought. However, the environment must not be sacrificed for short term gains. The 'Timor Gap Treaty' will be looked at, clarification sought, and renegotiated. The sea boundary dispute will have to be settled through an international tribunal.

East Timor Peace Plan

Consistent with the enhanced peace making role of the United Nations, CNRM has advanced a plan to assist the UN Secretary General's mandate to find a solution to the East Timor conflict. The plan is congruous with statements by East Timor Catholic Church leader Bishop Belo, and consistent with current UN and Portuguese approaches. The plan has also received support in the US Congress, Europe, Canada and Japan. Indonesia's friends have been able to perceive its value as a potential means of assisting Jakarta to conveniently extricate itself from its East Timor quagmire.

Phase One (one to two years): Indonesia-Portugal talks under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, with East Timorese participation, to achieve an end to armed activities in East Timor; release of political prisoners; reduction of Indonesian military personnel; removal of armaments; expansion of International Committee of the Red Cross activities; reduction of Indonesian civil servants; population census; access by UN Specialised Agencies for restoration and protection of the environment, resettlement, district development, women and children care and public health and immunisation; restoration of all basic human rights, removal of restrictions on Portuguese and Tetum languages; setting up of an independent Human Rights Commission; appointment of a UN Secretary General Resident Representative in East Timor.

Phase Two -autonomy- (five years): This is a transition stage of autonomy in which East Timorese would govern themselves democratically through their own local institutions. This would require: Democratic election of a local Assembly with a five-year mandate under UN supervision and assistance. Only East Timorese may vote and be elected; election of an East Timorese Governor for a five-year term by the Assembly; Assembly powers would include, among others, legislation concerning international trade relations, investment, property, and immigration; withdrawal of all Indonesian troops and further reduction in Indonesian civil servants; a UN-organised territorial police force, placed under the command of the Governor, the territory is to have no army. Phase two may be extended by mutual consent between Indonesia and the East Timorese population expressing its views through a referendum.

Phase Three -self-determination-: Covers preparation for a self- determination referendum, to be held within one year of the commencement of this phase, whereby the population may choose between free association or integration into Indonesia, or independence.

CNRM Addresses

*Special Representative mobile telephone: +61 419 273700

*International Relations Department GPO Box 2155 Darwin NT Australia 0801 tel: +6189 855678 fax: +6189 855622 e-mail: Director General e-mail:

*Information and Documentation Centre PO Box 481 Fairfield NSW Australia 2165 tel: +61 2 891 5861 fax: +61 2 891 2876 e-mail:

East Timor Human Rights Centre PO Box 93, Fitzroy Vic. Australia 3065 tel: +61 3 416 2960 fax: + 61 3 416 2746 e-mail: