Bishop Belo was characterised as "the foremost representative of the people of East Timor,"
The media, at that time was occuppied with the news coming from Vietnam where just a few months earlier Saigon had fallen to the Vietcong.
But as the Chairman Sejersted pointed out in his speech at the award ceremony,"of a population of six and seven hundred thousand, nearly two hundred thousand people have died as the direct or indirect result of the Indonesian occupation and the violation of human rights are still taking place". Sejersted called this " an exceptionally brutal form of neo-colonialism" and said that " considerations of realpolitik" enabled it to take place.
Such considerations dominated the policy of United Statestoward Indonesia. In Dec. 1975,President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited jakarta at the end of their Asian tour, to reassure the friendly States Cold war policy to maintain a strong presence in the area. President Suharto of Indonesia persuaded his American guests that newly Independent East Timor must be prevented from becoming a communist "Cuba." The very day after they left, Indonesian armed forces moved against East Timor, slaughtering defenceless civilians, using weapons which had been supplied by the United Stateson condition that they were only used for self-defence.