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East Timor News Digest 9 September, 1-30 2007
News & issues
Antara News - September 29, 2007
Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara Indonesia and Timor Leste still
have to settle the cases of 81 children who were separated from
their parents after the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
handed them over in 2005, a social services official said.
The secretary of the directorate general of social rehabilitation
and services at the Social Affairs Ministry, Suharno, said at a
coordinating meeting on social problems here on Friday "there are
still 81 cases of East Timorese children separated from their
He said the cases had become the responsibility of the Indonesia
and Timor Leste governments because the UNHCR had already handed
them over to the two governments since 2005.
The UNHCR handed over 107 cases of East Timorese children who had
been separated from their families when it ended its humanitarian
mission in the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara province
on December 5, 2005. Since then the two countries had already
settled 25 of the cases leading to the reunion of children with
Meanwhile, in 2006 Indonesia and Timor Leste had also been able
to reunite another child with its family so that there were now
still 81 cases left. "We hope the provincial government of East
Nusa Tenggara as the extension of the central government will be
actively involved in helping settle the cases," he said.
He said efforts to settle the cases were part of the ministry's
program for neglected children. According to data there are
2,815,393 neglected children in the country and 62,755 of them
are in East Nusatenggara.
This year the ministry allocated Rp3 billion in funds to tackle
the neglected children in East Nusa Tenggara and set a target of
tackling the cases of 2,300 of them.
It had also allocated an additional subsidy of Rp3.08 billion to
meet the basic needs of more than 3,769 of the children. "It also
plans to allocate more than Rp3 billion to handle the cases of
separated children in East Nusa Tenggara in 2008," he said.
Jakarta Post - September 11, 2007
Jakarta Secretary General of Timor Leste's Fretilin Party Mari
Alkatiri visited the Prosperous and Justice Party (PKS)
headquarters Monday in an attempt to foster relationships between
the two parties.
"We intend to build a close relationship with many parties in
Indonesia and we want to show the Timor Leste community that we
are able to overcome a crisis and return to normal life,"
Alkatiri told detik.com.
The former East Timorese premier was welcomed by PKS chairman
Tifatul Sembiring and was accompanied by five Fretilin members.
Alkatiri is scheduled Tuesday to attend a general lecture at the
Center for Dialog and Corporation among Civilizations.
News & issues
Indonesia, Timor Leste still have to settle cases of 82 children
Alkatiri visits PKS headquarters
Spy chief lied about knowledge: publisher
News & issues
Antara News - September 29, 2007
Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara Indonesia and Timor Leste still have to settle the cases of 81 children who were separated from their parents after the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) handed them over in 2005, a social services official said.
The secretary of the directorate general of social rehabilitation and services at the Social Affairs Ministry, Suharno, said at a coordinating meeting on social problems here on Friday "there are still 81 cases of East Timorese children separated from their parents."
He said the cases had become the responsibility of the Indonesia and Timor Leste governments because the UNHCR had already handed them over to the two governments since 2005.
The UNHCR handed over 107 cases of East Timorese children who had been separated from their families when it ended its humanitarian mission in the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara province on December 5, 2005. Since then the two countries had already settled 25 of the cases leading to the reunion of children with their families.
Meanwhile, in 2006 Indonesia and Timor Leste had also been able to reunite another child with its family so that there were now still 81 cases left. "We hope the provincial government of East Nusa Tenggara as the extension of the central government will be actively involved in helping settle the cases," he said.
He said efforts to settle the cases were part of the ministry's program for neglected children. According to data there are 2,815,393 neglected children in the country and 62,755 of them are in East Nusatenggara.
This year the ministry allocated Rp3 billion in funds to tackle the neglected children in East Nusa Tenggara and set a target of tackling the cases of 2,300 of them.
It had also allocated an additional subsidy of Rp3.08 billion to meet the basic needs of more than 3,769 of the children. "It also plans to allocate more than Rp3 billion to handle the cases of separated children in East Nusa Tenggara in 2008," he said.
Jakarta Post - September 11, 2007
Jakarta Secretary General of Timor Leste's Fretilin Party Mari Alkatiri visited the Prosperous and Justice Party (PKS) headquarters Monday in an attempt to foster relationships between the two parties.
"We intend to build a close relationship with many parties in Indonesia and we want to show the Timor Leste community that we are able to overcome a crisis and return to normal life," Alkatiri told detik.com.
The former East Timorese premier was welcomed by PKS chairman Tifatul Sembiring and was accompanied by five Fretilin members.
Alkatiri is scheduled Tuesday to attend a general lecture at the Center for Dialog and Corporation among Civilizations.
Canberra Times - September 8, 2007
The former head of the Defence Intelligence Organisation falsely claimed he did not know the flow of intelligence to Australian troops in East Timor had been deliberately cut, the ACT Supreme Court was told yesterday.
The barrister representing ACP Publishing, Bruce McClintock, SC, said Frank Lewincamp's statutory declaration that he was unaware the cut had been deliberate was false because he had actually known within hours.
The declaration was prepared for an investigation carried out in 2000 by the then inspector-general of intelligence and security, Bill Blick. Mr McClintock said Mr Blick, whose inquiry took two years to complete, did "a disgracefully bad job". He had accepted the organisation's false version of events.
It took his successor, Ian Carnell, considerably less time to discover the truth: that the cut had been deliberate and had been made by one of the organisation's officers.
Mr Lewincamp, still a senior defence official, is suing the publisher over two articles that appeared in The Bulletin magazine in April 2004. Among other claims, he asserts the articles falsely imply that he ordered the cut to intelligence to the Australian-led Interfet force in late 1999.
He claims the article implied he did so because of his personal animosity towards the force's chief intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins, and, by doing so, put the lives of Australian troops at risk. Colonel Collins, who has come to be seen as a whistleblower and has since left the army, attended yesterday's ninth and final day of the hearing.
Navy reservist lawyer Captain Martin Toohey, a former ACT courts administrator, attended every day of the hearing.
Captain Toohey investigated Colonel Collins's grievances against the army and the Defence Intelligence Organisation and upheld his positions on a number of key issues.
Almost all of his confidential report was published by The Bulletin. Mr Lewincamp is also suing Captain Toohey.
Mr McClintock said The Bulletin had been under a duty to publish the Toohey report, whether its conclusions had been correct or not, because it related to a matter of critical public importance. At the conclusion of yesterday's proceedings, Adelaide-based Justice Anthony Besanko reserved his decision.
Canberra Times - September 1, 2007
Roderick Campbell The Defence Intelligence Organisation's former director denied yesterday claims of a cover-up over a cut in intelligence to Australian troops in East Timor.
In the ACT Supreme Court, Frank Lewincamp, who left DIO in 2005, rejected claims that several of his staff had perpetrated a serious cover-up when they failed to tell an official inquiry that a 24-hour cut in intelligence had been a deliberate policy decision and not because of technical problems.
Only one of the three senior officers mentioned, IT manager Steve Hanson, had known the technical problems response had been wrong. Mr Lewincamp agreed it had been a serious failing by Mr Hanson not to inform the inquiry, headed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Bill Blick.
Mr Lewincamp, a senior defence official, is suing The Bulletin magazine for defamation over two articles published in April 2004.
Among other things, the articles implied that the cut to the flow of intelligence to East Timor had been deliberate and ordered by Mr Lewincamp because of his dislike of whistleblower, Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins, the senior intelligence officer with the United Nations East Timor force.
Claims that this had put the lives of Australian military personnel at risk was described by Mr Lewincamp as nonsense.
Counsel for The Bulletin, Bruce McClintock, suggested the DIO's failure to tell the Blick inquiry the truth ultimately led to misleading the Australian people, in letters to newspapers and a letter from Prime Minister John Howard to Colonel Collins.
Mr Lewincamp did not agree but said the failure by individuals to reveal what they knew had been serious. Mr McClintock said two further expensive inquiries would have been avoided if Mr Blick had been told the truth. Mr Lewincamp said, "It [one inquiry] could have been avoided if Mr Blink had found the correct cause of the cut."
He told Mr McClintock that he had been cautioned by the chairman of a Senate committee over a letter his solicitor, Ric Lucas, had sent to solicitors for reservist lawyer Captain Martin Toohey. The caution referred to standing orders prohibiting anyone from intimidating or threatening a Senate witness.
Captain Toohey, who is also being sued by Mr Lewincamp, held a controversial inquiry into allegations by Colonel Collins over his treatment and the handling of intelligence. His report was widely published in The Bulletin.
Mr Lewincamp claimed The Bulletin had argued for two years that its allegations were true, but had then abandoned its defence. The hearing continues on Monday.
Poted on East Timor List - September, 2007
[Andre Vltcheck interviewed Mari Alkatiri on September 13, in the Sultan Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. Alkatiri was the first prime minister of East Timor, serving from May 2002 until June 26, 2006.]
Q: What is the relationship status between Indonesia and East Timor right now?
A: The relationships are very good, although we still have some pending, minor issues that have to be resolved, such as assets and the land border. We hope that by the end of this year these issues can be resolved. And of course we have the Commission of Truth and Friendship working and we are waiting for the report on its findings.
Q: How much do you really expect from the Commission of Truth and Friendship?
A: I am already out of power and out of the government, so I can't really tell too much. But I think that if some truth comes from their work, it will be very important. Both nations need to know the truth. I also believe that the process of democratization in both countries will eventually bring solutions to the existent problems.
Q: But can some conclusion be reached given the fact that the people of Indonesia do not know what their own government and military did during the occupation?
A: That's exactly the point. Solutions will be possible only if both sides are informed about what really occurred. The path to the solution is the truth. People have to socialize; they have to understand. I think this is the main target. If achieved, then our two countries could start afresh. Whether to seek justice or to offer amnesty, that's up to the Commission to decide. In the meantime, both governments have to deal with this issue very carefully, in order to strengthen the friendship and not jeopardize everything.
Q: But we are not talking just about human rights violations; we are talking about genocide. One third of the population of a small nation either disappeared or died as a consequence of the occupation...
A: We still have the Commission working on the issue of the disappearances. As recently as last week I had a meeting with the Red Cross, and of course they are also working on this matter of the disappeared... This issue has to be cleared; there are still families whose members are missing. Their beloved fathers and mothers and other family members... But these things take time.
Q: How receptive is Indonesian military and government, and even the public? How receptive they are to take responsibility for the decades of occupation and its consequences?
A: I think this question has to be addressed to them. But I feel that they are moving in the right direction.
Q: When you meet members of Indonesian public do they know what happened in your country? Do they realize the scale of what occurred?
A: I don't think so... I don't think so. The general public does not realize the scale. And they definitely need to know.
Q: When you meet government officials here, and the next morning you read the local newspapers, do you feel that the issue is given objective and detailed coverage?
A: It is not easy for the officials here to deal with this issue, because Indonesia is still in a short transition time from one regime to another... and they need to deal with these kinds of issues very carefully. We have to understand this.
Q: Do you see some similarities between what happened in your country and what is happening now in Papua?
A: Yes, there is some resistance now in Papua. All of us know it very well. Aceh is over, but Papua is still facing the problems.
Q: Coming back to Timor Leste, where does your country belong to right now? You are negotiating with the Pacific Forum, you are improving your ties with Indonesia, and your relationship is strained with Australia...
A: This is the dilemma of a small country. We are in between two regional blocks and we really have to weigh our options. We applied to be a member of ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations], we are already members of ARF [ASEAN Regional Forum], but we are also benefiting from the status of observer at Pacific Forum. Unfortunately we can't be members of both. Yes, unfortunately; otherwise it would be easier for us. We feel divided. We would still like to cooperate with Pacific Forum, while being members of ASEAN. Maybe, one day, things will change and we will be allowed to be members of both.
Q: What is your relationship with Australia right now?
A: What I did when I was a prime minister was to defend the interests of my people. I did nothing against Australia. But some people interpreted defending the interests of my people as going against Australia. I was never against Australia, but I was elected a prime minister of Timor Leste and I had to deal with extremely complicated issues related to the resources vital to my country resources under the Timor Sea. I did my best to get as much as I could for my people. It's not a crime.
Q: There was a lot of arm-twisting on the part of Australia. In the end, a compromise was reached between the two countries. Are you satisfied with the conclusion?
A: Australia made a big effort to come to agreement with us. We are still not satisfied, because we think that 100% of the wealth should belong to us. But it's better to have 50% than nothing. This is the point.
Q: Did you ever feel that your country had almost no chance against such a mighty nation as Australia? Your country went to several international courts and bodies, seeking arbitration. Australia simply withdrew from the International Court of Justice's jurisdiction on the maritime boundary.
A: Let's be realistic. This is how the world functions. But you have to struggle, and attempt to do the best for your people. Sometimes when you do it, you create enemies. But you have to be courageous. I believe that if we had gotten into the court, we would definitely have won. I am a lawyer myself and had been consulting people from many countries. I was confident. But since Australia decided to withdraw from the court the international court is not like some domestic court you can't really appeal to the court if the other country doesn't accept its jurisdiction. Such situations are always in favor of the big powers, never of the small countries. They can only struggle, until the point when they realize that they are getting as much as there is to get under the present rules... and then they have to accept it.
Q: Internally, there is still a lot of disappointment and a lot of bitterness regarding developments in the country on the part of many FRETILIN members [Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor]. But where does FRETILIN stand now, what is its position in Timor Leste?
A: We still won the recent elections. We had five years of very difficult governance, because the situation we inherited was very complex. We had to start from zero, but some people didn't understand that we had no state, no institutions. Of course we had the Constitution and government an elected President and Parliament but the state as an institution no. We had to build everything from nothing, including the legal framework. Without having a real state, you cannot develop coherent socio- economic politics. This is the point. But it is very difficult to explain it to the people who have very high expectations from the moment of independence. To summarize, FRETILIN provided the country with extremely high expectations but we could not satisfy those expectations in a very short time. People fought for 24 years to get their independence. After they won it, it was impossible to achieve everything overnight. We had to build the nation and the state simultaneously.
Q: In your opinion, how successful was the process of building the nation and the state? Was it, after all, a success, given that it took place in such a short time?
A: Even with the crises of 2006, it was a success. Many things were done. We achieved very solid macro-economic and fiscal management. We created a legal framework and we gave the country functioning institutions. Everything was done based on the rule of law. And you cannot do this overnight. I still believe that in four years we achieved more than many other countries did in 10 to 20 years, especially when it comes to the efforts of state building. We inherited the country with absolutely no money. No a single penny belonged to us and at the beginning we had to work only with donor's money. Thanks to successful negotiations with Australia we have now our own budget. And suddenly it is easy to promise things to the people. But in 2002 until 2005 it was still impossible to make any realistic promise.
Q: With the revenues from oil and gas, how dramatic will the changes be in Timor Leste?
A: If the revenues are well managed, the entire social and economic situation will change dramatically. Now we are really able to respond to the needs of ex-combatants. They can receive a house, some pension. We are in the position to deliver.
Q: FRETELIN is historically a left-wing movement. When I discussed this issue with Xanana Gusmao few years ago, he was already moving away from the ideas of Marxism. But to what extent is FRETILIN still a left-wing, socialist force?
A: FRETILIN has never been a Marxist movement. As a movement and as a front, it tried to include everybody. And if you include everybody, you cannot be ideological. Secondly, who in 1981 declared FRETILIN to be a Marxist-Leninist party? It was Xanana himself.
Q: But then he denied it...
A: Exactly. Soon he realized that he made a mistake. Then he tried to change everything, just to show to the people that he was no longer a Marxist. Despite everything, the present-day FRETILIN is a full member of Socialist International.
Q: What does it mean practically, in Timor Leste?
A: Practically FRETILIN, as any other party that wins elections, has to tackle real problems poverty, and the need for better education and healthcare. Our Constitution promises free education and free healthcare. But the main issue is to eradicate poverty in the country. You cannot survive as a government if you cannot progress on these issues. Today, in Dili, they are discussing plans for the new government and it is already obvious that it will be nothing else than a clear copy of the plans implemented by my government earlier. They keep saying that they will change this and that, but in reality there will be no major changes, just continuity. The only difference is that they can now promise more then us, because they have funds.
Q: Where is it all going to lead?
A: We had already started to implement new policies in 2005 and 2006. We paid more attention to community development, ex- combatants, veterans, widows and orphans. As soon as oil revenues began to arrive, we increased the budget twice and now three times. And we started with the programs dealing with rural development. We also began the process of decentralization, with pilot projects in four districts.
Q: Education remains the main challenge.
A: From our population of about 1 million, at least 300,000 children and adults have to go to school, every day. It means that we need at least 6,000 to 7,000 qualified teachers. We got 300 teachers from Portugal and we are trying to get many from Indonesia. One problem we have is the language. Many people still don't speak Portuguese well, while their Bahasa Indonesia is degenerating.
Q: Despite all the problems your country is facing, do you remain optimistic?
A: Yes, definitely. Our entire country passed through very difficult period. All of us should learn lessons from the crises and try to resolve them politically. On the international level, we are squeezed between two giants Indonesia and Australia. We need to have good relationships with both. But with Indonesia it is not an option it is a must.
[Mari Bim Amude Alkatiri is the secretary-general of FRETILIN.]
Agence France Presse - September 12, 2007
Jakarta East Timor's new government will not last beyond two years because of mounting friction among its coalition parties, ex-prime minister Mari Alkatiri said in an interview published here Wednesday.
A new government headed by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao took office in August amid protest from Alkatiri's former ruling party Fretilin, which won the highest number of votes in June polls but not the majority required to govern.
Gusmao's party cobbled together a coalition commanding 37 seats in the 65-seat parliament, but Fretilin insisted it should have been invited to rule, sparking sporadic violence in the young nation.
"This government will at the most only last two years. If it can survive one year, it would already be a great thing," Alkatri told the Indonesian-language Kompas newspaper.
"There is nowadays a lot of friction within the alliance," Alkatiri said, alleging that resentment among parties in the coalition over cabinet appointments had sowed "the seed for a conflict."
Fretilin continued to view the government as unconstitutional, he said. "This government has to be brought down. There is no other solution," he was quoted as saying, adding however that "it will not be done by violence."
Alkatiri is currently visiting Indonesia to attend a private seminar and to hold informal meetings with several leaders, including Vice President Jusuf Kalla.
Alkatiri stepped down as premier last year after unrest on the streets among security force factions left at least 37 people dead and forced some 155,000 people from their homes.
|Truth & friendship commission|
Radio Australia - October 1, 2007
In East Timor, the Truth and Friendship Commission has wound up its public hearings. The joint Indonesian and Timorese Commission was established to uncover the truth behind the violence surrounding East Timor's independence vote in 1999. Indonesian troops and local anti-independence militia murdered over one thousand Timorese, raped countless women and ransacked the country before the United Nations intervened. The Commission was widely criticised as a whitewash, and was boycotted by the UN. Local people are also unhappy with the closed door testimonies given to the Commission and late last week held their own alternative meeting in Dili.
Presenter Karon Snowdon Speaker Jose Caetano Gutteres, founder of the East Timor Crisis Reflection Network
Snowdon: The CTF or Truth and Friendship Commission is supported by both governments of Indonesia and East Timor, but few others. The United Nations has branded it a whitewash and has boycotted its closed door meetings. So have community groups in East Timor. Jose Caetano Guterres runs a local network in the capital, Dili, and was the coordinator of a two day alternative Truth Commission running in parallel to the official one. He explains the opposition to the CTF hearings being held in Dili for the first time.
Gutterres: There are public hearings, they have a public hearing that was used by the CTF. It just promotes impunity, where the leaders try to defend themselves, to hide the truth, to try to manipulate the process.
Snowdon: Radio Australia's attempts to phone East Timor's co- chair of the Truth and Friendship Commission for comment were not successful.
The UN-backed Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation published its report in 2005. It took 8,000 testimonies and documented the abuses of the 25 years of Indonesian occupation up to 1999. East Timor's parliament is yet to respond to the report, which calls for the prosecution of Indonesian military leaders and in some cases Fretilin freedom fighters. The current Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, has never supported calls for justice against the perpetrators of the earlier violence, saying East Timor needs to keep friendly relations with Indonesia. The prime minister was among who gave closed door testimony to the Commission in the past week. Jose Caetano Guterres says his public meeting has attracted more than 150 participants, some from Indonesian NGOs. The meeting is calling for action on the 2005 UN report.
Gutterres: We want power of parliament for Timorese leaders to start debate on the report, because it has been in the hands of the parliament for two years, but nothing is happening on it for the moment.
Snowdon: And the Truth Commission is holding its hearings behind closed doors?
Gutterres: It's closed for the public, so we don't know what kind of testimony that they want to get. But I will say that I think this is political, so I don't think they are telling the truth and I think for their hearing, they invite leaders is just for political purposes. I don't know what kind of political outcome they want, but the victims and survivors still want justice. We can talk about friendship with Indonesia, but we want a friendship that is based on justice and the truth.
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2007
Ati Nurbaiti, Dili A former pro-integration leader told a public hearing here Wednesday that many Timorese civilians were forced by poverty to join pro-Indonesian militias.
"There was money," said Fransisco Lopes De Carvalho. "People didn't have to go to the fields, there was rice, it was very good," Carvalho told the fifth public hearing of the Indonesia- Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship.
Once they were in the militias, they were told they had an enemy: the independence movement. It was difficult to choose not to kill fellow Timorese as ordered, said Carvalho, founder of the Barisan Rakyat (People's Front) pro-integration militia.
If a person left the militia, he would die, Carvalho said. "If he did not want to kill he'd be given 'mad dog' pills," he said.
There were reports during the violence in East Timor of militia members being given drugs to encourage them to kill. "Then when you kill, you land in jail," Carvalho said, pointing to convict Johny Marques in the audience.
Marques, a former leader of the Alfa militia, testified earlier in the morning that he was under the influence of drugs when he led the killing of nuns and priests in Los Palos in September 1999. "I know I shouldn't have done it," Marques said, "but it was my body's reaction to the drugs. I felt hot, I was so bent on killing someone."
Carvalho drew laughter from onlookers as he dropped the names of Indonesian Military officers in his testimony. At one point, he said he never received millions of promised rupiah after signing a proposal to have civilians armed at a five-star hotel in Jakarta.
"Until now I have never received the audit report on the funds," he said, referring to the current practice of accountability in Indonesia and Timor Leste.
He also claimed to have received Rp 3 million from the former commander of the Wira Dharma Military Resort overseeing East Timor, Col. Tono Suratman. "It is a sin to steal and a sin to reject an offer, so I took the money, of course after making the sign" of the cross, Carvalho said.
Along with other officers Tono was acquitted by Indonesia's ad hoc human rights court of charges of crimes against humanity in East Timor.
Similar to the testimony of former militia leader Tomas A. Goncalves on Tuesday, Carvalho also referred to the distribution of weapons to civilians by Indonesian Military members and the provision of training.
Carvalho submitted a number of documents to the CTF, including certificates presented to militia trainees signed by then Udayana Military Command chief Maj. Gen. M. Simbolon.
He expressed confusion that East Timor's militias comprised not only former village security guards but also members of the Indonesian Military. "How come they were never punished?" he said.
Marques, who is serving a 33-year jail sentence, testified he carried out the murders without the knowledge of his civilian and military superiors, "who had all left before the murders".
However, he questioned why, "for the sake of friendship between the two nations, Alfa team members like myself are the only ones chased for accountability". The Indonesian government, he said, should be held responsible for the violence in East Timor.
Carvalho urged the CTF to recommend the violence in East Timor be handed over to an international tribunal, saying the judicial process in both Indonesia and Timor Leste had failed. "We want to be friends but no one is saying they are wrong," he said.
The CTF will review all testimony, research and documents before it completes its report in January.
Carvalho also asked that the CTF and both governments guaranteed his safety, saying he wanted to return to Timor Leste after years spent in Central Java. "Please accept me," he said.
Agence France Presse - September 26, 2007
Dili An East Timorese who was a pro-Indonesia activist during the tiny nation's 1999 independence vote said Wednesday that Indonesia's military should be held responsible for violence occurring then.
Fransisco de Carvalho Lopes, who now holds Indonesian citizenship, was the only Indonesian to testify at the fifth and final round of hearings of the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) here. Other sessions have been held in Indonesia.
The CTF has no prosecution powers but has a mandate to uncover the truth behind the 1999 violence that left some 1,400 people dead as Indonesian-backed militias wreaked havoc across the former Portuguese colony.
During Indonesia's 24-year rule, Lopes belonged to two pro- Indonesian groups that organised public figures backing Jakarta's administration, as well as the militias that unleashed the unrest when East Timor voted to break away.
"I think that all the people of Timor-Leste agree with what I say. That is, TNI (the Indonesian armed forces) must take responsibility for all unrest and the scorched earth policy in Timor-Leste," Lopes told journalists after testifying to the commission, referring to the nation by its formal name.
He said that as the military was only an organ of the state, the Indonesian government should also take the blame for the violence.
"I think that there should be an international tribunal... because the ad hoc tribunal was incapable of providing justice, and truth was not established," he said, referring to an Indonesian tribunal that tried several Indonesians over the violence but acquitted all but one. Justice for the 1999 violence "is what we, the little people, want," he said.
Both governments however have taken a reconciliatory stance since East Timor finally became independent in 2002. East Timorese leaders argue that good relations between the fledgling republic and its giant and more powerful neighbour are crucial to its future.
The United Nations has criticised the mandate of the CTF and refused to let its officials testify, saying it should not issue amnesties for those responsible for human rights crimes. The CTF commissioners are set to draft recommendations to Jakarta and Dili when this week's hearings end.
Reuters - September 26, 2007
Indonesia was responsible for the bloodshed surrounding East Timor's independence vote in 1999, a former pro-Jakarta militia chief told a commission set up to investigate the violence at a hearing.
Pro-Indonesian militiamen went on a violent rampage before and after the UN-sponsored vote that ended 24 years of Jakarta rule in the former Portuguese colony.
The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), which was set up by Indonesia and East Timor to promote reconciliation between the two neighbours, is holding a final round of hearings this week in East Timor to try to establish the truth about the bloodshed.
Jhony Marques, who was sentenced to 33 years in prison by an East Timor court, said that Indonesia's president at the time, BJ Habibie, and his chief security minister General Feisal Tanjung should be held responsible for the violence.
"All policies were made by the central government and the military chief in Jakarta," Marques, who led the Alfa militia group, told the commission.
"So the authorities, especially the Indonesian president and Menkopolkam (chief security minister), must be responsible for the murder in East Timor," he said. "It is not fair if we face justice but the key persons that I mentioned are free."
Marques said he ordered his men to attack a convoy of nuns and a priest in Lospalos district in 1999 and admitted that he was on drugs at the time. Eight people were killed and 300 women were sexually assaulted in separate attacks by his men and other militiamen, he said.
On Tuesday, a former district chief told the commission that before the vote he had been asked by two retired Indonesian generals who were cabinet ministers in 1999 to set up a militia to defend integration.
"We were invited by Minister of Information Yunus Yosfiah and he told us that Indonesia would give funds and weapons to those who supported integration," Tomas Gonsalves said.
He also alleged that then-transmigration minister, Abdullah Hendropriyono, who later became the chief of the national intelligence agency, offered money from his ministry to fund the creation of a militia group.
The United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese were killed when pro-Indonesia militias went on a rampage before and after the territory voted to break away from Jakarta rule.
Indonesian officials have told the commission that only about 100 people were killed. The militias, backed by members of the Indonesian army, also destroyed most of East Timor's infrastructure. Critics say the commission is toothless because it lacks the power to punish those found responsible for abuses.
Predominantly Catholic East Timor became fully independent in May 2002 after 2 years of UN administration that followed 24 years of Indonesian occupation.
Reuters - September 25, 2007
Dili About 50 people demonstrated in East Timor's capital today, calling for an international tribunal to try individuals who committed atrocities during the vote for independence from Indonesia in 1999.
The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), which was set up by Indonesia and East Timor to promote reconciliation between the two neighbours, is holding a final round of hearings this week in East Timor.
But critics say that the commission, which is meant to uncover details of the violence and human rights abuses that occurred as East Timorese prepared to vote, is toothless because it lacks the power to punish those found responsible for abuses.
Yesterday, the commission heard the testimony of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who led the nation's fight against Indonesian rule and who spent seven years in jail in Jakarta.
Protesters in Dili demanded that the commission be disbanded.
"The CTF only defends the criminals and stands in the way of justice," said Xisto da Costa, one of about 50 protesters who rallied outside the commission's office in Dili. "They don't hear the victims' voices," he said.
The United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese were killed when pro-Indonesia militias went on a rampage before and after the territory voted to break away from Jakarta rule. Indonesian officials have told the commissions that only about 100 people were killed. The militias, backed by members of the Indonesian army, also destroyed most of East Timor's infrastructure.
Today, a former district chief told the commission that before the vote he had been asked by the Indonesian military to set up a militia to defend integration.
"We were trained by General Prabowo in Aileu and we had weapons," Tomas Gonsalves told the hearing, referring to the former head of the Indonesian military's special forces, Prabowo Subianto. He alleged that then-governor Abilio Soares, who died this year, asked militia members to kill independence supporters and church leaders.
Predominantly Catholic East Timor became fully independent in May 2002 after 2 years of UN administration that followed 24 years of Indonesian occupation.
Jakarta Post - September 26, 2007
Ati Nurbaiti, Dili A Timor Leste government official who said he was once a "double agent" in East Timor's resistance movement and the Indonesian Military, claimed offers of financial aid and weapons were made by Indonesian generals to "pro-integration" Timorese.
Tomas A. Goncalves, a former local executive of the Apodeti political party and regent of Ermera, southwest of Dili, told a public hearing Tuesday that the offers were made separately by Yunus Yosfiah and A.M. Hendropriyono, in anticipation of the 1999 referendum to determine East Timor's future.
Goncalves, who said he was an "aide" to the intelligence unit SGI, part of the special forces in East Timor, also told the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) that Indonesian Military officers promised hundreds of weapons.
On one occasion, he said, "all honorary members" of the special forces were given a pistol and AK-47.
Goncalves said he also joined troops led by Yunus against East Timor's resistance movement in 1975 in Balibo, when five foreign journalists were killed. Yunus has denied any involvement in the deaths of the journalists.
He previously testified before Indonesia's Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) and Timor Leste's Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR).
The Dili hearings are being held in the former CAVR compound, which was earlier a prison. Similar to the CAVR hearings, snacks and a buffet were laid out but the CTF hearings have drawn far fewer people.
"I guess it's important but we don't know much about it," a driver, Leno, said. A resident said the people of Timore Leste were preoccupied with unresolved political and economic troubles.
Goncalves also testified that then transmigration minister Hendropriyono, who later headed the State Intelligence Agency, had asked whether the militia in Timor needed to be led by an Indonesian general. The minister also said that "funds from the transmigration ministry could be used for militias", Goncalves said.
According to his testimony, Goncalves has been acquainted with high-ranking Indonesian Military officers since 1974, when he asked then defense minister/military chief M. Panggabean whether he and other like-minded Timorese could be provided with arms.
He said he asked for Indonesia's help on behalf of Apodeti because "93 percent of Timorese were poor and illiterate".
Panggabean, he said, told him he could not be provided with arms and that "Indonesia had no territorial ambitions"; but would welcome Timorese "with open arms" if they wanted to be part of Indonesia.
Goncalves told The Jakarta Post he felt safe in testifying in Dili, while in Indonesia "I'm afraid I could be kidnapped". If he had not been a double agent, he told the hearing, "there would have been many other victims" in the conflict on both sides.
The hearing was disrupted by shouting from demonstrators outside the compound, who demanded the CTF be disbanded. "Justice is achieved through trial, not a political compromise," their banner read.
Voice of America - September 24, 2007
Chad Bouchard, Jakarta Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao testified behind closed doors Monday on what he knew about the unrest that accompanied East Timor's vote to separate from Indonesian rule in 1999.
Dozens of witnesses have testified in Jakarta and Bali about the violence, but this week's session, the fifth and final hearing, is the commission's first session in East Timor.
Indonesia and East Timor established the Truth and Friendship commission in 2005 with an eye toward reconciliation, but the panel does not have the power to prosecute those responsible for crimes.
The United Nations accuses Indonesia of employing militias that took part in arson and violence that killed hundreds of people following East Timor's vote for independence.
Associate Professor Damien Kingsbury from the School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia says Mr. Gusmao and President Jose Ramos Horta have long supported building ties with Indonesia.
"And their commitment to the Truth and Friendship Commission, I think, is evidence of that commitment to building a good relationship," he said. "Unfortunately, what that does, though, is that it means that issues of justice, of actual truth around the events in East Timor are not going to get a good airing. And many people in East Timor remain deeply disappointed about this."
Indonesia says only about 100 people were killed in violence surrounding the independence vote. No high-ranking Indonesian officials have been charged in connection with the killings and other violence.
In July, the UN said it would not take part in the Truth and Friendship Commission's hearings unless the panel rejected the possibility of granting amnesty to human rights violators.
Kingsbury says that although the hearings are a sign the two nations can put the past behind them, the commission will not satisfy the international community.
"The fact that the United Nations has said that it doesn't regard the process as credible means that there will be a long-standing international position that the issues concerning violence in East Timor, perpetration of violence by the Indonesian military, was never adequately resolved, and that this process did not contribute to any sort of resolution," said Kingsbury.
Mr. Ramos Horta had planned to attend the hearing in Dili, but canceled because of a conflicting trip to New York. Public hearings in Dili are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Jakarta Post - September 24, 2007
Desy Nurhayati, Jakarta The joint Indonesia-Timor Leste Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF) is scheduled to hold its final hearing today, which could see Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao testify, along with several other key witnesses.
In a statement made available to The Jakarta Post over the weekend, the CTF said that several people had replied to a summons and had agreed to give their testimony.
They are Thomas Acquino Goncalves, Rui Emiliano Teixeira Lopes, Teotonio Assis, Francisco Lopes de Carvalho, Jhony Marques, Jhony Franca, Marcus Baquin and Sancho Ramos de Reisureicao. However, the commission could not provide further details on their identities.
"Details about them, including their status, either as a suspect, witnesses or victim, will be explained by our co-chairmen prior to the session," CTF spokesperson Krishna Hanan told the Post on Sunday.
The fifth phase of the hearing, the first to be held in Dili, will run from Monday to Thursday and will be attended by commissioners from both countries.
Monday's hearing will be a closed session only attended by commissioners, with Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Timor Leste Armed Forces chief Taur Matan Ruak scheduled to testify.
Krishna confirmed that Xanana would give his testimony Monday during a visit by CTF commissioners to the prime minister. The commission has yet to confirm the schedule for Taur's hearing.
The CTF also questioned former president B.J. Habibie at the Habibie Center in a closed session on March 27.
During the open session from Tuesday to Thursday, the CTF will hear testimony from historical actors, alleged perpetrators, witnesses and victims.
Jamsheed Marker, the former United Nations Secretary General's special envoy for Timor Leste reconciliation, has also been summoned by the CTF but has yet to reply to the invitation. If Marker is absent, the CTF would once again fail to present a UN official in its hearing sessions.
In the fourth session on July 23, it failed to present five UN officials involved in the 1999 referendum that led to the bloody attacks by the Indonesian Military-backed militias on supporters of East Timor's secession from Indonesia.
The officials were former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, former head of the UN Mission for East Timor Ian Martin, former general prosecutor for serious crimes Siri Frigraad and former UN civilian police commander Allan Mills.
The CTF's investigation on the 1999 violence has not received support from the UN, which criticized the commission for providing amnesty for those who violated human rights. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has prohibited UN officials from testifying at the commission.
Many have criticized the CTF's performance and questioned whether its findings will have any credibility with the victims or the international community since no one has been found guilty.
Krishna said that during the visit to Dili, CTF commissioners would also visit Timor Leste's political leaders and government officials, including the attorney general, to obtain more documents in connection to the 1999 riots.
After the hearing, the CTF will also hold a workshop themed "Finding the Truth and Fostering Relationship" in an attempt to get input on how Indonesia and Timor Leste can promote reconciliation and the relationship between the two countries.
Agence France Presse - September 22, 2007
Denpasar East Timor's president on Friday brushed off a UN threat to boycott a commission charged with examining violence surrounding East Timor's 1999 independence vote, an official said.
President Jose Ramos-Horta met with members of the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) in his capacity as head of state en route to New York to attend next week's UN general assembly.
The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said in July that the world body would boycott the commission, which was set up in 2005 and has heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, unless it rules out recommending amnesties for rights crimes.
Such a move would involve it changing its terms of reference to state that it has no authority to recommend amnesties for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or gross violations of human rights.
"(Ramos-Horta) expressed his appreciation to the commission for its work so far and said he will not change the terms of reference of the commission," Indonesian co-chairman of the commission, Benjamin Mangkudilaga, told AFP. The president said the boycott statement was not an official UN stance.
Mangkudilaga also said he told Ramos-Horta the commission, which will convene in the East Timorese capital Dili next week to hear testimony there, had started drafting recommendations.
Ramos-Horta met with the commissioners on Friday as he will be away from East Timor next week, when the CTF's fifth round of hearings will be held.
The commissioner said more than a dozen people would testify, including Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and military commander Taur Matan Ruak.
The hearings have so far been held in Bali, where the CTF has its headquarters, or in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The CTF has no prosecution powers and was set up along the lines of South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Jakarta Post - September 22, 2007
Abdul Khalik, Jakarta With the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) due to hold its final hearing Monday, critics are asking if its findings will have any credibility with the victims or the international community.
"If it seeks forgiveness from Timorese victims then it will not get it because so far no parties or individuals have admitted that they are responsible or guilty.
"So, how can you say sorry if you feel you're not guilty?" an international relations expert at the University of Indonesia, Hariyadi Wirawan, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
He expressed fear victims and right activists at home and abroad would dismiss the findings of the commission because nobody had been found guilty despite there clearly being many victims.
The CTF is set to hold its fifth hearing in Dili next week. Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Timor Leste Armed Forces chief Taur Matan Ruak are due to testify on Monday. From Tuesday to Friday, the CTF will hear testimony from Timor Leste militia members, officials and victims.
CTF co-chairman Benjamin Mangkoedilaga said his team met Friday with Timor Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta in Denpasar on his way to New York for a UN meeting.
Indonesia and Timor Leste agreed to establish the CTF to investigate the violence that followed the UN-supervised independence vote in East Timor in 1999.
Violence blamed on militias backed by the Indonesian Military hundreds dead and forced thousands from their homes. Much of the areas infrastructure was destroyed in the upheaval.
Indonesia claims only about 100 people were killed in the violence before Australian troops arrived followed by a UN peacekeeping mission.
Both Indonesia and Timor Leste have set up parallel systems to prosecute those responsible for the violence. But UN reports have described their efforts as inadequate, with no Indonesian high- ranking military officers being punished.
CTF credibility was further put into question when in July the UN prohibited its officials from testifying for the commission.
Criticizing the commission for offering amnesty for those who committed serious crimes, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told UN officials not to testify before the panel.
The University of Indonesia's Hariyadi said parties and victims unsatisfied with the CTF's conclusions might try to set up a human rights tribunal similar to one in Cambodia to seek justice.
"An allegation that the CTF is merely being used to avoid some people being brought to justice has circulated among people. I think many have thought of seeking justice through a human rights tribunal," he said.
The decision by Cambodian authorities to arrest Nuon Chea, 82, the Khmer Rouge's top surviving leader, earlier this week has been seen by many analysts as having boosted the credibility of Cambodia's UN-backed genocide court.
An international law expert at the University of Indonesia, Hikmahanto Juwana, said that from the beginning the CTF was not focused on punishing perpetrators, but finding the truth to enable both countries to move on with better relations.
"We should respect whatever conclusion the CTF comes up with as we should see the CTF as a way to improve future friendship and relations between the two countries," he said.
|Balibo 5 inquest|
Sydney Morning Herald - September 28, 2007
Garry Maddox Anthony LaPaglia will star in a film telling the story of the five newsmen who were shot dead in East Timor in 1975.
Balibo, written by David Williamson and director Robert Connolly, is described as a tense political thriller that re-creates the events surrounding the shootings during the Indonesian invasion. LaPaglia will play another Australian journalist, Roger East, who was shot dead in Dili while investigating the deaths.
After Balibo was funded by the Film Finance Corporation, the star of Without a Trace and Lantana said yesterday that he was looking forward to working in Australia again.
Connolly, who directed The Bank and Three Dollars, is hoping to film Balibo in East Timor and Australia early next year.
Connolly declined to say whether the film would show that Indonesian troops executed the five newsmen or whether they were accidentally killed in crossfire. Previous inquiries, reports and a UN investigation have been inconclusive. The findings of an inquest into the death of one of Balibo five, Brian Peters, are due in November.
ABC News Online - September 17, 2007
The United Nations says authorities in East Timor have arrested five national police officers and two civilians over suspected involvement in arson attacks in the east during anti-government protests.
The national police's (PNTL) rapid intervention unit arrested seven people in Watolari and Viqueque at the weekend in connection with the recent attacks, a statement from the United Nations mission (UNMIT) said.
"Three PNTL officers were arrested on Saturday, and a further four people two PNTL officers and two civilians were arrested on Sunday," it said.
All seven have been transferred to East Timor's second city Baucau where they will face trial.
Anti-government protests, believed to be stoked by members and supporters of the former ruling Fretilin party, followed the establishment last month of the new government by a coalition of parties that excluded Fretilin.
Fretilin won most of the votes in the June 30 legislative elections but a coalition of parties that controls a majority of the 65 seats in parliament was asked to form a government by President Jose Ramos-Horta.
Green Left Weekly - September 19, 2007
The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance, is now calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Australian troops from East Timor. A meeting of the DSP National Committee resolved to investigate the prospects for building a public campaign around this demand. Peter Boyle, the DSP's national secretary, explained the reasons for this decision to Green Left Weekly
"Since May 2006, our position has been that the current Australian military intervention into East Timor unlike the intervention in 1999 which we campaigned for because it would advance the national liberation struggle in that country would not solve the underlying social and political crisis and marked a setback in the struggle.
"The current foreign military intervention was at the invitation of the then Fretilin government and then-president Xanana Gusmao, and it appeared at the time to have the support of the full spectrum of East Timor politics. Until now the DSP has acquiesced to that invitation and has not raised the call for the Australian troops to be withdrawn. However, this across the spectrum agreement no longer exists.
"We always recognised that Australian political and military intervention in East Timor is to maintain order in the region in its role as regional "sheriff" to the major imperialist powers, defending the general interests of imperialism and capitalism as well as its direct interests in the region.
"Unfortunately, the various factions of the East Timorese ruling elite, including Fretilin and the forces around PM Xanana Gusmao and President Jose Ramos-Horta, have been a willing partners to imperialism in the attempted but failing bureaucratic construction of a capitalist neo-colonial state. They share significant responsibility for a deep economic crisis that underlay the 2006 political crisis. If the new Xanana-led government continues along this path, these crises will remain.
"The factional breaking up of the East Timor armed forces, which was the immediate trigger for the 2006 political crisis, was a consequence of the demobilisation of the heroic national liberation movement that developed in the years under Indonesian occupation. The Howard government, which openly and vigorously supported the formation of a Gusmao-led government, has made no secret that it wants to speed up and complete this demobilisation. It also wants the government to continue to implement the neoliberal policies that have led to the greater impoverishment of the Timorese people.
"An Australian government that was truly friendly to the Timorese people would follow the Cuban example and send doctors and offer more scholarships to the Timorese instead of troops and police to protect the interests of the corporate profit-makers. It would help build homes and schools and other badly needed the infrastructure. It would pay serious reparations for the many years of Liberal and Labor government support for the bloody Indonesian occupation of East Timor and stop stealing Timorese oil and gas resources."
Reuters - September 11, 2007
Evelyn Leopold, United Nations The UN Security Council called on East Timor to refrain from further violence after mayhem erupted when independence leader Xanana Gusmao became prime minister last month.
In a statement read at a public meeting on Tuesday, the council emphasized "the need for all parties to resolve any disputes through exclusively peaceful channels and within the framework of democratic institutions."
Last month, President Jose Ramos-Horta appointed a coalition led by Gusmao after no single party won a majority in a June 30 parliamentary election.
The move triggered violent protests by supporters of the Fretilin party, which led East Timor's 24-year struggle against Indonesian rule. Fretilin had won most of the votes in the June election and claimed the right to govern.
East Timor's Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa, who addressed the council, said that the protests in two districts resulted in 323 houses burned to the ground, affecting some 6,000 people in the impoverished country of 1 million. This was in addition to some 100,000 people without homes.
The statement, read by Council President Jean-Maurice Ripert of France, called on "the people of Timor-Leste to refrain from violence and work together in order to ensure security."
The Security Council also reaffirmed "the need for justice and accountability" after Indonesia, a member of the council, deleted any reference to "past crimes." Compared to a resolution all 15 council members have to approve a statement.
A commission has been set up by Indonesia and East Timor to look into events surrounding the independence vote, which the United Nations is boycotting because it can recommend amnesty for serious crimes against humanity.
Human rights and Timorese victims groups have criticized the commission for not challenging witnesses and checking facts. They say the truth was being distorted, particularly by those blaming the United Nations for inciting violence when it organized the independence referendum.
In 1999, after Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia under UN supervision, rioters killed thousands, left few buildings standing and forced 250,000 people from their homes. The rampage was conducted by pro-Jakarta militia, with support of the Indonesian military based in Timor.
Australia sent in troops to restore order, replaced a few months later by UN peacekeepers in the former Portuguese colony that Indonesia invaded in December 1975.
Reuters - September 6, 2007
Tito Belo, Dili The United Nations mission in East Timor may be extended by another five years from 2008 to oversee the revamp of the young nation's fragile security forces, its chief said on Monday.
The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) was established in August 2006 to help restore stability and promote unity among Timorese after a wave of violence triggered by divisions in the security forces. The mission's mandate will expire on February 26, 2008.
"In February 2008 we will have to consider an extension of UNMIT mandate, depending on the evolution of the situation," UN mission chief Atul Khare said at a news conference. "My personal belief is that it will require three to five years for the restructuring of PNTL (national police), reforming the security sector, and for democracy to take root," he said.
President Jose Ramos-Horta has asked the United Nations to stay in the impoverished country for five more years after its mandate expires.
Khare said progress had been made by East Timor since last year's violence that killed 37 people and drove more than 150,000 from their homes. "However, challenges remain, the democratic culture and process still need to be nurtured and several complex problems still exist within the social, economic and political fabric of Timor-Leste," he said.
Violence erupted in several districts in East Timor last month when Ramos-Horta appointed a coalition led by independence hero Xanana Gusmao to govern after no party won a majority in parliamentary elections on June 30.
Khare said the presence of UN police and foreign troops had been instrumental in improving security but the post-election violence served as a reminder the situation was still fragile.
East Timor became independent in 2002 after a bloody vote on independence from Indonesia in 1999 and a period of UN administration.
Meanwhile, a commission set up by Indonesia and East Timor to look into events surrounding the independence vote will question Prime Minister Gusmao, Ramos-Horta and the army chief in Dili later this month, commissioner Achmad Ali from Indonesia said.
The United Nations estimates about 1,000 East Timorese died during the post-vote mayhem, blamed largely on pro-Jakarta militias backed by elements of the Indonesian army. Indonesian officials said about 100 people were killed.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 at the end of Portuguese rule and annexed the territory later that year, maintaining a heavy and sometimes harsh military presence.
Kyodo News - September 6, 2007
The top UN official in East Timor said Thursday the fledgling country that gained its independence five years ago remains fragile but is no "failed state" as recurring political turmoil and street violence have led some to believe.
"It is an emerging democracy, too young to be a failure," Atul Khare, specil representative of the UN secretary general for East Timor, said in a lecture at the Japan Institute of International Affairs.
Noting that the international community has "invested a lot" in helping East Timor become a viable democracy, Khare said the violence that paralyzed the country in April and May last year, leaving up to 40 people dead and displacing 15 percent of its population of less than 1 million, "did not nullify those efforts nor did it reveal Timor-Leste (East Timor) as a failed state."
Last month, East Timor was again shaken by unrest in the wake of the June parliamentary election in which no single political party won a majority. The violence was sparked Aug. 6 when President Jose Ramos-Horta announced the formation of a new coalition government that exluded Fretilin, the party that won the most votes.
The disturbances have included street fighting, arson attacks, tire burnings and roadblocks even attacks on UN police and the Australia-led international security forces.
The collapse of law and order stems from political rivalries, regional divisions, grievances among soldiers and police, and discontent among gangs of idle youth in a country where unemployment and underemployment is as high as 70 percent.
Fretilin, formerly the ruling party but now in the opposition, had refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and is seeking a new election by as early as February. It considers the continued presence of over 1,000 international troops illegal.
In light of East Timor's continuing difficulties, Khare wants the mandate of UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste which he heads to be extended by another five years after its expires next February as more time is needed for East Timor to build up a neutral and professional army and police force.
East Timor, he said, "will need the sustained support of the international community, including possibly through the presence of the UN peackeeping operation, till such time that a strong police force is built to support the sustenance of law and order."
UNMIT currently has over 1,600 UN police in East Timor mainly from Malaysia, Portugal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, backed up by over 1,000 international troops from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal.
Khare said one of the key underlying factors that led to the 2006 crisis was widespread poverty. "These are people who had a dream of independence but have not seen the promise of independence" in terms of jobs or any significant improvement in their living conditions, he said.
But while East Timor is the poorest country in Asia, with 80 percent of its people living on less than $2 a day, it is blessed with extensive offshore oil and gas reserves.
Khare said that if properly managed, energy revenues could provide the necessary budgetary resources to tackle East Timor's serious rural poverty and urban unemployment problems.
As of May, East Timor had accumulated over $1.3 billion in oil revenue locked in a special Petroleum Fund account in a bank in New York a figure that is increasing by more than $100 million monthly.
Eager to avoid other pitfalls of oil wealth seen in other developing, East Timor has followed the advice of foreign donors by placing the proceeds in the fund, which the government can access only following approval by the parliament.
While East Timor may now be "rich" in monetary terms, Khare said the absorptive capacity of its economy is still too low, so the benefits "are yet to translate into improved infrastructure, jobs, schools, health facilities and food security for the population."
Agence France Presse - September 13, 2007
Dili East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao pledged to prioritise security as he read out his plans for governing the tiny nation over the next five years to parliament on Thursday.
Gusmao said that although many issues needed urgent attention in the conflict-ravaged nation, in the short term his government would work to improve security and get thousands of refugees back home.
Unrest flared on Dili's streets in April and May last year between security force factions after protests by dismissed soldiers, with at least 37 people killed and some 155,000 people displaced. Most are still in camps.
Gusmao said his government would work "to be able to guarantee people who still live in harsh conditions in refugee camps that they can return to their homes and start their lives anew."
He also said that resolving an ongoing stand-off with rebel Alfredo Reinado and his followers some of the dismissed soldiers, known as petitioners would be a priority.
"We will study reports on settling the problem of the petitioners... and effectively solve the problem with Alfredo Reinado and his group and guarantee justice," he said. The former president, who was sworn in as prime minister after June polls this year, said he would also oversee an audit of public organisations in a bid to fight corruption and increase the performance of the justice system.
The former ruling party, Fretilin, has disputed the constitutionality of his government, leading to ongoing sporadic violence in the young nation.
Reuters - September 13, 2007
Tito Belo, Dili East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao pledged on Thursday to improve security and use funds earned from rich energy reserves to tackle poverty as he set out his new government's priorities for the tiny nation.
Sporadic violence has erupted across parts of East Timor since early last month when President Jose Ramos-Horta appointed a coalition led by independence hero Gusmao to govern after no party won a majority in parliamentary polls on June 30.
"Everything is urgent for this nation, we are defining priorities for the short term," Gusmao told parliament.
The appointment of Gusmao sparked violent protests by supporters of the former ruling party, Fretilin, which claims the right to govern after winning most votes in the polls.
Gusmao promised to reform the security and judicial sectors and decentralise authority. The former president also said that he would push for the United Nations to maintain its presence in the country.
Factional bloodshed broke out in the impoverished country of about 1 million people last year, forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. The mayhem, during which 37 people were killed, was triggered by the previous government's decision to sack 600 soldiers.
About 3,000 international police and troops are currently in East Timor to restore order. Gusmao said his administration would provide assistance to help some of the displaced people return to their homes.
He also stressed that his government would focus on poverty reduction by using some of the more than $1 billion from an oil and gas fund.
But Aniceto Guterres, the leader of the Fretilin faction in parliament, said the government's programme did not reflect the needs of the people and said the former ruling party did not consider the new government as legitimate.
"Our position is clear that this government is unconstitutional but as a parliament member and Fretilin representative in national parliament we will still discuss the government's programme," said Guterres.
Australian Associated Press - September 24, 2007
East Timor's government fears a jailed former minister, allowed to leave the country for medical care, won't return to serve his sentence for arming hit squads during last year's unrest.
The government has also flagged a possible corruption inquiry related to the case of the former Fretilin government's interior minister Rogerio Lobato.
Days before the Fretilin government lost power in August, a judge ordered his release from a Dili prison for urgent medical treatment in Malaysia.
The order was made despite only one of three doctors who examined Lobato saying he needed overseas medical care. The other two including an Australian doctor had said he could receive adequate care in East Timor.
Before Lobato left the country early last month, East Timor's new government had expressed concern he might seek to remain overseas. But East Timor's new justice minister Lucia Lobato a younger cousin of Rogerio Lobato said he was allowed to leave because the government could not be seen to overrule the courts.
"We could not interfere with the courts. It's a sensitive and confused situation," Ms Lobato said this week. But she admitted her government remained "very worried" that Lobato would flee.
Lobato was convicted earlier this year of manslaughter and supplying arms to civilian hit squads tasked with eliminating government opponents in 2006. Some 37 people were killed in the unrest, which brought the nation to a standstill.
Lobato was allowed to leave East Timor after a legal agreement was reached, saying he must return immediately after treatment.
In his court order allowing overseas treatment, Judge Ivo Rosa said the constitution enshrined the right of prisoners to adequate medical care.
But the former interior minister did not leave jail like an average felon. Justice minister Lucia Lobato said he was allowed out of jail without a single document being shown to its director. He then flew to Kuala Lumpur on August 8 in a Kuwaiti- owned Lear jet.
He had with him $US30,000 ($A35,250) from the Timorese treasury for "expenses" paid by then Fretilin prime minister Estanislau da Silva after a request from his then justice minister, Domingos Sarmento.
The newly-elected government of Xanana Gusmao may hold an inquiry to examine possible corruption charges.
Lucia Lobato raised questions about the nature of Lobato's medical condition. She queried why he had been operated on for a back complaint rather than the prostate and heart problems one doctor said he had.
She said Judge Rosa had also said three experts recommended treatment abroad when in fact only one did. Of three examining doctors in Dili hospital, only Cuban Aniceto Cabeza Suarez recommended overseas treatment.
An Australian surgeon specifically stated that his various complaints were not life threatening and could be treated in East Timor. A third doctor, a Chinese urologist, simply said Lobato should be given new medication for a benign prostate condition.
Timorese ambassador Juvencio Martins has said Lobato had a spinal disc operation in Kuala Lumpur on August 21 and has since been discharged to recover in a rented apartment.
Lucia Lobato said she was particularly concerned that Malaysia had so far not responded to East Timor's requests that it must ensure Lobato does not leave Malaysia.
Sydney Morning Herald - September 4, 2007
Hamish McDonald A wealthy businessman will spend nearly $500,000 trying to get Asia-Pacific leaders to focus on human rights abuses this week.
In a series of advertisements starting in newspapers and on television and radio in Sydney and Canberra tomorrow the morning the US President, George Bush, wakes up in Sydney Ian Melrose will highlight Indonesian military abuses in East Timor and Papua.
Whether Mr Bush or other APEC leaders, such as the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will pick up the Herald or tune in to Channel Nine or SBS is unclear.
An effort to make sure they got the message on the roads into the city from Sydney Airport was stymied by the refusal of the main billboard company, APN Outdoor, to carry political content.
Channel Seven also ducked out of the campaign, telling Mr Melrose on Friday afternoon it was dropping the ads he had booked and paid for. "They said the ads were repetitive," Mr Melrose said. "I got the feeling they were looking for reasons."
The ads say that 183,000 people died in East Timor as a consequence of the Indonesian invasion in 1975, according to a United Nations report, and 100,000 have died in Papua since Indonesia wrested it from Dutch control in 1962 and 1963, citing church sources.
They also mention the alleged execution of five Australian-based television newsmen at Balibo in October 1975 and of the Australian journalist Roger East in Dili in December 1975 by Indonesian forces.
"Why have your countries supplied weapons and training to the Indonesian military?" the advertisements will ask Mr Bush and his host, John Howard.
Channel Seven's decision is drawing criticism. "It's a sad state of affairs when the same channel which employed Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham and Tony Stewart [who were among the Balibo five] won't run an ad about their murders," Dr Clinton Fernandes, a lecturer at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said.
Mr Melrose, an accountant, is the proprietor of 47 optometrical shops trading under the brand name of Optical Superstore. Spurred by reading about the death of a young Timorese girl from worm infestation, he has run ad campaigns against the Howard Government's tough negotiations with East Timor over seabed oil and gas resources.
Commercial TV stations and even SBS have baulked at stark lines such as: "When you steal from Third World countries, you kill their kids."
Mr Melrose has committed $200,000 to television ads and $196,000 to newspaper and radio messages, plus about $60,000 to a campaign in Canberra and further spending in regional media during the APEC meeting.
"Luckily I have more money than most, but money is not the issue," he said. "The issue is 183,000 Timorese, 100,000 West Papuans that have been killed, and our Balibo Five plus one, and the Howard Government's still supporting them."
He says this is just the start of a campaign leading up to the federal election, in which he will urge the 640,000 customers on the Optical Superstore database to consider human rights in their voting decision.
"I'm lining up the ducks for that," Mr Melrose said, adding he'd chosen more farmyard humour for his campaign against the "cowardice" of Australian leaders towards Indonesian Army abuses: "The chicken's last march to the woodheap."
Mr Melrose targeted three Liberal MPs in Adelaide during the 2004 election and claims to have been influential in losses by two of them. "It will be interesting to see if we've got a better reputation with our patients than the politicians have with their constituents," he said.
Jakarta Post - September 12, 2007
Alice Coster, Jakarta The ruling Timor Leste government is "illegitimate" and "illegal", said former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, but building stronger relations with Indonesia based on truth was crucial.
Speaking at a public lecture in Jakarta on Tuesday titled "Friendship and Partnership among Nations: The case of Indonesia and Timor Leste", the leader of the Fretlin Party said regardless of who governed Timor Leste, developing relations to "create a new dynamic" between the two countries was imperative and should have no limits.
"This (Timor Leste) government is not constitutional, it is illegal, we (Fretlin) will keep saying this and keep opposing the government," said Alkatiri.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported Tuesday that the UN Security Council had called on Timor Leste to refrain from further violence after mayhem erupted when independence leader Xanana Gusmao became prime minister last month.
In a statement read at a public meeting Tuesday, the council emphasized "the need for all parties to resolve any disputes through exclusively peaceful channels and within the framework of democratic institutions."
Last month, President Jose Ramos-Horta appointed a coalition led by Gusmao after no single party won a majority in a June 30 parliamentary election.
The move triggered violent protests by supporters of the Fretilin party, which led Timor Leste's 24-year struggle against Indonesian rule. Fretilin had won most of the votes in the June election and claimed the right to govern.
Alkatiri, the Secretary General of the Fretlin Party, said the press had "demonized him", while current leaders like Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao have been made to look like "angels".
"I am here trying to show the real Mari Alkatiri, not the one demonized by the media and by some people."
Alkatiri said people who had voted for Fretlin were frustrated after the election as they felt there had been a manipulation of the constitution. However, he said his party did not agree with the violence and wanted to do everything possible to get the country back to normal. "Fretlin never uses violence for political purposes" he said.
Alkatiri said despite people crediting the current leaders for taking steps to build a bond between the two countries, it was in fact he who sought to create ties, establishing the joint Timor- Leste-Indonesia Truth and Friendship Commission, created to open intensive dialog between Indonesia and Timor Leste.
"Normally the media always attributed to Ramos-Horta or Xanana Gusmao the good relations between Indonesia and Timor Leste," he said. "The idea of CVA, the commission for truth and friendship, was mine, not Xanana's or Ramos Hortas'." Alkatiri said establishing people-to-people relations to learn the truth and move forward was a critical step the neighbors must look toward.
"If you are looking to establish a solid friendly relation of friendship we need to get into the truth," he said.
Din Syamsuddin, Muhammadiyah chairman and the founding member and chairman of the Center for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilizations' (CDCC), which hosted the event, agreed with Alkatiri, stressing the importance of establishing dialogue with Indonesia's closest neighbor.
|Economy & investment|
Reuters - September 21, 2007
Tito Belo, Dili Chinese businessmen want to invest more than $100 million in East Timor over the next 10 years in a range of sectors from banking to agriculture, a Chinese business delegation said on Friday.
East Timor, a young nation of about 1 million people, is one of the world's poorest with a per capita income of only around $400, but is starting to tap its rich energy resources that over time could significantly raise standards of living.
Some businessmen fled when the country was rocked by deadly factional and gang violence last year, but calm is returning to the impoverished country after presidential and legislative elections this year.
"We have come here to meet with relevant ministries to find the way how we can invest in East Timor," a spokesman for the delegation visiting East Timor, Lu Yong Hua, told Reuters.
"This investment is very relevant to East Timor's condition, and I believe Timorese people involved in this investment will change their economy in five years to come," he told reporters after talks with the tiny country's economy and development minister, Joao Gonsalves.
Lu said the private sector delegation was seeking investment in commercial banking, agriculture, property and road construction. He added projects worth $10 million were expected to start next year and give jobs to 50,000 locals. The value of investment will increase to more than $100 million over the next 10 years, another delegation member said.
The minister of economy and development, Joao Gonsalves, welcomed the proposal. "The government will facilitate the company by offering land. If they invest in Dili, they will use land for free for seven years and outside of Dili for ten years," he told Reuters by telephone. He said the government would guarantee the security of the investment.
Factional bloodshed broke out in the predominantly Catholic country last year, killing 37 people and forcing tens of thousands to flee their homes. About 3,000 foreign police and troops remain in East Timor, which only became fully independent in 2002 after a period of UN administration.
East Timor remains one of Asia's poorest countries, although the disputed Greater Sunrise gas fields in the Timor Sea hold great potential wealth, with an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of gas and up to 300 million barrels of oil.
|Opinion & analysis|
Jakarta Post - September 27, 2007
Agung Yudhawiranata, Jakarta The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) involving Timor Leste and Indonesia is organizing the fifth in its series of public hearings in Dili from Sept. 24-27.
In previous public hearings, the CTF has failed on several accounts in attempts to credibly expose gross human rights violations in Timor Leste in 1999; they failed to accommodate the victims' quest for justice, avoided cross-examining the alleged perpetrators' dismissal of accountability and accused the UN Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) of being the antagonist in the bloodshed in Timor Leste at that time. The CTF also failed to find those responsible for the atrocities before and after the referendum in August 1999.
On several occasions the CTF has invited former UNAMET staff, including former special representative of the secretary-general, Ian Martin, to testify. However, the UN has explicitly stated it will not support the commission process because it was not established according to international human rights standards. The terms of reference of the CTF envisage the possibility that it may recommend amnesty, and do not preclude it from making such a recommendation even in cases where serious violations of international humanitarian law have occurred.
The commission's lack of credibility was seen when it failed to revise the terms of reference and amnesty was made available to perpetrators when they confessed and apologized for their wrongdoings. The widely criticized terms of reference violate the "no safe haven" principle, which states that there is no place or mechanism for perpetrators to avoid responsibility.
The UN Human Rights Committee appealed in 1982 to all nations to guarantee that "guilty perpetrators must be responsible, and human rights violation victims should obtain effective remedy and compensation." The CTF ignores the aut dedere aut punire principle, which stands as an international foundation of universal jurisdiction and considers human rights violations as a problem and an enemy of all human kind.
Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said in his report, Justice and Reconciliation for Timor Leste, that perpetrators must be dealt with justly in an independent and fair proceeding. Meanwhile the CTF continues to propose amnesty to the same perpetrators, as a sign of good will.
Civil society organizations in Indonesia and Timor Leste have condemned the impunity granted by the commission. They have urged the commission to practice a more genuine form of justice and to stop being partial to perpetrators of gross human rights abuse.
Grievances of victims' families and civil society organizations in Timor Leste and Indonesia seen during public hearings reflect the commission's tendency to protect perpetrators and water-down the truth on human rights abuse.
The CTF stands on poor foundations in terms of the promotion of reconciliation and the rule of law, when the impunity it offers undermines the (international) judicial system and victims of abuse have long been denied access to justice much less reparation or compensation.
Therefore, the first step to repair the commission's lack of credibility would be the amendment of its terms of reference. Furthermore, providing amnesty based on confessions will not resolve the fundamental question of the political will of a nation in the face of international human rights treaties.
In cases of independent investigation into human rights violations, Indonesian Commissioners should offer impartial cooperation, focussing on justice under the UN conventions and international human rights principles rather than "nationalizing" issues. As a member of the Human Rights Council and Security Council, Indonesia must become open and willing to achieve a credible and transparent judiciary process.
Indonesia and Timor Leste's governments must end this farce and work toward justice and accountability in addressing the atrocities committed in Timor Leste during the Indonesian occupation. Serious crimes such as those which occurred in East Timor in 1999 are not a national matter to be resolved in bilateral agreements, but a concern for the international community as well.
If an ad hoc international tribunal is not feasible, then the alternative is not to entirely to abandon efforts to bring justice. The commission should prioritize the livelihood of victims and not protect perpetrators who serve the interests of both countries' elite. The Commission's lack of authority to prosecute perpetrators is just a sign of a deteriorating judicial process in Indonesia.
[The writer is a researcher for the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM). He can be contacted at email@example.com]
Green Left Weekly - September 25, 2007
Jon Lamb On September 12, the new East Timorese government led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, tabled the Government Program for 2007-12. The coalition Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) believes the program will help alleviate poverty and resolve internal unrest and security issues. "Everything is urgent for this nation, [and] we are defining priorities for the short term", Gusmao told parliament. The main opposition party, Fretilin, has strongly criticised the new government program and the capabilities of the AMP to govern. Aniceto Gutteres, the head of the Fretilin delegation in parliament, criticised the government over the short parliamentary period provided to debate the new program. Fretilin has also rebuked AMP for adopting parts of the program of the previous Fretilin government.
While Gusmao has professed a desire of his government to rapidly tackle poverty, a key social issue for the new government is also how to resolve the situation of the internally displaced persons (IDP), especially the IDP camps located in Dili.
The numbers in these camps have fluctuated around the 100,000 mark since the crisis of May last year. The camps have been the sites of simmering social and political tensions and subject to intimidation and extortion from criminal gangs. A lack of confidence in the authorities to resolve disputes in the camps has often resulted in "community justice" being meted out, further adding to a cycle of retribution and tension, especially between IDPs and neighbouring communities residents.
Another factor is the uncertainty among many IDPs about food scarcity and the availability of medical assistance and other services. The previous Fretilin-led government was unable to provide re-settlement programs for the IDPs and the AMP has yet to come up with a satisfactory solution.
Post-election violence, especially after the announcement of the formation of the Gusmao-led AMP coalition on August 6, created a new wave of IDPs. The most significant upheaval took place in the eastern districts of Baucau and Viqueque, which are both Fretilin strongholds.
Initial reports estimated around 4000 people had fled their homes from thugs who staged attacks on various villages and towns suspected of being supporters of non-Fretilin parties.
In Baucau city, the second largest in East Timor, the offices of the religious aid organisation Caritas were attacked and the Catholic Relief Service office was burned down. Other non- government offices and food stores were also attacked, as were UN humanitarian convoys.
Based on information from UN and other humanitarian assessment teams, the Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Assistance determined at the end of August that some 5125 people in Viqueque and 2712 people in Baucau were displaced due to "their houses [being] burnt, destroyed, damaged or looted, others left their homes due to security concerns".
On the weekend of September 15-16, the rapid intervention unit of the East Timorese National Police (PNTL) arrested five PNTL officers and two civilians accused of arson attacks in Viqueque.
PNTL officers in Viqueque prior to the parliamentary and presidential elections were implicated in intimidation and violence against Gusmao's supporters. Secretary of State Francisco Gutteres confirmed on September 19 that the arrested officers (including PNTL district commander Gaspar da Costa) have been accused of burning more than 300 houses.
While politically motivated acts of violence appear to have eased over the later part of September, there is the potential for further instability. Impatience and frustration with the new AMP government as well as inter-party friction within the alliance could see the situation quickly deteriorate.
Fretilin leaders have indicated that they are planning protest actions and street mobilisations in the coming period. Fretilin still considers the Gusmao-led government to be "unconstitutional".
The AMP and the East Timorese judiciary have also come under pressure from Fretilin leaders and others over the handling of the negotiations with Alfredo Reinado, the renegade army officer who escaped from prison in August 2006 while awaiting trial for murder during the May 2006 crisis.
Fretilin secretary-general Mari Alkatiri told the Indonesian daily Kompas on September 12 that the Gusmao "government has to be brought down. There is no other solution." He added that this "will not be done by violence".
Fretilin is planning to hold a national retreat in the southern town of Same on September 28 to plan its anti-government campaign. Alkatiri was reported by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun on September 14 as saying that Fretilin is planning to bring together 1500 people from all over East Timor for an anti- government public rally in Same.
Alkatiri also reiterated his attitude toward the presence of Australian troops in East Timor as part of the International Stabilisation Force, stating: "This is an agreement between two states. It needs to be ratified by the parliament. And up to now the agreement was not ratified" by the East Timorese parliament. He claimed that this "means their presence is completely illegal", adding that they are "lacking in neutrality".
In an interview conducted for the Australian New Matilda magazine dated September 14, Alkatiri responded in a similar vein when asked whether he was demanding a withdrawal of the ISF. "I am demanding that the presence of Australian troops in the country be based on law and [that] they be impartial", he said.
Sydney Morning Herald - September 24, 2007
Paul Cleary For a country controlling a maritime region of 15 million square kilometres more than twice the size of its landmass Australia has limited powers to stop unlawful exploitation of creatures such as endangered whales and fish, and the resources found underneath the seabed.
This is one of the legacies of the tactics used by the Howard Government in its dealings with the poorest country in our region East Timor in the dispute over the Timor Sea's oil and gas.
In March 2002, two months before East Timor became independent, the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, with the attorney- general, Daryl Williams, announced "changes to the terms upon which Australia accepts international dispute resolution mechanisms" for maritime disputes, including boundaries. What seemed a dull statement had profound implications for Australia's conduct in the disputed Timor Sea and elsewhere.
The Government knew East Timor had a strong claim over petroleum resources worth at least $120 billion on the northern side of the median line between the two countries.
At the time of this announcement the Howard Government had agreed to an interim treaty giving East Timor a 40 per cent share. It knew East Timor was entitled to a lot more when it became a new nation, hence the announcement two months before independence designed to deny the new country legal recourse.
The "declaration" signed by Downer withdrew Australia's acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice for maritime disputes, and of the dispute settlement procedures under the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. This included matters "relating to the exploitation of any disputed area of or adjacent to any such maritime zone pending its delimitation".
In his press statement, Downer claimed the change was made as a result of maritime boundary claims by New Zealand, Norway and France.
But the target was East Timor, which was not mentioned in the release. The minutes of a meeting of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and United Nations officials in late 2000 reveal how the Government's withdrawal was aimed at East Timor and was described by a senior foreign affairs official, Michael Potts, as a "get-out-of-jail card".
At the time of the announcement Australia was pocketing about $1 million a day in tax revenue from the Woodside-operated Laminaria-Corallina oilfields, which sit twice as close to East Timor as Australia. The withdrawal meant Australia denied revenue to the new country that could have been used to generate jobs and prevent the formation of today's rock-throwing gangs.
It is significant the Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, tacitly endorsed the withdrawal at the Labor Party's national conference in 2004. A return to these procedures was deliberately omitted from the resolution on the Timor Sea dispute Rudd put to the conference as foreign affairs spokesman.
Now the dispute is settled, Labor's environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, has suggested Australia could use International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea procedures to prevent whaling in the Southern Ocean. When asked if Australia had the power to take legal action to prevent whaling in the Southern Ocean, a spokesperson for the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, said the Howard Government preferred diplomatic measures.
"The question of whether an acceptance of jurisdiction by Australia is applicable to any given dispute, including a dispute involving whaling in waters off Antarctica, will depend on the specific details of that dispute. Whilst the Government has not ruled out any viable legal or diplomatic action to bring pressure to bear on Japan to end its so-called 'scientific' whaling, it is the Government's view that diplomatic action at this stage provides the best prospects for success."
The lesson for Australia is that greedy short-term opportunism is not in anyone's interest, least of all for a wealthy Western country which should be a model of democratic values, the rule of law and a committed partnership with its impoverished neighbours.
[Paul Cleary is the author of Shakedown Australia's Grab for Timor Oil (Allen & Unwin). He was an adviser to the East Timor Government on the Timor Sea negotiations.]
New Matilda - September 14, 2007
Maryann Keady The current situation in East Timor makes me think of my first year American Politics essay: 'The American President as Actor; the American Actor as President: Discuss'. With Ronald Reagan at the helm, it wasn't difficult to write 10,000 words.
Avid East Timor-watchers of the past few years can be summed up in three ways:
Those who think Xanana Gusmao and Ramos Horta are the Good Guys and the Australians are Bronzed Aussie Battlers Saving the Day; those who think Fretilin and Mari Alkatiri are the Good Guys and the Aussies are Mad Marauding Imperialists; and those who think rebel-on-the-run Alfredo Reinado deserves an Academy Award and the United States a screenwriting credit.
The third camp consists of me and possibly some cynical locals who shall remain nameless.
Of course, we are led to believe that the violence in the country is the result of a national divide; that the United Nations and Australia are necessary to guide the country from its roughshod independence; and that the leaders are fighting mad at each other and the country on the brink of disaster. Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not.
What follows is an interview with East Timor's Opposition leader Mari Alkatiri, former Fretilin Prime Minister and a man I have in the past said will one day win 'Best New Political Talent' in the Asia-Pacific, and make a run for the Mahathir/Keating 'Verbal Molotov Cocktail' trophy.
His vigorous denunciation of East Timor's Australian-led International Stabilisation Force and their political partiality almost makes me want to bring him over to the United States to help Hillary wipe the White House clean.
In fact, since Bracksy is helping advise President Xanana Gusmao, perhaps Mari can help St Kev land a few weighty punches in this arena? The man has a lot of material...
NewMatilda.com: It has been reported that you think that East Timor's Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF) is illegal. Why?
Mari Alkatiri: Every agreement between two countries needs to be ratified by the Parliament this is our constitution, our law. And the agreement I myself signed on the 26th of May last year was never tabled to the Parliament to be ratified.
Why wasn't it? You were Prime Minister at that time.
I had to resign and [Jose] Ramos-Horta became Prime Minister. He or Xanana Gusmao should have tried to table it for ratification.
So you're effectively saying that this is an emergency law that hasn't been adopted as law in the country, and therefore needs review. Is that right?
Not an emergency law. It was a bilateral agreement between Timor-Leste and Australia and, it needs to be ratified.
It needs to be ratified within [East Timor]?
I have no doubt about this. This agreement needs to be ratified otherwise all the actions of all the forces in Timor Leste are illegal. It means that when the forces are called to act against a group and kill somebody it would be considered a crime.
So you are concerned about the legal nature of Australia's role in East Timor?
I am a lawyer myself so I am concerned about the legal matters of the agreement.
But what legal problems do you see? At the moment [the troops] are providing security to East Timor.
This is the fact of the situation. But they need to be backed by a legal agreement.
Are you unhappy with the ISF and their role in the country?
Most of the forces are not impartial. They have been taking sides since they have been there, this is clear, and we have facts to prove it. I witnessed myself some actions of the forces.
Do you think people might see this is a bit of political posturing by you after losing the elections a case of sour grapes?
I didn't lose the election I won the election!
But you are no longer the Prime Minister of the country.
But I won the election. This is amazing. You need to investigate clearly [how this happened]. All of the Australian media was saying before that Xanana would win for sure 50 per cent but he lost the election. He only got 24 per cent of the vote. We [Fretilin] won the election. This is the reality.
Are you effectively saying that Xanana Gusmao is not the legal head of the country at the moment?
For sure. He is not legitimate.
I want to go back to the ISF why are international troops needed at all in East Timor? We are five years from independence and despite the very small population there seems no end to the violence.
We invited the United Nations, we invited Australia and other countries to come in to help us resolve the problems. Not to come in and take part in our political domestic problems.
What evidence do you have that they are involved in the political processes or your domestic problems?
I am talking openly because I have evidence. The recent evidence is when the Australian forces took Fretilin flags and tried to intimidate the population in [the city of] Bacau. If they are going to be impartial, it is better for them to go home.
So you're demanding a withdrawal of the ISF?
I am demanding that the presence of Australian troops in the country be based on law, and [tha] they be impartial.
Under your Prime Ministership there was violence you did not contain the violence...
They only gave me two weeks to contain the violence. And now they have been over a year in power and they have not resolved the violence until now.
But what would Fretilin do differently? You had quite a long while to resolve tensions within the country.
You are completely wrong. Under four years of my governance the country was really peaceful. And suddenly a violent group emerged and found a way to overthrow the government. This was a clear coup. It is a conspiracy.
You're saying that it was an illegal attempt to remove you from power?
Of course! There is no doubt on this.
Why would Australia want to remove you from power and why would the ISF be involved in political activities against you?
Ask them why they did it. [Perhaps] because the resources we got from oil and gas, because we initiated an aggressive program for the development of the country.
Is there the possibility that this has to do with far great geo- political issues such as the growing power and might of China within the Asia-Pacific?
You are completely wrong. There is no Chinese influence in Timor-Leste.
So this is completely domestic?
You are completely wrong. This is the problem of the media. They are not trying to get the truth. They are trying to be part of the whole propaganda against Fretilin and myself. There is not a single concession for China in Timor-Leste. Not a single one.
How do you see the current Government differing from your Government?
The current Government is a group of people that don't even know how to govern the country.
Why do you think they are different?
Xanana Gusmao has in the past talked about and been part of - closer ties with Australia.
That is why you are happy now. Because Xanana Gusmao is closer to Australia...
So you think Australia would be happier with Xanana as Prime Minister because he would favour better relations with Australia?
You said that. Not me.
Thanks for your time Mr Alkatiri.
Tim Anderson - September 15, 2007
The outcome of Timor Leste's parliamentary election could be seen as a political victory for former President and now Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. Some factors are running in his favour; but there are substantial challenges.
Xanana has managed to sideline Fretilin (still the strongest political force in the country) for the time being. His Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP), created after the election, has a new constellation of Ministers and Secretaries of State. Fretilin still regards the process by which the AMP was installed as unconstitutional, but has abandoned the idea of a legal challenge.
Xanana's alliance inherits a budget which has more than doubled, thanks to increased petroleum royalties. Further, the Howard Government has rewarded with increased aid what it sees as a more pro-Australian regime. A Rudd Government has already committed to increased aid and scholarships for the entire region.
In a clever move, Xanana has contracted the services of former Victorian Labor Premier Steve Bracks, as an adviser. This will give him an excellent line of communication with the likely incoming Labor Government in Canberra.
However an increased budget and Australian support may not be enough. Xanana has used up much of his political capital in coming to power.
He has undermined the political parties he helped create and now dominates and relies on a disparate group with little collective political will.
The strongest group in the new Ministry is the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD), with links to the old UDT. Xanana's National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (the new 'CNRT'), despite being the major party in the AMP, remains more an umbrella group than a party. The Democratic Party (PD), formerly the major opposition party, now has less influence.
Nationalists are thin on the ground. Two of the new ministers and at least three of the Secretaries of State backed the 1999 'autonomy' option with Indonesia. Graffiti in Dili reminds them of this, and of their links with militia violence.
Autonomists in, nationalists out. Xanana's main post-independence theme of reconciliation has contributed to this re-alignment. This political shift, more than the somewhat associated 'east- west' ethnic divide, reflects the divisions that destroyed the police and damaged the army in 2006.
Former army Major Alfredo Reinado, an escapee wanted for murder, remains at large and a potential embarrassment to the new government.
Xanana is widely believed to have backed Reinado's armed rebellion. The UN investigation into the 2006 crisis diplomatically labelled the former President's connection with Reinado as unwise ("increasing tensions between the President and the army") but not criminal.
Reinado might yet have his say on this matter, if he faces trial. However in view of the failure to arrest and prosecute the high- profile escapee, resolving the 'Reinado problem' is now universally seen as Xanana's responsibility.
Fretilin, the former government leader, has worn its share of blame for the crisis. Its vote fell from 56% in 2001 to 29% in 2007. However Xanana's fall was hardly less dramatic. As a Fretilin-backed independent he gained over 80% in the 2002 Presidential vote. His new political party gained just 24% in the 2007 elections.
The new 'CNRT' (using the initials of an earlier, genuinely broad coalition) has little by way of policies or party structure. On one view this new CNRT, with refugees from Fretilin, PD and elsewhere, is little more than a political vehicle for Xanana. He certainly has all authority in both the CNRT and the AMP.
After the breakup of the original CNRT, in the name of multi- party elections, Xanana encouraged the formation of the PD. This party became the main opposition and the potential beneficiary of the attempted coup in 2006.
However in 2007 Xanana bypassed the PD, attracting some of their support into his new CNRT. As a result, PD's vote only increased a little over that of 2001 (from 9% to 11%). PD was offered just two ministries in the new government, plus the Presidency of the Parliament for PD leader Fernando 'Lasama' de Araujo. Many PD members are dissatisfied with this outcome.
Lasama seems to have gained little influence, remaining dependent on Xanana.
In sum, Timor Leste has acquired a weak and disparate government, dominated by a Presidential-style Prime Minister, with few policies. Its vulnerability to external pressures is plain.
What are these pressures? First, the struggle with Australia over energy resources, having reached some form of compromise over royalties in the shared JPDA zone, is likely to move on into issues of gas processing and new explorations.
The Fretilin-led government was developing plans and finance for onshore LNG processing and has allocated some new exploration contracts. There is more money in gas processing than gas royalties; and the benefits from new fields are likely to be substantial.
The immediate Australian pressure on Xanana's AMP government will be to abandon the plan to divert and process gas from the Greater Sunrise Field in Timor Leste, and allow it all to be piped to Darwin. Canberra will also seek to exclude new, non-Australian energy development partners. The failure to conclude proper maritime boundaries has already allowed Canberra to play on that ambiguity, suggesting Australian consent for new exploration is required. Nevertheless, the Indian Reliance group begins drilling in 2008. The World Bank (WB) is similarly positioning itself to influence the new administration. In August the World Bank together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) bodies which function as effective lobby groups for private foreign investors produced a report called 'Healing the Nation'. This report reinforced several themes of importance to foreign investors.
In the absence of clear, independent policies to defend national assets and build public institutions, the development banks and their privatisation agendas will have greater influence. Reinforcing this position, two senior ministers in the new cabinet have worked for the World Bank and the ADB.
On the question of prudent use of the Petroleum Fund, the World Bank and Fretilin were in agreement, albeit for different reasons. The World Bank wants limited government expenditure so as to maximise the opportunities for private investment; the Fretilin-led government simply accepted the need for cautious and sustainable fiscal policy.
This is one area where Xanana has proposed a policy departure, through more rapid use of petroleum revenues. However the expanded budget, increased aid and the fact that parliamentary approval is required to draw extra revenue from the Petroleum Fund might help modify Xanana's position.
On the other hand, the World Bank and Fretilin leaders clashed on questions of capacity building and, in particular, public institutions. In 2000 the World Bank (and AusAID) opposed the use of aid moneys for reconstructing East Timor's rice industry, and opposed public grain silos and public abattoirs. They also pushed for privatisation of Agricultural Service Centres and the newly created Microfinance Institution.
In 'Healing the Nation' the World Bank comes out strongly against any new public banking facilities, arguing for reliance on the established private banks, such as the ANZ. This is probably a reference to discussions around a possible Rural Bank, or at least a regulated line of credit from the private banks to farmers.
Privatisation of the Microfinance Institution of East Timor (MFIET) also remains on the ADB's agenda.
The Banks and the new administration seem to agree on tax cuts, small as Timor Leste's tax base is. President Jose Ramos Horta has floated the idea of radical tariff and income tax cuts, and 'Healing the Nation' supports such an approach. The objective is increased private foreign investment.
However Timor Leste has no highly competitive industries, so slashing taxes is unlikely to result in increased foreign investment. New investment, e.g. in tourism, will be far more dependent on political stability, improved infrastructure and improved public health.
Experience elsewhere shows that market access, clear rules and the above mentioned conditions are far more important than low tax rates.
On the other hand, abolishing corporate income taxes (while popular with corporations) will place greater reliance on the Petroleum Fund and aid programs. Nevertheless, it seems the new government may be headed in this direction.
Xanana's alliance faces the challenge of maintaining and developing the very sound initiatives of the country's first independent government in education and health. These initiatives include the abolition of school fees at primary and lower secondary levels and the introduction of school meals. These meals are important for undernourished children, so they can concentrate in class.
This program, which began in three districts in 2006, needs further investment and development.
However pressure from within the alliance to divert funds into a range of pet projects, plus World Bank advisers arguing for greater reliance on 'user pays' regimes, could subvert the modest but steady growth in enrolment numbers.
The World Bank supports the idea of using revenue for 'Conditional Cash Transfers' (CCT), a sort of micro-dispersal of state funds to families, with social objectives attached. The macroeconomic idea is to provide an stimulus to effective demand. However, such moves are likely to be wasteful, undermining state investment in badly needed education, health and infrastructure.
There are many ways in which public moneys can be wasted. There are demands from a wide range of veterans and their families, which might either be sifted through carefully or conceded en masse.
The Church is likely to demand public funds for its social projects. The diverse members of the loose alliance will have their own demands. With an anticipated narrowing of the tax base, greater reliance on the Petroleum Fund and wasteful expenditure could push the country down the 'resource' curse' road. A small country should invest its limited income carefully.
Cuban assistance in health and adult literacy has been remarkable. Apart from the 300 Cuban health workers in Timor Leste, 800 Timorese students are now studying medicine with the Cubans, 700 in Cuba and 100 in Timor Leste. The current Cuban offer is for up to 1,000 medical scholarships.
This collaboration, which began in 2003, is the largest health aid program in the entire Asia-Pacific region, and very good deal for the country. Within ten to fifteen years, East Timorese graduates will replace all the Cuban doctors.
An associated Cuban literacy program (currently in Portuguese but moving to Tetum) began in 2007 and is due to spread to the more than 400 villages of the country. Those attending so far are mostly women.
While the Cuban connection has been opposed by the US and sections of the Catholic Church, these programs are now very popular and have been supported from their inception by Xanana and Jose Ramos Horta. They seem likely to continue. In a sign of continuity, the new Health Minister has the former Health Minister as an adviser.
A final challenge emerging from the World Bank's recent report is pressure for land registration.
It is a common demand of World Bank and AusAID that land should be commodified and that secure title be made available for investors. At first glance this might seem an attractive proposition for a country with many land disputes, arising from distinct colonial periods. However land registration is a process which historically dispossesses small holders and advantages large corporate interests. The likely prizes are fertile land for export crops and prime coastal land for tourism.
Timor Leste's constitution does not permit foreigners or corporations to own land. The World Bank contests this, and is urging the new administration to remove 'obstacles' to the commercialisation of land. This could mean changes to the constitution, or contractual means to avoid the constitution. Both the US and Australian governments are believed to be pushing for amendments to the constitution, to allow foreigners to own land. This presents yet another challenge for the Xanana Alliance.
The Age - September 2, 2007
Paul Cleary Four years ago, then premier (of Victoria State) Steve Bracks led a solemn procession through the main street of Balibo, East Timor, wearing the headdress and rainbow-coloured skirt of a Timorese king. At his side, and in the same garb, was the hero of East Timor's long struggle for independence, Xanana Gusmao.
Bracks opened the "flag house" in Balibo, which had been the base of the five Melbourne newsmen before they were slain by the Indonesian military in October 1975. With funding from the Victorian Government, the house, which still retains a faint impression of the Australian flag painted by Greg Shackleton, was turned into a community centre. It became a living memorial to the newsmen.
The modest project was a poignant example of a state government stepping in and playing a role on an issue in which successive federal governments had woefully failed.
Gusmao at the time held the largely ceremonial role of president of newly independent East Timor. But now, as Prime Minister, and with a formidable challenge ahead, he has asked Bracks to step in again to address the real threat of East Timor becoming a failed state. In recent years, Bracks has followed events closely through regular meetings with Gusmao and his wife, Kirsty Sword Gusmao.
East Timor's current difficulties can be traced back to the Howard Government's failure to properly support the new democracy in its formative years.
Australia's greedy grab for Timor oil meant that East Timor was hugely distracted from the task of nation building because it had to fight for its resources. Australia's opening offer in negotiations in 2000-01, and the treaty signed in 2002, did not fully recognise East Timor's rights under international law.
And, according to World Bank representative Elisabeth Huybens, East Timor did not have the resources it needed to exist as an independent state. Australia was also a mean neighbour when it came to foreign aid. East Timor was a devastated country in need of a Marshall Plan, and instead it got $40 million a year from 2002. Aid has been increased to almost double that amount in the latest budget.
Now that East Timor has become a "Xanana republic", the big challenge is to run a functional administration that can deliver basic services and generate jobs, jobs and more jobs.
The hordes of rock-throwing youths in Dili are the result of an economy that went backwards in per capita terms for five successive years. In part, this came about because the government was unable to spend all of the money it had available.
Bracks told The Sunday Age that his focus would be addressing a growing culture of "corruption and cronyism" by introducing checks and balances into the awarding of government contracts and appointments.
A key reform challenge is to tackle the centralised administration introduced by the former government, which required ministers to approve even the smallest decisions. Bracks is right to make decentralisation an important focus of reform.
But he seems cautious when it comes to hitting the spending pump, saying this has to be done in a "sustainable way". East Timor already has a good system for saving its oil revenue, but it was unable to spend anywhere near the sustainable limit set by its Petroleum Fund law. As a result, the economy, and the country, imploded.
There is little that is sustainable about East Timor in its current state. As well as reforming public administration, Bracks needs to focus on how the Government can get the economy rolling by introducing job-generating public works programs and give the long-suffering people of East Timor a future.
[Paul Cleary is a former adviser to the East Timor Government and author of Shakedown: Australia's Grab for Timor Oil.]
|East Timor media monitoring|
The Catholic Church disagrees with the CTF citing 'manipulation'
The Catholic Church has disagreed with the establishment Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF), because according to the Church, the Commission could damage victims' rights by offering impunity to those who have committed human rights violations. "I think that the Commission will not contribute to justice and will make military sympathizers heroes," said the Director of Peace and Justice of the Baucau Diocese, Fr. Martinho Gusmao. Fr. Gusmao also said he will not participate in the Commission. (DN)
John Hutcheson: 'ISF deployed 4 placements in eastern part'
The commander of the International Security Forces (ISF) says there are currently four deployments to support the F-FDTL and UNPol in maintaining security in the eastern part of the country. Speaking to the journalists on Thursday (27/9) in a Press Briefing in Caicoli, Mr. Hutcheson said that all people should know the work of ISF in Timor-Leste is to support the communities who are facing security problems. The soldiers who are deployed in Baucau, Viqueque, Watulari and Lospalos are partnering with the F-FDTL, UNPol and PNTL to maintain security across the country. (DN)
Xanana-Paulo signed travel authorization of Railos, Fretilin presents to NP
The Fretilin MP Elizario Ferreira said a travel authorization letter for Railos, which signed by the former President Xanana Gusmao and the former PNTL Commander Paulo Martins shows he was granted official permission relating to last year's crisis. Speaking to the journalists on Thursday (27/9) in the national parliament, Mr. Ferreira said that the travel authorization shows that Railos is being afforded immunity and was able to authorize arson, theft and intimidation of people in Liquicia. "This shows where the crisis comes from, and Mr. Paulo himself recognizes that they signed the authorization letter," added Mr. Ferreira. (DN)
Government to identify the status of IDPs
The government is going to create coordination team to identify the status of the IDPs in camps before building houses and facilities for them. The State Secretary of Council of Ministries, Agio Pereira said that the coordination team will identify who are the IDPs and who are not. Mr. Pereira also said the Ministry of Solidarity has funding to prepare shelter for IDPs ahead of the rainy season. (TP)
ONGTL, conducting alternative public hearing against CTF
Non-Government Organizations of Timor-Leste (ONGTL) on 28-29 September will conduct alternative public hearings against the CTF. "We will conduct the alternative public hearings because during public hearings conducted in Indonesia, the Commission of truth and Friendship (CTF) considered that all the witnesses are always good. We see that the witnesses who provided their statements for the public hearings have a tendency towards manipulation. We want to re-conduct these to find out the truth between the two nations. We will be involving victims, both from Indonesia and Timor-Leste because they are only blaming militias and not Indonesia military," said Xisto dos Santos, the coordinator of Students' Front of Timor-Leste and Administrative Council of National Alliance for International Tribunal (ANTI) on Wednesday (26/9) at the National University, Dili. Mr. Dos Santos also said that public hearings of CTF tended towards manipulation as compared to the Expert Commission of UN who conducted its investigation in Timor-Leste. He also stated that the CTF work is to give amnesty to the criminal actors and not to find out the truth. (TP and DN)
Alkatiri: US$61M for three months might create corruption
Former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said that the transitional fund of the Alliance government will create a broad way for corruption because he considers the amount to be too much to use in only three months. "If this big money is the investment capital to build bridges and roads there might be no questions. So this amount of money should be spent carefully," said Mr. Alkatiri. (DN)
Fernanda Borges: NP attributed to principles of international law
MP from National Unity Party (PUN), Fernanda Borges said that the national parliament will stand for the principles of international law because the Timorese constitution forces the MPs to do so. Ms. Fernanda also said that if amnesty is granted to the criminals, then there will be impunity and anybody could do anything. (DN)
MPs worried about the mission of CTF
Indonesia and Timor-Leste's CTF is worried because it appears to be dominated by politics. "I am a little worried because the CTF has established itself upon political tendency and not upon finding the truth," said Cecilio Caminha, MP from CNRT in the National Parliament on Wednesday (26/9). Mr. Caminha also said that in reviewing the Terms of Reference, the CTF aims to find out the truth based on the public hearings, but the final result will be rely upon the writing by the Commissaries of the Commission. (STL)
UN rejects amnesty for criminals, says Jose Luis Guterres
Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres said that the UN does not disagree with the Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF); the UN just disagrees with some articles of the CTF that talk about amnesty, because criminals have to submit themselves to justice. "I saw their statements which said that they do not agree with the article concerning amnesty, but it is the position of the UN that the CTF is a bilateral thing between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, and that seeking the truth is part of justice," said Mr. Guterres. (DN)
UN medal award for the members of the Chinese police
Ten UNPol contingents from China who joined the UN mission in Timor-Leste were awarded medals from UN. The medal ceremony held in the Embassy of China in Farol, Dili, was attended by the Acting SRSG, Eric Tan, and the UNPol Commissary Rodolfo Tor. In his speech, Ambassador Su Jian said that from 1999 until now China has deployed 300 police across the country.
"The UN recognizes and awards medals to these ten police officers for their good work in the area of security in 13 districts," said Rodolfo Tor, the UNPol Commissioner. "During hard times, China has never closed its eyes to the people of Timor-Leste since 1999 - the medals for the ten police are recognition of this hard work," said the Acting SRSG Eric Tan. (DN)
Nelson Correia: Fretilin's position not destructive
Nelson Correia, MP from Social Democratic Party (PSD), said that the position of Fretilin insisting that the Alliance government is unconstitutional and illegitimate is not a destructive statement, but constructive. According to Mr. Correia, the statement of Fretilin is a warning for the Alliance government that they should work better than the previous government. Furthermore, Mr. Correia said that is not so important who governs this country; the important thing is to normalize the situation and see that the East Timor does not belong to the Alliance or Fretilin. (DN)
Julio Thomas Pinto: It's the decision of the parliament to send back ISF or not
The State Secretary for Defence, Julio Thomas Pinto said that the decision to send back the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) should be the decision of the national parliament following approval by MPs. 'I think any withdrawal of the ISF from Timor- Leste is for national parliament or for other sovereignty organs of the state to decide," said Mr. Pinto. The secretary of state also said that at the present the ISF is working on good relations with F-FDTL by providing training to help professionalise the Timorese Defence Force. (DN)
David Dias: Alfredo has the right to choose place of his cantonment
David Dias Ximenes, MP from Fretilin, said that Alfredo has the right to choose the place for his cantonment, such as Ossu sub- district of Viqueque district. "I only need to say that as a citizen of the country he has the right to choose a place of cantonment for the dialogue. But given his status now, he has no freedom to choose a place of cantonment; his status for the present is that he should responsible to the law," said Mr. Dias Ximenes. According to Mr. Dias, as a prisoner used to finding his way out of prison, Alfredo should take accept the place of cantonment as that determined by the government, whether Ermera or Suai. (STL)
Fretilin condemns ISF threats on Fretilin supporters
Fretilin's MPs strongly condemned the actions of International Stabilization Forces (ISF) towards Fretilin's supporters in the Lete-Foho sub-district of Ermera. Mr. Antoninho Bianco, Fretilin MP, confirmed that the ISF together with language assistance - conducted a door-to-door operation looking for Fretilin supporters.
"The ISF is acting the same way the Indonesian military did during the resistance. What is the ISF doing in Timor-Leste guaranteeing security or pressuring Fretilin?" said Mr. Bianco. The Secretary-General of Fretilin stated that the ISF is not impartial; it pressures Fretilin supporters while supporting other parties. (TP, DN and STL)
Xanana testifies before CTF
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao today (25/9) will testify before the Indonesia-East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission. The public hearings will take place during the next three days Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in Dili. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao will testify behind closed doors on what he knows about the unrest that led to East Timor's vote to separate from Indonesian rule in 1999. "As the commander of the guerrillas and CNRT at that time, I will give my testimony to the CTF on the 1999 incidents. I was in jailed in Indonesia and the statement I will give will be based on the information I had at that time." said Mr. Xanana on Monday (24/9). (STL, DN and TP)
CTF discriminates against families of perpetrators and victims
CTF which was established by Indonesia and Timor-Leste in 2005 to expose the truth on human rights violations in Timor-Leste during the incidents of 1999 is seen to be discriminatory towards the perpetrators and the victims in the manner in which the testimonies are given.
Unlike others, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, former President of Indonesia, BJ Habibie and President Jose Ramos Horta were allowed to give their testimonies behind closed doors.
A joint report dated 24 September by fourteen NGOs highlighted this discrimination by the CTF, saying that these 'closed door' hearings only benefit the government representatives and allow for impunity for the human rights violations.
"These procedures prove that the CTF does not follow the laws and international human rights principles, even though UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan in his report of July 26, 2006 to Security Council called on the CTF to be credible and transparent," remarked the report.
The report calls on the governments of Indonesia and Timor-Leste to stop these hearings and to just implement the recommendations made by the CAVR (The Commission of Truth, Friendship and Reconciliation). (STL and DN)
UN, asking Alfredo to submit his weapons
Acting SRSG Eric Huck Gim Tam said that the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) wants Reinado and his men to relinquish its weapons and to submit to justice. Speaking to the journalist at the weekly press briefing at Obrigado Barracks on Thursday (20/9) Mr. Tan said that the police have a role in solving the issue and UNPol Commissioner Rodolfo Tor will be involved in the task force to secure security during negotiations. "Our concern has always been to see Reinado return the weapons and submit himself to justice," said Mr. Tan. (DN)
Hasegawa, to be Special Counselor of Ramos-Horta
The President of the Republic, Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, announced today that he has appointed Dr. Sukehiro Hasegawa as his Special Adviser for Good Governance and Democracy. "Dr. Sukehiro Hasegawa is an outstanding expert on governance and development issues with 30 years of service in the UN system in many countries of the developing world", said President Ramos-Horta.
"Secondly, he is very committed to the well-being of the people of Timor-Leste. Also, Dr. Hasegawa is a national of Japan, a country with which Timor-Leste maintains very strong bi-lateral ties with. So I am very pleased that Dr. Hasegawa, now retired from the UN, has agreed to serve as my Special Advisor", the President of the Republic said. "He will also be available to assist the Government and National Parliament", President Ramos- Horta added.
Dr. Hasegawa was Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator for many years until August 2006, having served in two UN Missions in Timor-Leste, first with UNMISET and later as head of UNOTIL. (TP, STL and DN)
Horta: CTF should not be worried about UN position on amnesty
The United Nations has questioned the Commission of Truth and Friendship on the possibility of giving amnesty to the actors of human rights violations in Timor-Leste under the occupation of Indonesia. The UN said that the Commission violates international principles in respect of the amnesty provision.
The Indonesian Chief of the Commission Benjamin Mangkoedilaga said on Sunday (23/9 in Dili that President Jose Ramos-Horta has asked the CTF not to be concerned with the statement by the Secretary-General of UN.
According to President Ramos-Horta, as quoted by Mr. Mangkoedilaga, the statement is by the Secretary-General, not an official mandated position of the General Assembly through the Security Council. Mr. Mangkoedilaga will meet President Ramos- Horta in Denpasar next week to discuss the matter. (TP)
PSD criticizes, Alkatiri for boycotting the Government
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) has criticised the statement of the Secretary General of Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri who plans to organize boycott the the Alliance led by Xanana Gusmao. "There are leaders who say they plan to boycott the activities of the government because they say it is an illegal government," said the PSD MP Fernando Gusmao. According to the MP, the act that will be taken by the leaders of Fretilin will harm the state, especially Timorese people. (STL)
F-FDTL, ready to face security situation
The F-FDTL is ready to cooperate with the PNTL and International Stabilization Forces (ISF) to face any security situation that may arise in Timor-Leste. "The F-FDTL is ready to collaborate with PNTL, UNPol and ISF to secure the security of the country, especially in Baucau and other places. If the situation is serious, the PNTL will need the F-FDTL to assist in controlling it," said Major Haksolok. According to Major Haksolok, the F-FDTL will fulfill its mandate to control any conflicts which threaten the security. (STL)
Illegal, the presence of Australian Defence Forces
The independent watchdog Aid/Watch said that the Australian Defense Forces (ADF) are operating illegally. The ADF presence is considered illegal as the agreement has not yet been ratified by the new National Parliament. "This is one example of how John Howard's gives little respect to the laws of the neighboring countries, which is increasing tension in the Pacific region," said Co-Director Aid/Watch, Flint Duxfield. Furthermore, Dr Tim Anderson, a member of Aid/Watch said that the only way to end this illegal arrangement is to place the ADF under United Nations (UN) or withdraw it from Timor-Leste. (STL)
Honesty is needed to solve the Reinado problem
The National Unity Party (PUN) says honesty is needed to fine a solution for the problem of Alfredo Reinado and his men. "The state and Reinado should be serious and honest if they are to end this problem," said the MP Fernanda Borges. (STL)
Aniceto, judges to be the instrument for the dialogue with Alfredo
Member of HAK Association and Human Rights Observer, Aniceto Neves said that judges should hold the dialogue between Alfredo Reinado and the state to solve the problem quickly. "Judges will also provide the opportunity for Reinado to talk about justice. The 12 F-FDTL members have already submitted themselves to justice regarding last year's crisis and their role in weapon distribution.
Reinado should also submit himself to justice," said Mr. Neves on Friday (21/9). (DN)
UN presence in Timor until 2012 does not interfere with nation's sovereignty
The President of Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mr. Mario Viegas Carrascalao, said that the UN presence in Timor-Leste would not interfere with the nation's sovereignty. The leaders, however, need to commit to stability and ensure that security is maintained after the UN leaves. "Regardless of whether the UN stays or not, it is the responsibility of the Timorese people to ensure stability in the country," said Mr. Carrascalao. Mr. Carrascalao also reminded that the UN left after peace and stability was in place in 2002 but because of the situation in the country, they were called back. (DN)
Mari Alkatiri: "Indonesia continues to support Timor-Leste"
The former Prime Minister, Mr. Mari Alkatiri, asked the government of Indonesia and its investors to continue supporting Timor-Leste and ensured that the country's internal problems will be resolved. Mr. Alkatiri acknowledged that the country has faced problems but reassured that all the components will work hand-in-hand to strengthen the peace and ensure stability for the nation's development. Mr. Alkatiri was visiting Indonesia at the invitation to be one of the panelists for the Center of Dialogue of Civilization. (DN)
Matan Ruak as Chief of Staff of Armed Forces - same level as a Minister
The Secretary of State for Defence, Julio Pinto, said that the state proposed through the President of thee Republic to nominate Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak to be the Chief of Staff-Major General of the Armed Forces (F-FDTL). "I believe that this decision was made by the government in an attempt to raise the salary of the armed forces. Administratively, in terms of salary, the position of Chief of Staff- Major General of the Armed Forces will be the same as a Minister or Vice minister or a Secretary of State," said Mr. Pinto. (DN)
Julio Thomas Pinto: Government decides who will be involved in Task Force
The Secretary State for Defence, Mr. Julio Pinto, said that the government will decide who will be involved in the Task Force responsible for the dialogue between the government and Alfredo Reinado. Mr. Pinto said that those appointed will prepare the Terms of Reference (TOR) to be followed in order to solve the issue legally. "I propose a delegation from the President, Prime Minister, National Parliament and F-FDTK," said Mr. Pinto. Mr. Pinto also encouraged all the Timorese people to hold discussions and find solutions to problems. (DN)
Timorese situation is Horta's main agenda at UNHQ
President JoseRamos-Horta will travel to the US to give an update on the situation in Timor-Leste to the Security Council in New York. Mr. Ramos-Horta will inform on security issues, infrastructure development and the political situation of the country and will ask the Security Council to continue supporting Timor-Leste in the area of security. The presence of Mr. Ramos- Horta at the UN is as strategic move for the new nation as it tries to establish itself in the region and internationally. The President will also attend a meeting with the Clinton Global Forum to discuss ways to combat poverty, HIV/AIDS and global warming. The President will return to Timor-leste in October. (STL)
Carrascalao: the Alliance government will serve for 5 years
MPs from Fretilin said that they will not contribute to the Xanana-led Alliance government. "We are in the parliament working on our duties. The government does its job. We have nothing to do with them," said Mr. Estanislau da Silva. Mr. da Silva said that Fretilin objects the government's programs because they have no clear vision for the country. Mr. Mario Carrascalao, MP from the Social Democratic Party (PSD), said that the programs have been approved and the government will serve for the next five years. "The people will see the results from the work of the Alliance government; they will have a better life" said Mr. Carrascalao. (STL)
Arresting Gaspar da Costa is procedural
The Secretary of State for Security, Mr. Francisco Guterres, said that the arrest of Mr. Gaspar da Costa followed proper procedures as they had a warrant. The warrant issued by the court mandated the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) in the eastern districts to arrest PNTL members who were involved in burning houses in Watulari, Viqueque District. "The police has been arresting members of the Viqueque police force that were involved in burning more than 300 houses. I have the warrant and you can confirm it directly with the Prosecutor General and the court," said Mr. Guterres. (STL)
Benevides: "I will not leave my client"
Alfredo Reinado's lawyer, Mr. Benevides Barros Correia, said that he has no plans to give the case to other lawyers and confirmed that he will defend his client. "I deny the reports saying that I will offer Alfredo's case to other lawyers. I will not abandon this case," Mr. Correia. (TP)
Zacarias to explain the situation in Timor-Leste to United Nations
The Minister of Foreign Affairs explained that the goal of his visit to the United Nations is to meet with all the UN members and explain the situation in Timor-Leste. The United Nations has the right to know the political situation of the country. In addition, Mr. Zacarias said that during his visit, he would also like to meet members of the General Assembly, Ambassadors, the SRSG and representatives from ESCAP to discuss the extension of UN assistance in Timor-Leste. (TP)
Nino Pereira: the Alliance government is constitutional
The Spokesperson of the Alliance Youth, Nino Pereira, said that the Xanana-led government is constitutional, legitimate and legal based on Art. 106 of the Timorese Constitution. Mr. Pereira said that the Alliance Youth is unhappy with political leaders who continue to say that the Alliance government is unconstitutional or that it is a de facto government. "These kinds of statements, without a proper explanation of what they mean, do not help in educating the people," said Mr. Pereira. (DN)
Police to provide security at the airport
The acting Commander of PNTL, Afonso de Jesus, said that the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) and UNPol will provide security at the airport as some public servants and people do not feel secure in the area. (DN)
ISF and F-FDTL conduct joint operation in Lospalos
The Commander of the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) in Timor-Leste, Cpl Ben Sanders said that the ISF conducts joint operations with the F-FDTL in Lautem District to maintain peace and stability for the local community. Furthermore, Mr. Sanders explained that the ISF is present in Lospalos to assist and reconstruct the F-FDTL. (DN)
No Xanana, no independence
The MP from the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mr. Riak Leman, asked the political leaders to respect Xanana. He said that without Xanana, Timor-Leste would not be independent. "Even though there is Lu-Olo, Konis Santana, Mau-Hunu, Mau-Hudu, Mau- Laka and others, our teacher is still Xanana," said Mr. Riak Leman. In response to Mr. Leman's statement, the MP from Fretilin, David Dias Ximenes said "We all agree that Xanana is a veteran. Alkatiri is also a veteran. Nicolau Lobato and Ramos Horta, are the second generation just like Xanana." "I used to criticize Xanana, but that did not mean that I did not respect him," said Mr. David Dias. (DN and STL)
Alfredo's case sets bad precedent for justice
The MP from Fretilin, Arsenio Bano, said that the dialogue between the state and Alfredo will set a bad precedent for the justice system. The mandate was to capture Alfredo and now he wants to have a dialogue. "This means that others could request a dialogue even after they commit a crime," said Mr. Bano. Mr. Bano also urged the government to clarify the Alfredo case whetther this is a political or criminal case. (STL)
Xanana: "I have given my apology"
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said that he has apologized to the Timorese people especially those in the East for his televised speech on March 13 2006. In his speech on TVTL on 13 March 2006, Mr. Xanana Gusmao, who was the President of the republic at that time, unintentionally said that the people from Manatuto to Oecusse were products of militias who instigated sporadic violence throughout Dili and caused thousands of people to flee their homes and these people are still IDPs today.
In response to Mr. Xanana's statement, Fretilin's Secretary- General, Mr. Mari Alkatiri said that it is too late for the Prime Minister to apologize. He should go to court for using illegal forces to kill people in Same. According to Mr. Alkatiri, the presence of the Australian forces should be considered illegal as the agreement has not yet been ratified. (DN)
NP approves Alliance government's program; Fretilin opposes decision
The National Parliament approved the new government's development programme for the fiscal period of 2007/2008. Fretilin opposed the Parliament's decision and rejected the government's programme saying that it did not have any substance and it was unconstitutional. In his statement, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said that the approved programme must be implemented and carried out properly for the development of the country. (TP)
Solving Alfredo case necessary for stability
The Parish priest of Suai, Father Natalino Sousa Gama, said that stability and security will only come after the issue of Alfredo and the petitioners is solved. Father Natalino asked the government to not only make promises but to implement what they promise. (TP)
The Alliance is committed to solving Alfredo's case
The Task Force Team stated that the Alliance government is committed to solving the case of Alfredo and the petitioners through dialogue. The Secretary State of Security, Francisco Guterres, said that at the present the team is identifying how best to carry out the dialogue. (STL and DN)
Tilman: It's difficult for the government to execute its program
MP Manuel Tilman from KOTA said that it will be difficult for the Alliance government to execute its program since Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao started his speech with an offensive statement against Fretilin. According to Mr. Tilman, the offensive statement of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao shows that the Alliance has not made peace with Fretilin. "Our Prime Minister perhaps has a problem with Fretilin, there has been no reconciliation between them, so when he made his presentation, he started by trying to provoke Fretilin. In my opinion, this is not good," said Mr. Tilman. Aniceto Guterres, Fretilin MP, also said that Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's speech was a political statement and not a presentation of the government's program, since Xanana said that his government will not collapse. (DN and TP)
Judge Ivo Rosa: I will not end the warrant to capture Alfredo
International Judge Ivo Rosa said that he will not end the warrant to capture Alfredo Reinado Alves. "I will maintain my position to not end the warrant, but if there is appeal from Claudio, I will end it &he is the only one who can intervene in the decision of a judge to give a warrant to capture such a suspect," said Judge Ivo. (DN)
Francisco Guterres: the government to restructure PNTL
State Secretary for Security Francisco Guterres said that the government will prepare to restructure the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) in order to make it a legitimate police force. "We are preparing to hold consultations. It's important to have every stakeholders' viewpoint so that we have a model for policing that the whole country agrees with," said Mr. Guterres on Thursday (13/9) in the national parliament. (DN)
There are those for and against halting the mandate to capture Alfredo
It appears there are differences emerging amongst judicial authorities regarding halting the mandate of capturing Alfredo Reinado. The international judge Ivo Rosa, who issued the mandate is maintaining his position, however the Attorney-general, Longuinhos Monteiro said that the mandate has failed. (TP)
Alkatiri: the government isn't brave enough to go to the east
The Secretary-general of Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri has said that the members of government are not brave enough to travel to the east of the country because there is little confidence in them there. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday (11/9) after his visit to Indonesia Mr. Alkatiri said he hoped the president Jose Ramos-Horta would see this and use his competencies to assist the country's development."We recognize that the president is legitimate and expect that Mr. Horta will use his competencies to strengthen this country," said Mr. Alkatiri (TP)
Carrascalao: Notable Commission's report has no credibility
The president of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Viegas Carrascalao said that the report by the Commission of Notables has no credibility, because it has not been implemented. Speaking to journalist on Wednesday (12/9) at the parliament, Mr. Carrascalao said it has no value. "I totally lament to not only notable commission's report has not implemented yet, but also until now people has not known the report from international investigation," said Mr. Mario. (TP)
UNPol's not professional, government to give the role to PNTL
The member of national parliament from CNRT party, Carmelita Moniz affirmed that it is the time for government to give the power of security to PNTL. In her intervention during the plenary section yesterday in the parliament, she said the members of PNTL who have passed the screening test have had sufficient training to guarantee the stability and security of the country. "As we know the powers of security in the country are in the hands of UNPol, who got mandate from the former government, but it is obvious over the past year that UNPol has not been sufficient or professional. They always attend incidents late," said Ms. Moniz. (TP)
Carrascalao: government has to solve IDPs case immediately
The parliament member from the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mario Viegas Carrascalao said that it has been one month since the Government took power and there is no sign yet of how to resolve the problem of internally displaced people. Mr Carrascalao has questioned why there is no directly explanation, stated intention or declaration about any measures to solve the problem. "This government needs to prioritise the problem immediately," he said on Wednesday (12/9) at the parliament. (DN)
Hasegawa meets Longuinhos, discuss KII reports and other violence
The Attorney-general, Longuinhos Monteiro has received a visit by the former SRSG, Mr Sukehiro Hasegawa in Dili to discuss the Commission of Inquiry and the security situation in the country. Mr. Longuinhos said that Mr. Hasegawa has a strong commitment to both areas of discussion. (DN)
The state to end the warrant to capture Alfredo Reinado
The state will consult with the president of the court of appeal, Claudio Ximenes, to find a solution with regards to the warrant to capture Alfredo Reinado Alves. Speaking to the journalists after the High Level meeting on Tuesday (11/9), Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said that they are waiting for Mr. Claudio Ximenes who is presently on leave. "When he comes back, we will look at the warrant for the capture of Mr. Reinado," said Mr. Gusmao. He added that the state should talk to the organs of the state, since the state should not intervene directly in the judicial process. He said that the task force has been established and is composed of the secretary of state for defence and representatives from other organs which have an interest in solving the problem. (TP)
New Zealand to train F-FDTL
The Commander of the New Zealand Forces in Timor-Leste, Lieutenant-General Jerry Mateparae, held a meeting with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and the Secretary of State for Defence, Julio Thomas Pinto, on Tuesday (11/9) to discuss improving the capacity of the F-FDTL's members through military training. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Mr.
Julio Thomas Pinto said that New Zealand wants to cooperate with Timor-Leste in defence. "New Zealand will help Timor-Leste, particularly in the defence sector," said Mr. Pinto. He added that Mr. Jerry also informed them that New Zealand is ready to share their experience of military development and is ready to help prepare the training for the members of F-FDTL. (TP and DN)
President of court of appeal backing the CPLP's judges
The Timorese lawyer Benevides Correia Barros suggested that president of the court of appeal Mr. Claudino Ximenes should take a step back following some cases in which the judges of Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (CPLP) intervened. Mr. Correia stated that as the president of the court, Mr. Ximenes should send back such judges when their duties come to an end. "Mr. Ximenes should not constantly defend them in this country and extend their contracts," said Mr. Correia on Tuesday (11/9). He added that CPLP judges could work instead in Timor-Leste as advisors and not intervene directly in such cases. (TP)
Xanana to lead the 'Task Force' dialogue with Alfredo
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said that the 'Task Force' established by the government will hold a dialogue with Alfredo Reinado Alves and his followers. He stated that the 'Task Force' will be led other members of the government, such as the State Secretary of the Defence. Speaking to the journalists after the High Level Meeting on Tuesday (11/9) in the Presidential Palace in Caicoli, Mr. Gusmao said that the 'Task Force' has been formed to engage in dialogue with Mr. Reinado Alves it is however on hold until the president of the court of appeal, Mr. Claudio Ximenes, returns from leave. (DN)
Benevides Barros: "Alfredo wants to be judged by the Norwegian judge"
The lawyer of Alfredo Reinado Alves, Benevides Correia Barros, reportedly said that after the dialogue, his client Reinado wants to be judged by the Norwegian judges, and that Reinado himself totally rejects the judges from Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (CPLP). Speaking to journalists on Tuesday (11/9) in Hotel Timor, Mr. Barros said that Mr. Reinado rejects the possibility that the judges from CPLP should preside over his case, because the CPLP's judges went against the decision of President JosA(c) Ramos-Horta to officially halt the operation on 19 June 2007. Mr. Correia added that Mr. Reinado holds the competency of President Horta in highest regard. (DN)
Today the government discusses methods for the dialogue with Alfredo
According to the agenda of the government, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao will lead a ministerial meeting to discuss the available methods of dialogue between Alfredo Reinado Alves and the government to find the best solution. Speaking to the journalists on Tuesday (11/9) in his office, Mr. Julio Thomas Pinto said that there is enough good will to solve Reinado's case. "The location will be prepared by the Prime Minister and the National Unity Movement for Justice (MUNJ)," said Mr. Pinto. (STL)
Hasegawa: promise to contribute to Timor-Leste development
The former Special Representative of Secretary General (SRSG) of the United Nations in Timor-Leste, Dr. Sukehiro Hasegawa met Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres and promise to contribute to the country's development. "Even though Mr. Hasegawa is now in Japan, he still loves Timor-Leste and wants to talk to the government, opposition and the civil society and continue to contribute," said Mr. Luis Guterres. The vice Prime Minister also said that the former SRSG wants Timor-Leste to recover from last year's crisis. (TP and STL)
Alkatiri: the Alliance to collapse; Bishop Basilio: a warn to self-improvement
Bishop Basilio said the strong opposition is assisting the Government to move forward. The Bishop said having a strong critic, such as the Secretary-General of Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri, is a solid warning for the Alliance Government to have a strong future programme. "The government will be strong when there is a strong opposition. The government should exercise care and it needs to listen to the opposition. The objective of Alkatiri's statement is not to make the government collapse, but to improve its performance and exhibit transparency and accountability," said Bishop Basilio. (TP and STL)
Jose Luis: government has effort to solve Reinado's case
The Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres has met with the coordinator of the National Unity Movement for Justice (MUNJ) to discuss the case of Alfredo Reinado. "We have discussed the problem but we need to be careful not to create expectations that the problem of Reinado or the petititioners will be solved today or tomorrow," said Mr. Guterres. He said it's a complex problem and that the government is working on it. (TP)
Fretilin to conduct national retreat, insist against the position of PM Xanana
Fretilin is having a national retreat on the 28th September in the district of Same and will reflect on the recent situation, including the future political plan for the party. Arsenio Bano, the vice president of Fretilin said that members of other political parties invited, including the social society to participate the national retreat of Fretilin. Mr. Bano also said that the national retreat will discuss Fretilin's rejection against the President's decision in forming the new government. (TP)
The government gives two options to Alfredo Reinado
The Government has reportedly made the offer of Ermera and Suai district as places for Alfredo Reinado and his groups to stay during the process of dialogue. The offer has reported been agreed to, but Reinado is yet to nominate in which location he will stay. During the dialogue, the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) have been requested to stay 20km away from the talks. The lawyer of Reinado, Benevides Barros said Reinado needs the Catholic Church to mediate the process of dialogue and the Humanitarian Center of Dialogue will be the facilitator of the dialogue. (STL)
The Alliance copying Fretilin's program
The Fretilin's MP in the national parliament have voiced their discontent about the Alliance government's program, which they say is directly copied from the previous government's programme. Aniceto Lopes, a Fretilin MP, said the Alliance government has proven its incompetence in developing its own, original programme both during the election campaign and now it's in Government. (STL)
Tilman: Solving Alfredo's case, the failure of general prosecutor
Manuel Tilman, MP from KOTA said that the unsolved case of Alfredo Reinado should be considered a failure of the Prosecutor General's. (PGR). "It has bee the Prosecutor General's failure that this case has not been transparent or professionally dealt with. "Some days ago the Prosecutor met with Reiando but he did not arrest him, this is a failure of the Prosecutor," said Mr. Tilman on Friday (7/9) in Memorial Hall, Dili. (TP)
Reconciliation, to end conflict between the Alliance and Fretilin
The organization of no parliamentary political parties known as Progreessive Democratic League (LDP) has stated the only way to end the conflict between the Alliance and Fretilin is through political reconciliation.
"I think political reconciliation should be conducted to solve the conflict between the Alliance and Fretilin. It may be that the structure of the Alliance be revised or the Alliance embraces all the districts and sub-districts administrators of Fretilin in order to solve the conflict," said Hermenegildo Lopes, the spokesperson of LDP.
Mr. Lopes also said that if there is another election the LDP will moving forward as a block. Before and during the campaign, LDP will appear with its own head of parliament, prime minister, ministers and MPs to have a strong legitimacy for the people. (STL)
Lucia Lobato: "East Timorese are ready, international judges going home"
In her speech on the celebration of General Assembly Constituent Timorese Lawyers Association, the minister of justice, Lucia Lobato said that if the East Timorese are ready to carry on the judicial process, the international judges, prosecutors and lawyers will leave Timor-Leste.
"Someday the Timorese will be ready and the international judges will leave East Timor as they only work here temporarily," said Ms. Lobato. "At the present we have been training judges, prosecutors and lawyers and we all have to proud of them," she added. (STL)
Riak Leman: Xanana is using his capability solving Alfredo's case
The MP from Social Democratic Party (PSD), Riak Leman guaranteed that Prime Minister Xanana GusmC#o will use his political experience to solve Reinado's case as he is a well-known figure.
"Even though some groups have an aversion to him, we know that Xanana is a leader who has wide range influence and support from many people. The Prime Minister with his members of the government will solve the case of Alfredo in short time," said Mr. Riak Leman. (DN)
Mateus Fernandes: PNTL has identified the actors of violence
The Deputy Operational Commander of the National Police of Timor- Leste (PNTL), Mateus Fernandes said that those involved in the recent violence have been identified based upon concrete evidence. Mr. Fernandes also said that the PNTL along with UNPol and ISF are working together to identify people who involved in the violence and crime. (DN)
Fernanda: a big structure of government, but may have no capacity
The MP from National Unity Party (PUN), Fernanda Borges said that the structure of the Alliance government is bigger than the previous government. Ms. Borges also said that if the members of this big structure have no capacity, it will be a disaster for the nation's development. "Previously they said that Fretilin-led government was big, but now the government is as big as the national parliament, it's nonsense," said Ms. Borges in the national parliament on Thursday (6/9). (TP)
NP to establish auditing commission
The national parliament is going to establish an auditing commission to investigate the work of the previous government. "The commission is not going to investigate the Fretilin-led government only, but also the new government, because we cannot guarantee that the new government will have no mistakes," said Dusae, MP of CNRT. (TP) m
>Longuinhos deserves to be the PNTL commander
The former PNTL commander, Paulo de Fatima Martins has said the new PNTL commander should have a legal background and that the Attorney-General Longuinhos Monteiro would be deserving of the role. "I think the new Commander should have legal competency as well as domestic and international experience," said Mr Martins in the national parliament, Dili. (STL)
Cicilio: president needs to clarify reasons why the new government went to the Alliance
The member of the national parliament from CNRT, Cicilio Caminha said that the national parliament and the president should go to the rural areas to explain why the Alliance was allowed to form government. Speaking to journalists on Thursday (06/09) at the parliament, Mr. Caminha revealed that Fretilin's flags were erected across the eastern part of the country to express dissatisfaction over how government was formed. (DN)
Timotio: still no law stopping the capture of Alfredo
The Director of the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP), Timotio de Deus said the court does not have the authority to withdraw the mandate to capture Alfredo Reinado. Speaking to journalists on Thursday (06/09) in JSMP's office in Dili M de Deus explained that the Court is not able to withdraw the mandate and furthermore, no Judge has ordered the mandate be withdrawn. He also revealed that the Court maintains its position the need for Alfredo Reinado to face justice. (DN)
The petitioners are ready to collaborate with Xanana
The petitioners group does have the good will to collaborate with the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmco to commence dialogue between them, the state, and Alfredo. Speaking to journalists on Thursday (06/09) after meeting with the Vice Prime Minister, Jose Luis Guterres at Government Palace, Mr. Agostu de Araujo alias Tara said they had met to discuss what solutions could be found to solve the case of Alfredo Reinado and the petitioners. (STL)
FRETILIN suggests to legalize ISF Mandate
Fretilin party chief, Aniceto Guterres, clarified the misunderstanding that Fretilin rejected the presence of the ISF in Timor-Leste. He explained that Fretilin did not object to the extension of ISF's mandate but proposed that the Parliament ratify the treaty which brought in the ISF in order to clarify ISF's responsibilities in Timor-Leste. (ND)
ISF will not be involved in dialogue between Alfredo and Government
ISF Commander John Hutcheson said that the ISF will not be involved in the dialogue between Major Alfredo and the Timorese Government. He clarified that the ISF will not take part in the dialogue without government authorization. (ND)
Not True: ISF Soldier Lost in Baucau
ISF Commander John Hutcheson denied the rumors that an ISF soldier went missing during an operation in Baucau. (ND)
Government Presents Transitional Program to National Parliament
The Fourth Constitutional Government led by Mr. Kayrala Xanana Gusmao will present its transitional program to the National Parliament this week. (ND)
ISF ready to carry out Alfredo's request
ISF Commander John Hutcheson said that Major Alfredo Reinado has requested the ISF to be posted 20 kms away from the venue of the dialogue between him and the Government. Mr. Hutchenson said that the ISF is ready to carry out this request if the Government approves and requests them directly. (STL)
Mari: It will not be long before Xanana's Government collapses
In an interview with Timor Post, the Secretary-General of Fretilin, Mr. Mari Alkatiri, said that his party believes that it will not be long before the government led by Prime Minister Kayrala Xanana Gusmao collapses. He said that Fretilin will not use any violence as it has other ways to deal with the fall of the Alliance-led government. (TP)
PNTL attacked, Alkatiri strongly condemns the criminal acts
Two members of PNTL were reportedly attacked on Sunday (02/9) by unidentified people with knives and machetes in the sub-village of Ariana, sub-district Venilale, Baucau district. The SRSG in Timor-Leste, Mr. Atul Khare said that no injuries resulted from the incident as the PNTL members defended themselves by firing two warning shots to disperse a group of 50 people.
Mr. Khare denied reports that shots were directed to the group. He said that the GNR also responded to the incident; however they did not manage to identify anyone in possession of weapons. "GNR managed to help the two PNTL members of in the scene," said Mr. Khare at a press conference on Monday (03/9) at the UNMIT HQ in Dili. Mr. Atul also informed that the Secretary-General of the Fretilin party, Mr. Mari Alkatiri condemned the criminal acts and violence that broke out in the eastern part of the country and called on UNPol to take the necessary measures. (TP)
Lasama: do not use private interests to say that ISF is illegal
The NP President, Mr. Fernando de Araujo Lasama defended the presence of the International Stabilization Forces (ISF) in Timor-Leste; he said that it was a legal decision made through the signing of an accord. Mr. Lasama urged not to use private interests to say that the ISF presence in the country is illegal.
"I think all of us should be realistic and not mix reality with our private interests. It is publicly known to all the Timorese people that the ISF was officially invited by the former Prime Minister, Mr. Mari Alkatiri, the former President of the Parliament, Mr. Francisco Guterres and the former President, Mr. Kayrala Xanana Gusmco. Furthermore, he explained that the decision on the extension of the ISF mandate will depend on the security situation in the country. (TP)
UNMIT approves of dialogue with Alfredo
SRSG Atul Khare said that the best way to deal with the case of Alfredo Reinado Alves is through peaceful means. Speaking to journalists on Monday (03/9) at the UNMIT weekly press conference held in Dili, Mr. Khare said that Mr. Reinado should submit himself (and his weapons) to justice. (TP)
PNTL ready to take back its role when screening process ends
The interim commander on PNTL, Mr. Afonso de Jesus said that the PNTL is ready to take on its responsibilities. "We are ready to take back our role as the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) to providde security and community support. The PNTL screening process is ongoing but some PNTL officers are already on duty. (TP)
CNRT pushing to audit Fretilin
The MP from CNRT, Mr. Aderito Hugo asked the government to perform an audit on the financial transactions made by the Fretilin-led government. "The previous government has been replaced but an audit is needed in order to know what they did during those five years," said Mr. Hugo on Monday (3/9) at the national parliament. (STL)
PNTL reform, UN to assist Timor-Leste
SRSG Atul Khare said that the UN will assist the government of Timor-Leste in reforming the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) in order to have a professional and credible force. "The UN in Timor-Leste will assist the government of Timor-Leste to reform PNTL," said Mr. Atul Khare at a press conference on Monday (3/9) at Obrigado Barracks, Dili. (DN)
UN to be in Timor-Leste until 2012, ISF 2008
President Jose Ramos-Horta has asked the United Nations to stay in Timor-Leste until 2012. The president is also asking the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard to maintain ISF to provide security for the Timorese people until 2008. The head of state said that UN Police and UN civilians could be reduced when the conditions and situation in Timor-Leste permits it. "I have spoken about this with the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer," said the president. (TP)
Alfredo needs protection
The dialogue between Alfredo and the government will commence soon according to the Fretilin Member of Parliament Aresenio Bano. "During the dialogue the state and government will be responsible for providing protection so as to decrease anyone feeling threatened. This means that the state will need to sincerely look forwards to solve the problem of Reinado and the petitutioners," said Mr Bano in the national parliament on Tuesday (28/8). (STL)
Fernando Dias: ISF invited by the state
The leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Fernando Dias said that the presence of International Stabilization Forces (ISF) is legal and invited by the state. "There was an accord signed by President Xanana (now prime Minister), president of the National Parliament and the then- Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri," said Mr. Dias. However, Mr. Fernando also said that as the MPs of the first national parliament, they know nothing about the terms of reference on the presence of the ISF mandate and time duration in Timor-Leste. (DN)
Cornelio/L-7: disagree with some member of the new government
The president of UNDERTIM, Cornelio Gama/L-7 said he is concerned that some members of the new government have committed crimes. Speaking to journalists, Mr Gama said that the members of government who were involved in committing crimes should be brought to the tribunal. (DN)
Arsenio Bano: president has no coherence solving Alfredo's problem
The Fretilin MP Arsenio Bano said that President Jose Ramos-Horta is not capable of solving the Alfredo Reinado issue because he has no coherence on initiatives. "Having dialogue with Alfredo was initiated when he was still the prime minister but with no continuity. Sometimes he wants to talk with him, sometimes he wants to arrest him and sometimes he wants to set him free. "Some F-FDTL members and others have already been jailed, but Alfredo's case is used by politicians for their interests," said Mr. Florindo. (DN)