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East Timor News Digest 7 - July 1-31, 2004

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 Transition & reconstruction

Timor's struggle to plan a future with reduced aid

Day to Day show - July 14, 2004

Alex Chadwick, host: This is Day to Day. I'm Alex Chadwick.

The world's newest nation, East Timor, celebrated its second birthday in May without much to really celebrate. Most of the 800,000 people are poor. Foreign donors provide as much as half the country's annual budget.

That's only $80 million a year, but already donor nations are warning the aid will be cut. East Timor is going to have to provide for itself, which means a new dispute with an until-now friendly neighbor is a big problem. NPR's Michael Sullivan reports.

Michael Sullivan reporting: Outside a small three-room school in East Timor's Liquica district, children play tag as they wait for classes to begin. Nearby, a large pile of palm fronds cleared by local farmers burns fiercely in the morning sun.

Five years ago, much of the country was in flames after East Timor citizens voted for independence from Indonesia. After the vote, marauding Indonesian militias looted and burned as much as they could before withdrawing.

Schoolteacher Markita Suarez Trindaday is glad those times are over. Now she's waiting for better times, especially for her students.

Ms. Markita Suarez Trindaday (Schoolteacher): (Through Translator) We have desks and chairs now donated by UNICEF, but we still don't have enough books for the children. Sometimes we have to collect money from them just to buy the paper for them to use in their exams.

Sullivan: She says many of her students have told her they'll have to leave school soon, their families unable to afford the fees of 50 cents a month.

Keryn Clark is East Timor country director for Oxfam Australia.

Ms. Keryn Clark (Oxfam Australia): East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Asia, with over 40 percent of the population living under the poverty line of 50 cents a day. You've got infant mortality of one per 10 children reach the age of five. Access to schools, access to health posts are very, very low. So I think, at all levels, we're dealing with a very, very poor country with very low education levels and a government that has very, very few resources to address these issues.

Sullivan: East Timor was poor long before the vote for independence and the terrible destruction that accompanied it. There is no industry here to speak of. Most eke out a living either farming or fishing.

(Soundbite of a man speaking in a foreign language)

Sullivan: Not far from the elementary school, a dozen men surround a battered wooden boat, picking small red fish from a net. Today's catch wasn't very good, the boat's owner, Jom Dey Susa(ph), says. He hopes tomorrow's will be better.

Mr. Jom Dey Susa (Boat Owner): (Through Translator) Every day is different. It all depends on the ocean. If the situation in the ocean is good, then we will make good money. But if the situation in the ocean is not good, we get very little.

Sullivan: The situation in the ocean is good, very good, a little more than 100 miles offshore in the Timor Sea. There lie vast reserves of oil and natural gas worth as much as $30 billion. Oil and gas revenue, East Timor's leaders say, are key to the country's economic survival. Without those resources, they warn, East Timor could quickly become a failed state.

Mari Alkatiri is East Timor's prime minister.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri (East Timor): It's extremely important for us because people are expecting something, they were fighting for 24 years, resisting, with this kind of expectation. And we need to respond to their expectation.

Sullivan: The trouble is, East Timor's neighbor, Australia, is claiming the lion's share of projected oil and gas revenues. It insists the most promising area, which includes what's known as the Greater Sunrise field, belongs to Australia under an agreement reached with Indonesia in the mid-1970s, when East Timor was still a colony. East Timor insists that agreement is no longer valid, and wants to negotiate a new boundary with Australia. Australia isn't interested. Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer...

Mr. Alexander Downer (Australian Foreign Minister): First of all, East Timor makes claims that we don't accept. And we have very long maritime boundaries with other countries, in particular Indonesia, and we're not shifting all of our maritime boundaries and abandoning very long-standing principles of international maritime law. And secondly, it's a curious principle, that if one country is richer than another and the two countries are adjacent to it, the richer country should cede territory to the poorer country. And on that principle, I suppose the United States should cede Texas to Mexico or something. I mean, it's not the way those inequities in wealth are addressed.

Sullivan: Australia also says it's been more than generous already. Australian troops led the international peacekeeping force sent to East Timor after the vote for independence. And since then, Australia has been one of East Timor's largest donors. In addition, the Australians argue that East Timor already receives 90 percent of the revenue from another smaller field under an interim agreement it signed with Australia two years ago. East Timor's Prime Minister Alkatiri calls that a smoke screen. The Greater Sunrise field, he says, is worth far more.

Prime Min. Alkatiri: I made it clear that we are not asking for generosity. We are claiming for our rights based on international law and the law, clearly, that their arguments are baseless, legally baseless. And what they are trying now is to use their power as big brothers in these regions, and to use this kind of power to get what through legal base they will never get.

Sullivan: Many familiar with international maritime law, including the law of the sea, say that East Timor has a good case, given that the most lucrative field, Greater Sunrise, lies roughly 125 miles south of East Timor and more than 300 miles north of Australia. Australia insists the agreement it made with Indonesia will stand, and has withdrawn from an arbitration process set up to resolve maritime disputes at the International Court of Justice. Again, Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer.

Mr. Downer: I make this point. If we were to go to, say, the International Court of Justice, which is what one of their negotiators wants us to do, it could take a decade to have the matter resolved. So I would've thought it was much better, since we've always got to reside side by side with each other, that we're able to negotiate in a civilized and constructive way. I know that they think that part of their negotiating tactic should be to try to shame us into concessions, but we won't be shamed into concessions.

Sullivan: If East Timor had its way, almost all of the disputed resources in the Timor Sea would fall under its control. Prime Minister Alkatiri acknowledges that isn't likely to happen. And he says he's open to compromise and what he calls a fair solution. The two sides sat down in April for their first meeting to try to resolve their differences.

Another meeting will be held later this year. Some fear the dispute could drag on for years, even decades, but Prime Minister Alkatiri says he's not worried. 'We waited 24 years for independence,' Alkatiri says. 'We can wait a little longer to get what's fair here.' Michael Sullivan, NPR News, Dili, East Timor.

(Soundbite of music)

Chadwick: I'm Alex Chadwick and this is Day to Day.

 Timor Gap

East Timor suggests mediation for sea border dispute

Radio Australia - July 21, 2004

Reporter: Tanya Nolan

Tony Eastely: East Timor says that if it can't resolve its differences with Australia over maritime rights it wants New Zealand to step in as a mediator. The idea was floated by the country's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, in a speech he gave in Sydney last night.

East Timor and Australia are about to embark on their second round of talks on a permanent sea border. If the first round is anything to go by, then New Zealand might be needed.

As Tanya Nolan reports, both sides are looking further apart than ever, over who has rights to the billions of dollars in oil and gas reserves.

Tanya Nolan: He may not have convinced the Australian Government of East Timor's right to any more of the huge reserves of oil and gas in the Timor sea, but there was no doubt Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta had the Sydney audience on his side last night.

(Sound of applause).

And it was to this adoring crowd that the Nobel prize winner put his proposition.

Jose Ramos Horta: If Timor Leste and Australia cannot resolve this dispute, why not get New Zealand? You know, it's a small country, very neutral.

Besides, New Zealand would be more favorable to Australia, because after all, you people are cousins. We are no cousins of New Zealand, so Australia should trust New Zealand as an independent neutral mediator.

Tanya Nolan: The second round of negotiations on a permanent maritime sea boundary between the two countries are planned for September, but both sides are digging their heels in.

East Timor maintains the current boundary agreed to by Australia and Indonesia in 1972 is costing it a million dollars a day in lost oil and gas revenues from the Laminaria Reserve.

But senior policymaker with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Bill Patterson made it clear that Australia's position is strong at law.

Bill Patterson: Australia does not accept East Timor's ambit claims to areas outside the Joint Petroleum Development Authority area and on Australia's side of the 1972 Australia-Indonesia seabed boundary. These are areas of exclusive Australian sea-bed jurisdiction and have been for over 30 years.

Tanya Nolan: But East Timor argues that international law upholds its view that a median line should determine the boundary, which would give it total sovereignty over an area much larger and more valuable than that negotiated under the oil and gas treaty agreed to with Australia in 2002.

Under that agreement, the fledgling nation is set to reap more than $3 billion from the Bayu-undan oilfield alone.

But much more could be made by both countries out of the greater sunrise field, and Bill Patterson was applying pressure on East Timor to ratify the all-important unitisation agreement to kick- start production.

Bill Patterson: I don't want to overstate this point too much, but it is of course difficult to negotiate with confidence with a government which has refused to follow on... follow through on a previously negotiated agreement.

Tanya Nolan: But Mari Alkatiri is holding out for now and his strident criticism of the Federal Government's handling of the current negotiations hasn't gone down well in Canberra.

Despite the impasse, both sides remain confident of reaching a satisfactory agreement, without the involvement of New Zealand, or any other outside mediator.

Tony Eastely: Tanya Nolan reporting.

Downer warns Timor over tactics in gas dispute

Radio Australia - July 21, 2004

Reporter: Nance Haxton

Mark Colvin: The Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has strongly rebuffed criticisms and complaints from East Timor over the controversial Sunrise Gas Field negotiations.

Mr Downer was responding to comments by East Timor's Nobel prize-winning Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, last night that Australia should be more willing to compromise on its sea border boundaries.

Nance Haxton reports from Adelaide.

Nance Haxton: Negotiations between Australia and East Timor over the permanent maritime sea boundary have been moving slowly as the two sides harden their positions.

The second round of talks start in September, with millions of dollars in lucrative gas reserves on the line.

East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, says his country has a strong case.

Jose Ramos Horta: On our side we have very, very solid legal grounds. We are supremely confident and we will be prepared to go to the International Court of Justice. We will be prepared to accept arbitration and we will honour whatever result.

Nance Haxton: East Timor is trying to put pressure on Australia by refusing to pass legislation allowing the exploitation of the multi-billion dollar Sunrise Field in the Timor Sea.

The East Timor claim is that setting the boundary at the mid point between Timor and Australia would give it ownership of the whole Sunrise project. Australia though says that its claim is based on the reach of its continental shelf.

While negotiations drag on, East Timor says it's losing a million dollars a day from resources that are in dispute and which Australia should not be exploiting. Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, says East Timor should take a more conciliatory approach.

Alexander Downer: The vast majority of the Australian people don't appreciate the abuse that's been meted out at Australia after all we've done for East Timor, and I don't think it's a tactic that will work, and I've explained that to the East Timorese, that it's not a wise tactic.

You catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. Nance Haxton: Jose Ramos Horta has floated the idea of New Zealand acting as a third country mediator in the ongoing dispute.

The reason for that is that Australia in 2002 announced that it would no longer accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice on border issues. That means that East Timor can only negotiate bilaterally with Australia and formal conferences on the boundary are taking place only twice a year.

However Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says bringing in New Zealand is unnecessary.

Alexander Downer: The East Timorese have made the judgment that they think a sort of high campaign of rhetoric is gonna help their cause. We just quietly have negotiations with them and don't negotiate in public.

Nance Haxton: But Mr Downer, given that Australia has renounced the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in this matter though, wouldn't it be appropriate for a neutral intermediary such as New Zealand to help out?

Alexander Downer: No, Australia has been a proud and independent country for a very long time, and we're able to look after our own negotiations as we did with the Papua New Guineans, as we did with the New Zealanders themselves, and we can do all of that ourselves.

Mark Colvin: Alexander Downer with Nance Haxton.

Let NZ mediate on Timor Sea: Democrats

Australian Associated Press - July 21, 2004

The Australian Democrats have backed a call for New Zealand to mediate in negotiations between East Timor and Australia over the Timor Sea boundary.

The mediation is expected to determine the seabed boundary, thereby dividing control of an estimated $30 billion in royalties from Timor Sea oil and gas deposits.

Australia has already won 82 per cent of the royalties from the Timor Sea's $8 billion Greater Sunrise field in a previous deal, but this is yet to be ratified by the East Timorese parliament.

Democrats foreign affairs spokesperson Natasha Stott Despoja said East Timor's suggestion that NZ act as mediator in the boundary negotiations made sense.

"Given the very different positions Australia and East Timor have adopted over the Timor Sea boundary and the massive disparity in their power, it makes sense to introduce an independent mediator to the negotiation process," Senator Stott Despoja said.

"While New Zealand's involvement in this process would be a step forward, the ultimate mediator should really be the International Court of Justice."

Senator Stott Despoja said East Timor was currently barred from referring the dispute to the International Court of Justice because a few weeks before the nation gained independence, Australia secretly lodged documents in New York declaring it would no longer submit to the jurisdiction of the Court relating to maritime boundary disputes.

"At the moment, the Australian government is putting its greed ahead of what is right and just," Senator Stott Despoja said.

"Introducing a mediator or referring the matter to the court would dilute the extent to which Australia could use its power to bully East Timor.

"I suspect the Australian government will therefore be reluctant to agree to the involvement of New Zealand or any other independent mediator in the negotiation process.

"In the interests of fairness and the rule of law, Australia should resubmit to the jurisdiction of the court so that, if an agreement cannot be reached on the Timor Sea boundary, the matter could be referred to the court."

Canberra's sea of troubles

Far Eastern Economic Review - July 8, 2004

John McBeth, Dili -- Peter Galbraith is not popular with Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Sharp- minded, egotistical and as combative as East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, the ethnic Yemeni Muslim who hired him, the former American diplomat is the hired gun for the fledgling nation in its David-and-Goliath struggle with Australia over a share of the oil-and-gas riches in the Timor Sea.

It was the late respected United Nations administrator Sergio de Mello, killed in the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, who brought him on board in 2000, first as director of external affairs and later as minister of external affairs in a new transitional administration. The way Galbraith puts it, de Mello "smelt a rat" over Canberra's rush to negotiate a new agreement to replace the controversial Timor Gap Treaty it had signed with Indonesia in 1989 -- seen as a quasi-recognition of Jakarta's 1975 annexation of the former Portuguese colony.

Whatever firepower Galbraith, 53, brings to his job as East Timor's head negotiator, the spectacle of a large country seemingly strong-arming a small, impoverished neighbouring state barely two years old is not going down well with the international community. Nor, for that matter, with a lot of ordinary folk in Australia, where the concept of a "fair go" is ingrained in its egalitarian culture and where Timorese are regarded with affection for helping Australian troops in World War II.

In separate interviews with the REVIEW, Alkatiri and Galbraith sought to play down the importance of the court of public opinion, clearly their most potent weapon in talks that are expected to drag on for at least five more years. Instead, they plug away at the merits of their case under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, whose interpretation, they argue, has evolved far beyond what lies at the heart of Australia's claim: the extension of its continental shelf.

At stake are $12 billion in revenues from Greater Sunrise, an underwater zone containing 9 trillion cubic feet of gas and straddling the northeast fringe of the Timor Gap, now known as the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) under the new Timor Sea Treaty signed in May 2002. While Australia agreed to increase East Timor's share of the Bayu-Undan field, a 3 trillion-4 trillion-cubic-feet gas resource in the southwest corner of the JPDA, from 50% to 90%, it grabbed 82% of Sunrise for itself -- along with the oil from two producing fields close to Bayu-Undan.

Crucially, however, it had little choice under international law than to agree to enter into further talks to establish a maritime boundary between the two neighbours. Much to Canberra's chagrin, after ensuring a cash flow of up to $300 million a year from Bayu-Undan to help underwrite Dili's national budget, Galbraith is now using that concession to push for a median line. That would put Sunrise, which lies 144 kilometres from the Timor coast and fully 270 kilometres from Australia, well inside the seabed claimed by East Timor.

Employing the argument it used in securing an immensely favourable boundary settlement with Indonesia in the early 1970s, Australia's case is based on Article 76 of the Law of the Sea. This recognizes "natural prolongation" -- that the seaward extension of its land territory continues uninterrupted until it disappears into the 3,000-metre-deep Timor Trench, just 50 kilometres off the East Timor coast. To agree to anything less than that would call into question the legal validity of Australia's seabed boundaries with Indonesia, something Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said would be "a deeply unsettling development."

However, in situations where neighbouring states are less than 400 nautical miles (740 kilometres) apart, as in the case of Australia and East Timor, a separate Law of the Sea article requires parties to negotiate an "equitable solution." Retired Portuguese naval officer Nuno Sergio Marques Antunes, a British- educated maritime-law expert and member of East Timor's multinational negotiating team, points to more than 60 cases during the past 20 years in which disputing nations have adopted a median line where continental-shelf claims overlap. "Whatever the circumstances," he asserts, "the midpoint is the starting point for negotiations."

Galbraith and Alkatiri say Australia's decision last year to rule out adjudication by the International Court of Justice underscores the strength of East Timor's case. "We want 100% [of the Sunrise field]," Alkatiri insists. But he also adds: "When you decide to negotiate, it means you are ready to compromise." Galbraith, a former United States ambassador to Croatia who played a leading role in the Balkans peace process, makes it clear Dili will only go so far: "There's not a slightest doubt, the line should be in the middle. Any compromise would have to involve a substantial shift of resources."

Australian officials won't talk publicly about the talks, describing them as confidential. But Canberra's position took a body blow recently when it was disclosed that a key member of the Australian negotiating team, lawyer Dean Bialek, in written and verbal submissions to an Australian parliamentary committee two years ago, questioned whether Australia had the legal right to insist on the prolongation of its continental shelf. He was then a lecturer in international law at the University of Melbourne.

Waiting game

East Timor is even reopening the debate on Australia's contention that the Timor Trench is a subduction zone -- where one tectonic plate (in this case Australia's) slides under another (the Banda Arc plate). It is not a new theory. Senior Indonesian diplomat Hashim Djalal, who participated in the seabed boundary talks with Australia 30 years ago, says his delegation sought to argue for a median line under the then 1958 UN Continental Shelf Convention because of its contention that the meeting point of the two plates was actually north of Timor.

Portugal subsequently rejected Australia's position and the resulting space between the two points agreed on by Australia and Indonesia became known as the Timor Gap. But why Indonesia relented is still the subject of debate.

Djalal explains that Jakarta, a signatory to the 1958 convention, couldn't produce sufficient evidence to prove its theory, while Australia was able to bombard the Indonesians with a mass of data collected by oceanographic-research vessels and navy submarines to back its claim.

Djalal says the Indonesians were unaware of the Timor Sea's oil- and-gas potential at that time. But he also acknowledges that regional politics could have been one reason why Jakarta spurned Portugal's suggestion to form a united front against the Australians. "Indonesia wanted to be a good neighbour after konfrontasi [the armed confrontation in the early 1960s between Indonesia and Malaysia, in which Malaysia was supported by Britain, Australia and New Zealand]," he says.

Since then, however, a number of experts have given new credence to Indonesia's -- and now East Timor's -- case. Some describe the Timor Trench as merely a foreland basin, pointing to the absence of volcanoes on Timor island, compared to the Banda Arc islands of Sumbawa and Flores further to the north. They also note the general lack of seismic activity in the Timor Sea -- activity that would be expected if the trough were a tectonic collision point.

The real debate, however, centres on the Law of the Sea Convention and how long each side is willing to wait out the other. Don Rothwell, a professor of international law at Sydney University, says that by agreeing to the huge difference in the division of royalties for the Bayu-Undan field and the rest of the JPDA, Australia was apparently hoping East Timor would be satisfied. Now that Dili has decided to hang tough, he says, "Australia could continue to negotiate until the cows come home. It is difficult to see whether they could be forced into a forum where the issue could be resolved by a third party."

Alkatiri is prepared to be patient. "Five years is okay," he says. "I'm not prepared to leave my grandchildren to resolve this problem. We're not in a hurry." Both he and Galbraith make it clear that they were in a hurry to secure revenues from Bayu- Undan, where ConocoPhilips has so far only begun extracting condensate from the gas for sale in mostly regional oil markets.

That, says Energy Secretary Jose Taxeira, will provide East Timor with fiscal stability for much of the length of the project. According to Dili's estimates, revenues from Bayu-Undan will rise from $24.5 million this year to $47 million in 2006, when a gas pipeline to Darwin will be complete, to as much as $350 million a year by 2013.

Australia may not be in the mood at this point, but in the end the most expedient solution may be to set aside the issue of a maritime boundary and simply give a larger share of the Sunrise field to East Timor. As Galbraith puts it, "All we need is the benefits as if there was a boundary."

On June 7, in what may foreshadow a possible shift in Canberra's position, Northern Territory Chief Minister Claire Martin urged the two sides to go back to the "royalties-negotiating table" and look for a more favourable revenue split for East Timor. Her advice: De-link the very valid maritime boundary issue from revenue and make a one-off agreement.

Responding, Alkatiri told the Southeast Asia Australia Offshore Conference: "We're open for creative solutions to get Greater Sunrise developed." There is reason for pragmatism in Dili as well. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has so far stayed well out of the dispute, but Djalal contends that if a median line is established, the Timorese might well find themselves in a new dispute, this time with Jakarta, over the ownership of the Sunrise field.

Woodside Energy, the operator of the field, has told the two governments it will need legislative, fiscal and regulatory certainty before it can begin the search for the markets necessary to get the Sunrise project off the ground. In other words, the project will remain on hold.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard's government has shown no such restraint. In the past eight months Canberra has put up three new exploration licences for auction in disputed areas adjacent to Sunrise and Bayu-Undan. It also continues to pocket the $1 million in tax revenue from the small Laminaria and Corallina oilfields.

Lauded in 1999 for sending in troops to rescue the territory from marauding Indonesian-backed militias, Australia now finds itself cast in the role of villain. That makes Australian Sen. Bob Brown squirm. "They're our good neighbour," says the Greens Party member, as anti-Australian protesters kept a vigil outside the Dili hotel where the negotiators were huddled. "We can't just jump the fence and invade their garden."

[Mark Dodd in Darwin contributed to this article.]

Australia could skid on Timor oil

Asia Intelligence Wire - July 21, 2004

Australia -- By the medium of our Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, is presenting a very unattractive face to the world, not least our Pacific and South-East Asian neighbours, as it negotiates with East Timor over borders between the two countries, and rights to some of the oil royalties in the disputed areas.

It is not that Australia lacks a completely arguable case about the proper location of such boundaries, or that our claim would not stand up in international law. It is, rather, that the angry, dismissive and hectoring style of the Foreign Minister as he deals with East Timorese claims over the matter gives the casual outsider more than an impression of an overbearing colonial bully, the more bulldozing and impatient because he knows that there is very little that the tiny nation state can do about it.

And perhaps even the more ugly, given the sycophantic tummy- tickling to which the minister is prone whenever anything arises affecting the interests of the United States. His tough-talking and spite seems reserved only for those in no position to answer back. And he is all the more unfair to imply that Australia's generosity to East Timor -- and its role as a handmaiden of its independence -- would in any manner entitle us to rip off the nation's best chance of some economic basis for developing the nation.

The tone of his dismissals of East Timor's complaints about the fairness of the treaty, and seeming anger at their public criticism of Australia, is to suggest that they are jolly ungrateful and ought to be thankful for what they have. East Timor may well owe something to Australia, and certainly everyone wants good relations between the two countries. But nothing could be more calculated to poison the goodwill than the feeling, genuinely held, that one of the poorest countries on Earth has been consciously treated with great injustice by Australia.

Australia has a good answer, at law, to such a charge. The problem is, however, that international law regarding sea boundaries has always been stacked on the side of countries, such as Australia, with a significant continental shelf extending considerably from its shores. The layman -- even the ordinary Australian layman -- might assume that the basis for a sea boundary agreement was some point middle-distance between the two countries. In this sense, East Timor and its advocates have a simple case to put to the courts of international opinion, to their own population, and even to many Australians who recognise that it is on movement to economic self-sufficiency that the political independence of East Timor depends.

But the boundary we claim starts at the edge of the continental shelf, hundreds of kilometres closer to East Timor and Indonesia, so that the "mid-way" point is greatly to our advantage. That there are substantial known oil and gas deposits, and more expected, underlines the advantage we have. That Australia has negotiated joint exploitation zones, and even in parts of them, what would appear generous preponderance of the royalties to East Timor is beside the point -- the position in Dili really is that all of the zone ought to belong to them.

Complicating the issue is the fact that any significant adjustment to the boundaries would almost certainly spark demands (again against Australia's economic interests) with Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It could also create problems with oil companies already operating in the area, which might not have any right to query any division of royalty spoils but could reasonably complain if they fell under a different, perhaps more unstable, legal regime.

These are perhaps reasons to be firm in negotiations, though it must seem odd to outside observers that it is Australia, which claims that the law is entirely on its side, which flatly rejects either the idea of litigation in the International Court of Justice, or any sort of arbitration.

Mr Downer is right to note some degree of play-acting and ritual denunciation in East Timor's negotiators, and to insist that just as they will promote their country's interests as they see it, so will he promote Australia's. What is, however, increasingly clear is that our interests are not only in securing the maximum income from the oil fields. They also involve Australia's image, in East Timor, in Indonesia, and among other interested observers, who may well in time include that section of the Third World which specialises in blaming everything bad in their countries on the sins of colonials or Western capitalism.

As it is, thanks in great part to Downer and the Government's lead role in promoting the invasion of Iraq, Australia is well placed for such whipping-boy status, and it is easy enough to imagine the script which will be developed to put us in the worst possible light over East Timor. It is that spectre which ought to invite some room for more polite negotiation, some room for concern, and a definite reduction in the bluster of our Foreign Minister.

[Source: Financial Times Information Limited.]

Timor riches in limbo

Australian Associated Press - July 3, 2004

Four years after Australia helped East Timor gain independence the good will is being threatened by a disputed line on the seabed that will decide how revenue from the multi-billion dollar oil and gas deposits is divided.

The stakes are high for both parties. For East Timor, which operates on an annual budget of less than $100 million -- about what the Australian government spends on advertising -- redrawing the seabed boundary would put $US12 billion in its coffers over the next generation, compared with $US4 billion currently.

Australia's concerns centre on the potential political and economic consequences of redrawing the boundary. Australia is determined that East Timor's border will not provide a source of friction with our largest neighbour, Indonesia.

The dispute dates back before Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East Timor. Australia negotiated a seabed boundary with Indonesia but was unable to reach an agreement with Portugal, which was the colonial ruler of East Timor.

In 1989 Indonesia and Australia reached a compromise with the Timor Gap Treaty, effectively sharing equally the income from oil and gas in the area between the two proposed boundaries, known as the "gap".

It is in this zone that the most significant finds of gas and oil have been found to date.

The gap treaty sparked an exploration boom in the Timor Sea that led to a string of oil and gas discoveries -- 16 in the last five years alone.

After Indonesia withdrew from East Timor in 1999, the 1989 gap treaty was declared illegal by the United Nations and East Timor sought to renegotiate the boundary.

Australia has come to the table, but steadfastly refused to redraw the seabed border. It fears Indonesia would query that border and may then seek to renegotiate the entire maritime boundary between Australia and Indonesia.

This would potentially endanger Australia's prospects in a much wider area, estimated to contain around 424 billion cubic metres of gas -- about twice the reserves of the North West Shelf.

Instead, Australia proposed a provisional agreement under which East Timor would get 90 per cent of the taxation and royalty revenue from oil and gas in a joint development zone, but the boundary would be left unchanged.

This led to the signing of the Timor Sea Treaty between Australia and East Timor on May 20, 2002, the day East Timor officially became a sovereign nation.

The treaty gave the security needed for ConocoPhillips and its partners to pour billions of dollars into the Bayu-Undan gas field, which lies entirely in the joint development area with reserves of 400 million barrels of condensate and LPG.

By 2007, tens of millions of much-needed dollars in taxation revenue and royalties should be pouring into East Timor's coffers.

But East Timor now argues that it should be entitled to full sovereignty over the joint development area and that the eastern and western edges between East Timor and Indonesia should be realigned.

A small shift to the west would give East Timor all the royalties from Woodside Offshore Petroleum Pty Ltd's Laminaria oil field -- estimated at about $300 million a year for the next several years.

Luminaria and nearby Corallina started production in November 1999 from one of the world's largest floating production facilities.

Since start up, production has averaged 142,500 barrels per day. But it is the eastern boundary that has the greatest potential to affect the revenue divide.

The current line on the seabed puts 20 per cent of the massive Greater Sunrise gas fields inside the joint development area, with 80 per cent under Australia's seabed. Shifting the line just a few kilometres eastward would reverse the revenue split.

Development of Greater Sunrise, owned by Woodside Energy Ltd (33 per cent), Phillips STL Pty Ltd (30 per cent), Shell Development (Australia) Pty Ltd (27 per cent) and Osaka Gas Australia Pty Ltd (10 per cent), is currently in limbo.

It cannot go ahead until the East Timor parliament ratifies a so-called Unitisation Agreement signed last year which governs how the field is to be taxed and the revenue divided. In the present climate, it may be some time before this occurs.

The Greater Sunrise partners have not yet agreed on a developmental concept for the field, which is estimated to contain 238 billion cubic metres of gas and 320 million barrels of condensate.

Options include processing the gas in East Timor, at the Wickham Point LNG plant at Darwin, or at sea on a ship.

Australia has been in no hurry to resolve the dispute. Two years after East Timor's independence, the first substantial negotiating session was held in April, and another won't be held till at least October.

The issue is more pressing for East Timor. It says that every day the dispute remains unresolved costs it $1 million in oil royalties from Laminaria -- or $1.5 billion since 1999. It wants the royalty money held in escrow until a final agreement has been negotiated.

Australia threatens to suspend boundary talks

Associated Press - July 26, 2004

Canberra -- The government threatened Sunday to suspend the second round of talks with East Timor over a maritime boundary between the two neighbors after the opposition called for a fresh start to negotiations on how seabed oil and gas riches will be shared.

Opposition Labor Party Leader Mark Latham last week promised a fresh start to negotiations with the world's newest nation if he wins elections due this year.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said there was no point in continuing with scheduled talks in September if Labor had withdrawn from its bipartisan support for the government's negotiations.

"If the Labor Party is still going to take the view that it wants to politicize these delicate negotiations, we'll have no choice but to suspend the next round of negotiations," Downer told reporters.

The two nations have agreed to a treaty to carve up a resource- rich area of the Timor Sea.

But the deal is temporary pending a permanent seabed boundary decided between them.

East Timor, the poorest country in Southeast Asia, wants the boundary set at the midpoint between the two nations and estimates that would give it access to up to $12 billion worth of seabed oil and gas reserves.

But Australia wants the border to follow the edge of its continental shelf, which in some places is just 90 miles from East Timor's coastline, and more than 280 miles from northern Australia.

That was the boundary agreed between Australia and East Timor's former ruler, Indonesia.

East Timor argues its is losing to Australia $1 million a day in royalties as companies continue to drill oil and gas on the basis of the old boundary.

The country also accused Australia of dragging out negotiations to exploit its unfair advantage. East Timor wants to hold monthly negotiations on the maritime boundary but Australia will only agree to six monthly meetings.

Editorial: Latham throws oil on troubled Timor talks

The Australian - July 27, 2004

IN their testy negotiations over oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, the Australian and East Timorese sides have been driven solely by their respective national interests. This is good and proper. If Australia wants to provide assistance to East Timor, it should do so through the transparent mechanism of aid, not by giving way on maritime boundaries and ceding bits of Australia. And indeed, Australia has kicked in $235 million in aid to the poor and fledgling nation since it wrested its independence from Indonesia in 1999.

But that sum is dwarfed by the billions of dollars worth of oil and gas believed to be buried under the shallow Timor Sea, between the two countries. An agreement nutted out last year on the $6 billion Bayu-Undan gas field, 500km northwest of Darwin, recognised the predicament of East Timor with a 90:10 revenue- sharing deal in East Timor's favour, within a Joint Petroleum Development Area. The sticking point is the even more lucrative adjacent Greater Sunrise field. Under the maritime boundary claimed by Australia, which is based on geological features, only the 20 per cent of Greater Sunrise that lies within the JPDA benefits East Timor.

The East Timorese want a boundary based on a median line before they will ratify the fiscal and legal arrangements for Greater Sunrise. Australia refuses to be rushed on the boundary talks and, unless one side caves by year's end, investors will take flight.

All this particular china shop needed was a bull, and it has arrived in the shape of Opposition Leader Mark Latham. In one of those thought bubbles that seem to drive his approach to international relations, Mr Latham has floated the idea that under a Labor government, all negotiations including those the East Timorese have signed off on would be reopened.

This has handed Foreign Minister Alexander Downer twin opportunities: he can now politicise the negotiations, using them as a wedge against Labor; and he can put the boundary talks on hold, upping the heat on East Timor.

Mr Latham has shown a tendency to tack to the Right on social policy and throw the Left an occasional sop on foreign affairs. By destabilising the East Timor talks, he has unintentionally mimicked his hero, former US president Richard Nixon, who cruelled the Johnson administration's peace talks in 1968 by telling the South Vietnamese they'd get a better deal under him. Mr Nixon's gambit may have ended up costing hundreds of thousands of lives. Mr Latham's may cost East Timor, or Australia, or both, billions of dollars.

Downer 'playing politics' on Timor talks

ABC News - July 25, 2004

The Federal Opposition says it is the Government that is playing politics over Australia's negotiations with East Timor over the boundaries in the Timor Sea, which determine control over oil and gas reserves.

Opposition Leader Mark Latham says it appears there has been bad blood in the negotiations so far and if Labor is elected, it would restart the talks.

Mr Downer says those "extremely irresponsible" comments have undermined Australia's position, and the talks may have to be suspended.

"We're in the middle of a very delicate and a very difficult negotiation," he said. "We've got the next round of the negotiations scheduled for September. "If the Labor Party is still going to take the view that it wants to politicise these delicate negotiations, we'll have no choice but to suspend the next round of the negotiations... until after the election has taken place."

Mr Downer says Mr Latham does not know what he is talking about. "Look it's just irresponsible politicking and it simply demonstrates Mr Latham's inexperience and naivety," he said.

But Labor's Kevin Rudd says the Opposition policy on East Timor was released in January. "Six months later Alexander Downer decides to make a political case out of it," he said. "I'd suggest that what you've got here is a clear illustration of Mr Downer constantly acting as a domestic political commentator on the Labor Party, rather than acting as the Foreign Minister of Australia."

The Australian Government is claiming ownership of an oil-rich continental shelf two-thirds of the way across the Timor Sea, while East Timor wants the boundary drawn mid-way.

Last month East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said a half- half agreement would be worth an additional $US12 billion in revenue for his country over the "next generation". He said Australia's proposal would generate $US4.0 billion for East Timor.

Australia threatens to suspend East Timor gas talks

Agence France Presse - July 25, 2004

Sydney -- Australia's foreign minister has threatened to suspend talks with East Timor on disputed multi-billion-dollar Timor Sea gas and oil fields, saying the opposition Labor Party had politicised the issue.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer accused Labor leader Mark Latham of acting irresponsibly by saying last week that he would start fresh negotiations with East Timor if elected in national elections expected in October or November.

The long-running negotiations have strained Australia's relations with East Timor, which wants a greater share of oil revenues, and Downer said Latham had "lurched into" the issue at a delicate stage in a bid to score political points.

He said Latham had undermined Australia's position and the government was considering suspending the next round of talks with Dili, scheduled for September.

"That's obviously something we'll have to consider," Downer told Channel Nine. "There won't be any point in going ahead with the negotiations if Labor is going to restart the negotiations after the election.

"This comes at a very bad time, because these negotiations are very delicate and difficult negotiations."

Australia's conservative government has been accused of bullying one of the world's poorest countries by claiming ownership of oil-rich continental shelf two-thirds of the way across the Timor Sea.

East Timor wants the border drawn midway between the two, a change East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said last month would be worth an additional 12 billion US dollars in revenue for his country over the "next generation", compared to 4.0 billion dollars under the existing arrangement.

Latham said last week that Labor would start negotiations from scratch because "bad blood" had dominated the existing talks.

He said it was important for East Timor to remain a viable nation and it would not be in Australia's interests to have a failed state on its doorstep.

Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said Downer was playing politics ahead of the election.

Rudd said Labor's policy had two key points that had been on the record for six months -- it wants an agreement to be finalised within three to five years, rather than the government's open- ended approach, and it wants international law, including the United Nations' law of the sea, to be considered.

In March 2002, Australia withdrew from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea before the dispute reached the arbiter.

"These were two clearly articulated differences and six months later Alexander Downer decides to make a political case out of it," Rudd said.

Canberra may delay Timor gas talks

Reuters - July 27, 2004

Melbourne -- Australia has warned that it may suspend the next round of negotiations with East Timor on a maritime border in the resource rich Timor Sea that will decide the ownership of billions of dollars worth of oil and gas.

Australia and East Timor held talks in April and are scheduled to meet again in September.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the next round had been undermined by opposition Labor party comments last week suggesting it would restart talks with a more favorable position toward East Timor if it won the next election.

"It could be suspended, yes. That's obviously something we'll have to consider. There won't be any point in going ahead with the negotiations if Labor is going to restart the negotiations after the election," he told the Nine Network Sunday program.

Australia's expected cliff-hanger election is tipped to be held in September or October, although it could be as late as next April, according to the Australian Electoral Commission.

Downer said there had been bipartisan support for Australia's negotiating position until last week.

"This comes at a very bad time, because these are very delicate and difficult negotiations," he said.

The dispute over the maritime boundary is threatening development of the A$6.6 billion ($4.7 billion) Greater Sunrise gas project which lies in water between the two countries.

Border quarrel takes shine off Sunrise

Australian Financial Review - July 31, 2004

Rowan Callick -- The Timor gap is getting wider. And both Australia and East Timor are set to delay or lose substantial income as a result.

Australia's row with East Timor over the oil- and gas-rich sea bed between the countries has inevitably turned into a domestic debate, too, as the election approaches, clouding the issues.

Don Voelte, Woodside Petroleum's new chief executive, is now visiting Dili for the first time. His message is a simple one: until the Timorese parliament ratifies the International Utilisation Agreement for the Greater Sunrise gas field, the $6 billion to $7 billion project cannot move to the next stage, of detailed design, expected to cost $86 million over 15 months.

Greater Sunrise, one-third owned and also operated by Woodside, straddles the provisional boundary between Australian waters and those covered by the Timor Sea Treaty that gives East Timor 90 per cent of oil and gas production revenues within the Join Petroleum Development area.

Since most of Greater Sunrise is in Australian waters, the IUA, ratified by the Australian parliament last March with Labor support, gives Australia 79.9 per cent of revenues from the field, and 20.1 per cent to East Timor. It is projected to provide up to $12 billion potential revenues for governments.

The Bayu-Undan field, operated by ConocoPhillips, which lies fully within the JPD area giving East Timor 90 per cent of receipts, started producing "wet gas" six months ago. This first phase has cost $2 billion, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) set for production in 18 months.

The East Timor government, which signed the IUA in early 2003, is now refusing to have it ratified until permanent boundaries with Australia are agreed.

It says that Australia should not be able to take into account its extensive continental shelf in fixing a boundary. But Canberra replies that the seabed boundaries agreed with all the country's other neighbours Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the French colony of New Caledonia, and finally last weekend, after almost five years of negotiations, New Zealand start from the continental shelf.

The first round of talks about a permanent boundary took place in Dili in April, and the second round is due in Canberra in September. Australia says the boundaries to east and west, following a line from the borders between East Timor and Indonesia, are essentially already fixed, so it is the north/south boundary that should be the prime focus. But East Timor believes its boundary should be extended east and west as well as south, to encompass Greater Sunrise fully.

Opposition Leader Mark Latham said last week : "If we come into government, we'll have to start again, because from what I can gather there has been a lot of bad blood across the negotiating table. We don't want a failed state on our doorstep."

East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta responded: "We are pleased with constructive and positive statements coming out of the Labor Party and other opposition parties in Australia."

Joel Fitzgibbon, the opposition mining and energy spokesman, tells The Australian Financial Review that "the government's bullying approach has created an impasse which has to be fixed".

"There needs to be a more generous approach to revenue sharing, through boundary changes or a separate deal," he says.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says that if Labor "wants to politicise these delicate negotiations", the government will have no choice but to suspend them until after the election.

He says that borders should not be decided according to relative wealth, which might be addressed by aid or other strategies. Australia has provided almost $100 million a year in aid, about 16 per cent of East Timor's gross domestic product, since 2000.

A spokesman for Woodside says that the parliament will meet again in Dili in September. He says that it is up to the two governments to resolve the border dispute. "But we can't commence the next phase of Greater Sunrise until the IUA is ratified," because a legal and fiscal framework has to be in place to spend further shareholders' funds, and to sign up potential LNG customers.

No decision has been made about whether the LNG would be exported from Darwin, East Timor, or a floating base.

The issue

  • Australia has agreed with all its neighbours except East Timor sea boundaries that thake into account Australia's extensive continental shelf.
  • East Timor says this is unfair and wants to complete boundary talks before ratifying an agreement on how oil and gas revenues are split from fields that straddle the countries' sea areas.
  • This threatens to halt development of the $6bn-$7bn Greater Sunrise field.

Australia warns Timor on gas claim

The Australian - July 31, 2004

Nigel Wilson -- The Howard Government has told East Timor it will get no revenue from the Bayu Undan and Greater Sunrise gas fields if it pursues its claim for a maritime boundary set at the median point between the two countries.

Australian officials have warned that even if the East Timor claim were accepted and the boundary changed from the edge of the continental shelf 80km from the East Timor coast, the new border would probably be established north of the two gas fields.

This would mean the billions of dollars in revenue from the fields would flow exclusively to Australia rather than be shared with East Timor.

The warning ratchets up the row between Australia and East Timor that has led to a domestic political argument between the Howard Government and Labor.

The Government claims Opposition Leader Mark Latham is threatening the national interest by suggesting negotiations on the boundary should begin afresh because of "bad blood" in earlier talks between the two countries.

The new government strategy emerged yesterday as Don Voelte, chief executive officer of Woodside Petroleum, which heads the Greater Sunrise development joint venture, met East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri in Dili.

Mr Voelte is understood to have told Dr Alkatiri the $5billion project would not proceed unless East Timor ratified an agreement signed last year covering the legal and fiscal terms for development.

Dr Alkatiri has said previously he will not seek parliamentary ratification of the agreement unless Australia agrees to negotiate the boundary within five years.

East Timor, which is being advised by the former US ambassador to Croatia, Peter Galbraith, has embarked on an international campaign seeking support for its claim that the maritime boundary should be at the mid-point between the two countries.

East Timor claims Australia's action will rob it of up to $US30 billion in petroleum resources in the Timor Sea.

Dili has accused Canberra of being unfair to one of the world's poorest countries through Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's insistence that the boundary should reflect Australia's continental shelf, which in places is as close as 80km to East Timor.

The second round of negotiations on the boundary is scheduled for September.

Australian sources said last night the latest legal advice on the boundary confirmed the East Timorese case was weak.

A boundary redrawn to the midpoint might not deliver the benefits hoped for by the East Timorese because, for technical and geophysical reasons, the known gas reserves in the Timor Sea were clearly associated with the Australian landmass and not East Timor.

This means that even if the continental shelf was not accepted as the boundary, a mid-point would not result in the gas reserves at Bayu-Undan and Greater Sunrise being under East Timor's control. Under present arrangements East Timor receives 90 per cent of revenues from Bayu-Undan and would receive about 18 per cent of Greater Sunrise revenues because only 20.1 per cent of those reservoirs lie in a jointly administered area.

Political debate over Timor Sea oil drags on

Asia Pulse - July 30, 2004

Darwin -- Federal and state mining ministers have shot down a proposal to include East Timor in their talks on the exploitation of oil and gas resources.

Victoria's Energy Minister Theo Theophanous today urged his counterparts to allow East Timor, and Papua New Guinea, to sit on the Ministerial Council on Minerals and Petroleum Resources as an observer. He also urged the council to press the federal government to treat East Timor fairly in any talks over revenue from the A$5 billion (US$3.4 billion) Sunrise gas project in the Timor Sea.

But federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said the motion was voted down by federal and state ministers at the meeting in Alice Springs today.

Mr Macfarlane labelled the motion a smokescreen for what he called Labor's foreign policy "blunder" over Australia's negotiations with East Timor. "It was obviously a desperate attempt to divert attention from the policy blunder of the federal Labor leader," Mr Macfarlane said.

Sunrise partner Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) this week warned the massive project would topple if Australia and East Timor did not resolve their differences over the division of billions of dollars of royalties from the project by the year's end.

The federal government has threatened to suspend the talks on a maritime boundary after Opposition Leader Mark Latham said a Labor government, if elected, would make a fresh start on the negotiations.

"The issue is not whether or not East Timor comes on the ministerial council," he said. "Mr Latham has very seriously compromised the Australian position in terms of our negotiations."

Australia and East Timor are currently in talks on a permanent seabed boundary to divide control of the estimated A$30 billion in royalties from Timor Sea oil and gas deposits, including the Greater Sunrise field.

East Timor has so far refused to ratify another revenue-sharing deal struck earlier known as the International Unitisation Agreement which says 80 per cent of the lucrative Sunrise field falls within Australian waters.

Mr Macfarlane said the federal government was willing to let East Timor sit as an observer at the ministerial meetings -- if it ratified the unitisation agreement.

"The commonwealth is prepared to have the East Timorese admitted as observers provided they keep their word and ratify the international unitisation agreement," he said. "There's no point in them coming to this table as an observer until they have fulfilled the undertaking they gave us."

Mr Theophanous said it was the government, not Labor, that was placing the Sunrise project in jeopardy. "The only people that are jeopardising this project is the Howard government because it's highly unlikely that the East Timorese will agree to the proposals that they have put before them because it is not in their national interest," he told ABC radio.

Latham 'threat' to East Timor

The Australian - July 28, 2004

Dennis Shanahan and Nigel Wilson -- Mark Latham's pledge to start new boundary talks with East Timor is threatening the tiny country's economic future, with owners of a $5 billion gas project saying they will stop development plans if present arrangements are not honoured.

East Timorese officials have become alarmed as the project partners warn they will have no choice but to pull out, and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has told the Opposition Leader his position "is damaging to the national interest".

Revenue from the Greater Sunrise gas project, led by Australian resources company Woodside, is vital to the future of East Timor and is now being drawn into a three-way pre-election wrangle.

There is concern in East Timor that Mr Latham's remarks about restarting negotiations could threaten the project as Woodside tells the East Timorese the project partners have no choice but to withdraw if there is a delay beyond the end of the year.

Mr Latham said last week that if Labor were elected, the talks on revenue sharing between Australia and East Timor would "have to start again because, from what I can gather, there's been a lot of bad blood across the negotiating table".

East Timor claims the present maritime boundary has no validity because it was negotiated with Indonesia. It has accused Australia of acting like a thief, as the Coalition Government opposes any change to maritime boundaries.

East Timor and Australia earlier this year negotiated an agreement that shares revenue from Greater Sunrise.

The federal parliament has ratified the agreement but East Timor has delayed ratification for several months, using it as a lever to force Australia to set a deadline for concluding maritime boundary talks.

Woodside's new chief executive, Don Voelte, will go to Dili later this week, where he will emphasise that the partners have no option but to abandon plans for Greater Sunrise if the East Timorese do not ratify the agreement by the end of the year.

Mr Voelte will argue that without firm arrangements backed by both the Australian and East Timor governments, the project cannot win orders for liquefied natural gas worth billions of dollars in the increasingly competitive world market.

Mr Downer says East Timor's poverty can be met by aid programs, rather than by Australia ceding sovereignty over the Timor Sea.

In a letter to Mr Latham, Mr Downer said that "obviously if the Labor Party has a different position to the Government, then East Timor will be able to play one side against the other and this will be very damaging for the national interest".

He challenged the Labor leader to adopt a bipartisan position on negotiating with East Timor before the election so that talks can continue in "good faith".

Mr Downer said that if Mr Latham believed the oil talks should "begin again", then he would postpone the talks due in September until after the election. "If we do have to suspend the negotiations, it will delay for a substantial period of time any prospect of an agreement," Mr Downer said. "I will also advise interested Australian companies of this decision forthwith."

John Howard will visit the Woodside headquarters in Karratha, in northwestern Western Australia, today. Mr Latham told The Australian last night: "We'll negotiate the matter in good faith." Mr Latham said the leaking of Mr Downer's letter showed the minister was "more interested in playing politics than in the national interest".

Mr Latham's key supporter and the man who shifted Labor policy on East Timor, Laurie Brereton, was in the nation's capital of Dili yesterday and met Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. It is understood Dr Alkatiri told him that East Timor would not ratify the agreement signed between Australia and East Timor last year providing a legal and fiscal framework for development of the Greater Sunrise reservoirs.

Downer set to suspend Timor talks

The Australian - July 24, 2004

Steve Lewis and Nigel Wilson -- The Howard Government is threatening to suspend talks with East Timor over control of billions of dollars worth of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea until after the election, following remarks by Mark Latham that a Labor government would consider restarting negotiations.

Senior government ministers believe the Opposition Leader has undermined Australia's negotiating position with the impoverished nation as talks enter a crucial phase.

Mr Latham this week delivered a strong signal a Labor government would begin with a clean slate and negotiate a more favourable outcome for East Timor.

"If we come into government, I think we'll have to start again because from what I can gather, there's been a lot of bad blood across the negotiating table," he said on Wednesday.

There is now a strong possibility talks scheduled to be held in Canberra in September will be deferred.

However, suspending talks on a maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor would almost certainly see the collapse of the $5billion Great Sunrise gas project in the Timor Sea.

East Timor's Minister for External Relations, Jose Ramos Horta, said yesterday Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had raised the possibility of postponing talks.

"We are pleased with constructive and positive statements coming out of the Labor Party and other opposition parties in Australia," Mr Ramos Horta said. "But we respect the government of the day and continue to negotiate in good faith."

Mr Latham's comments have incensed the Government, with Mr Downer believing Mr Latham has seriously blundered on another foreign policy matter. "This backflip now has serious implications for the negotiations which are currently at a very sensitive stage," a spokesman for Mr Downer said.

A spokesman for Mr Latham last night downplayed the significance of the remarks: "Mr Latham was stating the obvious, that as an Opposition we don't know the content of negotiations. "Of course, you would come into government and negotiate in good faith," the spokesman said, adding that Mr Downer was engaging in his "usual mischief".

One of the world's poorest nations, East Timor has launched an international campaign claiming Australia is being unfair by insisting a maritime boundary between the two countries should be established at the edge of the continental shelf, which in some places is only 80km from the East Timor coast, rather than at the mid-point between the two countries about 200km further south.

The partners in Greater Sunrise, Woodside, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Osaka Gas, are trying to sign up customers in North Asia for billions of dollars worth of liquefied natural gas from the Sunrise reservoirs, which are needed before the project can proceed.

A project spokesman confirmed yesterday that without East Timorese ratification of the agreement by the end of the year, the project could not proceed.

Labor shifts stance on Timor gas

Australian Associated Press - July 23, 2004

Canberra -- East Timor's economic future would be given more weight in talks over oil and gas royalties if Labor was elected, Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.

Mr Latham today moved to distance Labor from the government on the issue of royalties from the multi-billion dollar Timor Sea oil and gas reserves, which are currently the subject of sensitive talks between Australia and the fledgling nation. He said the federal government was failing to negotiate in good faith and a Labor government would restart talks.

"Our starting point is to recognise that if East Timor goes broke that's bad for Australia," Mr Latham told Lismore radio 2LM. "We don't want a failed state on our doorstep. "We have an Australian interest in the viability of East Timor so I think we've got to conduct these negotiations in good faith.

"If we come into government, I think we'll have to start again because, from what I can gather, there's been a lot of bad blood across the negotiating table and you never get it right in these sensitive areas unless you're there doing things in good faith."

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said today Mr Latham's promise ended a period of bipartisan support for the negotiation process. "This is a dramatic change in Labor's position," the spokesman said. "It has serious implications for what has been a delicate negotiation process."

The spokesman said the government would discuss the implications of the move with the East Timorese.

The next round of formal talks is scheduled for mid-September in Canberra.

Australian Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja said she was surprised at the move, given that Labor supported laws ratifying the Timor Sea Treaty and the Greater Sunrise Unitisation Agreement. The agreement, which is yet to receive East Timor parliament backing, hands Australia more than 80 per cent of known oil and gas deposits.

"I'm glad they now understand that a strong Timor Leste (East Timor) is crucial for the region and is in Australia's national interest, which is why they should never have supported hastily prepared and unfair legislation," Senator Stott Despoja said. "I challenge Labor to back up its commitment to negotiate in good faith by undertaking to resubmit to the International Court of Justice."

Greens senator Bob Brown said the move would boost Australia's standing in East Timor, which had taken a battering since the laws were passed. "Effectively the Howard Government wants to steal East Timor's resource," he said.

 Justice & reconciliation

Getting again the good life

PCUSA News - July 16, 2004

John Filiatreau, Liquica -- Leonito da Costa's death and resurrection took place shortly after August 30, 1999, the day he and hundreds of thousands of other East Timorese trooped to the polls to vote for independence from Indonesia.

In the days after the United Nations-sponsored referendum, pro- Jakarta militias [sic] went on a rampage, killing as many as 2,000 civilians and destroying an estimated 80 percent of East Timor's buildings and other infrastructure. One-third of the population, more than 300,000 people, left the country.

A hundred fearful Christians, the remnant of the Protestant church of East Timor, were led into the wilderness by the last four Protestant ministers still on the job.

One of the four, the Rev. Francisco de Vasconcelos Ximenes, general secretary and acting moderator of Gereja Kristen di Timor Timur (the Christian Church of East Timor, or GKTT), had had to choose for the group between seeking protection at a local police station and taking to the bush without food or water. He prayed about it. Then, realizing that he couldn't bring himself to trust the police, he led the group into the mountains.

Protestants have always been a tiny minority in East Timor, which has been predominantly Roman Catholic since the first Portuguese colonists arrived in the 16th century. Generally speaking, Catholics were considered pro-independence, while Protestants were said to be more sympathetic to the country's Indonesian occupiers. But these Protestant leaders had been vocal supporters of independence, so their names were being checked against "death lists" at roadblocks all around Dili, the capital.

When it was reported a few days after the independence vote that Ximenes had been captured and killed, it was also reported, almost as an afterthought, that da Costa, a lay "evangelist" in the GKTT, had been executed alongside him.

This was easy to believe, because da Costa had become Ximenes's right-hand man. Whenever one saw Ximenes, a big, bearish fellow by Timorese standards, there at his side one always saw da Costa, a small, slight man who carried himself like a servant. It was Leonito who every morning killed and swept up dozens of cockroaches as big as my thumb, cockroaches mice could saddle up and ride.

It was reported that Ximenes's dying words were, "Please voice our voices." I assumed that that was a poor translation, that what he'd meant to say was something like, "Please make our voices heard." Da Costa's last words were not recorded.

When word of their deaths reached me, I was shocked but not surprised. Death had been in the air when I'd last seen them. The roads around Dili had been crowded with people trying to get out before nightfall. Parts of the city were already burning. Truckloads of soldiers and militiamen we re rushing here and there, helicopters whop-whopping overhead.

As I shook their hands at the airport, I thought: I'll soon be safe and warm in Kentucky -- and you'll be waiting for the militias to come and kill you. I gave da Costa most of the money I had left. I didn't feel too good about getting on the plane, but I got on the plane.

I'd met Ximenes and da Costa in the days before the independence vote, when I was in East Timor as an election observer for the United Nations, part of a small delegation organized by the Asia-Pacific Center for Justice and Peace in New York City. We'd spent a few days together in an unfurnished house in Dili while anti-independence militias sprayed the neighborhood with bullets.

On the day of the referendum itself, I'd gone to watch a polling station in a tiny village at the top of a mountain shrouded in clouds. I was thrilled. How often does one get to witness the birth of a nation? But when things got dangerous, we Westerners bailed. I was pretty sure I'd never see Ximenes and da Costa again. Whether they survived or not.

I'd written a story about da Costa, how he'd lost his wife, Leonarda, and their three daughters, and didn't know where they were, or whether they were alive. He'd told me about his village, Potubo, in Liquica, west of Dili. He'd told me about his church, Bethel Christian, which once had 185 members. He'd told me about the wealthy farming collective in his village that once had 25 goats, a milk cow, two fattening calves and ripening crops of vegetables and cassava.

All that had been lost one morning when anti-independence militiamen armed with axes and machetes and escorted by Indonesian soldiers waded into a crowd they had herded into the yard of the Catholic church in Liquica and slaughtered more than 60 people.

Leonito was smashed in the head with a gun butt and only survived because of the kindness of a police officer who happened to be an elder in his church. When he awoke, his home, Bethel Church and the village of Potubo had been burned to the ground. The militias had killed all the livestock and burned all the crops. His old life was gone. He'd heard third-hand that his wife and three daughters had got out with the clothes on their backs and made it to a refugee camp in the jungle.

Yet da Costa said he was was "very happy." He said he had "died and experienced the resurrection," and his Christian faith was "very strong."

That was well before news of his death was broadcast worldwide -- and reached Leonarda, who was living in a camp in West Timor with her daughters, then 9, 5 and 1year old. That was in September 1999. She hadn't seen him since that spring. She wouldn't see him again for more than two years.

"I give thanks to Jesus Christ," Leonito says today. "It is because of Jesus Christ, the love of Jesus Christ, that I got my family back. I had lost everything, and even though it was a difficult time, God took care of my family. I always felt that Jesus Christ was with me."

Ximenes says of Leonito: "He is a great man, a very great man. He is happy now, even more than before. ... He was always hoping his family could get again the good life."

And it has. Leonito and Leonarda have another child, now 1 -- a fourth daughter. They live in a small house in Liquica. They have a little garden. Chickens run around the yard.

When I visit, all the neighborhood children are there. They touch their noses to the back of my hand, a respectful greeting. Some also want to touch my white skin. They think my camera is magic; pictures of themselves make them giggle uncontrollably.

Leonarda serves me hot tea. We chat about Leonito's brother and how many cows and hogs it will cost him when he finally takes a bride. These days, he says, rolling his eyes, when you marry a woman, you marry her whole family, there's no end to it. Still, a man needs a bride ... Leonito teases his brother. The older brother grins, the younger one blushes. They could be any two brothers, anywhere.

They take me to Bethel Church. It is a small, plain, solid- looking building in a little clearing hacked out of the jungle. We'd call it a shed. In it are three fire-engine-red plastic chairs; a metal folding chair for me, the guest of honor; and a rough wooden table. On the wall is an outdated calendar with a picture of the Last Supper on it, the only sign of the building's religious purpose. Although it is raining, the interior is bone- dry, which seems to give everyone satisfaction.

The pastor joins us, happy to show off his church. I get a fleeting sense of deja vu and realize that I had exactly the same experience just a few weeks ago, in Fort Myers, FL, except that the church was much bigger and better-appointed, and the pastor wore shoes.

All three men glow with pride that there is once again a Bethel Church. But now, they say, hardly anyone comes to worship; four or five people on a typical Sunday, sometimes only Leonito and his wife and the pastor and his wife.

The people stay away because the church has nothing, not even a cross. No Bibles, no hymnals, no Sunday school. There is almost nothing to pay the pastor; what little he does get comes through the synod in Dili, not the collection plate.

When Leonito goes door-to-door in the villages, "teaching the people about what the Bible says," mostly they are nice to him, and listen politely, and give him tea; but they say they prefer the Catholic churches now, or the charismatic Christian ones, because those churches have altar cloths and hymnals and stained glass and framed pictures on the walls, and feel more like real churches.

Filmmaker wants to drive away past devils

Interpress Service - July 8, 2004

Sonny Inbaraj, Darwin -- Documentary filmmaker and cameraman Max Stahl -- whose images of the 1991 Dili massacre in East Timor moved the world into taking action against Indonesia -- is back in the fledgling nation to help the East Timorese deal with their past violent history and pave the way for healing and reconciliation.

"How do we keep the past alive without becoming its prisoner? How do we forget it without risking its repetition in the future?" asks Stahl, quoting from renowned Chilean novelist and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman.

Stahl grew up in Chile and is the son of a former British ambassador to El Salvador. For that reason he relates well to Dorfman.

To rid the devils in order to focus on the future in East Timor seems to be Stahl's vocation these days. He has decided to pioneer a media development project, funded by the Finnish and German governments, to use previously unedited video footage of the Dili massacre to initiate discussion among the East Timorese with the help of local journalists and community radio stations.

"This is a popular history that belongs to the people of East Timor," Stahl tells IPS in an interview.

"And the people of Timor have a different perspective -- they understand much more from a different point of view about what was happening and why it was happening," he points out.

"Nowhere have I seen greater care, greater respect, greater love for the dead than in East Timor. They grieve for the people they love who die, not less than the people in the West, but more."

The Dili massacre was the shooting of East Timorese protesters by Indonesian troops in the Santa Cruz cemetery in the capital, Dili, on November 12, 1991. Of the people demonstrating in the cemetery, 271 were killed, 382 wounded and 250 disappeared.

The protesters, mainly students, launched their protest against Indonesian rule at the funeral of a fellow student who had been shot dead by Indonesian soldiers the month before.

The massacre was witnessed by US journalists, and caught on videotape by Stahl, who was filming undercover for Yorkshire Television in Britain. Stahl's video images of the shootings were shown worldwide, causing the Indonesian government considerable embarrassment.

Now commemorated as a public holiday in an independent East Timor, November 12 is remembered by the East Timorese as one of their bloodiest days, one that gained international attention to their fight for independence.

"There are still questions to be answered about the massacre. For instance, what has happened to the people who went missing? Has any follow-up been done to see how the families of the dead are coping?" asks Stahl.

Stahl has more than 50 hours of unedited footage of events leading to the massacre and that will form the basis of the dialogue he hopes to start.

"We will use it to tell stories about what happened then and what's happened since -- about other people who were behind the camera or in the scene at the same places. And these stories will be told by the people themselves," he explains.

"Hopefully this will become the foundation of a cultural dialogue which goes back to the roots of the struggle, to the culture of the past and also forward to the new vision of what East Timor should be and can be," adds Stahl.

The award-winning filmmaker aims to engage local journalists and community radio stations to initiate that debate.

"We will be working with local journalists and broadcasters. They will be very important in getting the stories out," says Stahl.

"But these stories are not simply stories for news but stories which go into the whole area that lies around, behind and beyond the news. And the East Timorese people will play a big part in that process," he stresses.

East Timor became independent on May 20, 2002 after a two-year period of administration by the United Nations.

For 25 years, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia. The Timorese in a United Nations-sponsored referendum opted for independence in late August 1999. But when the ballot results were announced in September 1999, Indonesian military-sponsored militias went on an orgy of terror and razed Dili to the ground.

In 2000, Stahl won the premier award for freelance cameramen, the Rory Peck Award, for his 1999 footage of East Timorese escaping Indonesian troops, in Dili, and making the way up the hills behind the capital.

His "In Cold Blood", about the Dili massacre, won the Amnesty International Press Award in 1992. He also has won one gold New York Film Festival Award and the British Royal Television Society Award for best feature documentary in 1993.

"Respect for those I am filming certainly inspires my work," he says. "The real story for me was never the headline. The story was always the values that ordinary people were struggling with and struggling for," explains Stahl.

Stahl says he is a great admirer of courageous people and their courage makes him feel humble. "To me the heroes of East Timor are the heroes of many other struggles.

They are people at the grassroots -- people who had to make tremendously dramatic choices involving their own life and death, including decisions they had to make to sacrifice everything most dear to themselves."

The British cameraman and filmmaker is optimistic and hopeful for the world's newest nation: "The new East Timor is full of hope. There is a positive life force here. Hope is in the children and the hope you offer is in the eyes of the people you film.."

Timor justice slow but sure

Asia Intelligence Wire - July 29, 2004

Sarah Boyd -- The United Nation's special representative in East Timor, Sukehiro Hasekawa, has been thinking about the O J Simpson trial. "The relatives of the victim and those of the accused needed to look each other in the eye and acknowledge what actually happened. That trial went on for a year and cost a lot of money, but perhaps they never did that."

Dr Hasekawa is a quietly spoken, dignified man with a strong belief in the importance of truth. He was in Wellington last week and gave an address on the justice and reconciliation process in East Timor.

Justice in East Timor has been a hybrid of formal judicial trials and more emotional restorative justice hearings. The latter involves the perpetrator going to the village where the crime occurred, meeting relatives of victims and offering an apology. "They first receive the confession and an account of what happened. It lasts not just hours but sometimes days."

It's been used to deal with the many less serious crimes that occurred during the referendum period, such as beatings, house burnings and lootings. Dr Hasegawa says the key is for the victims to receive an apology, and punishment may include payment or community service.

"The high level of community involvement in the process, with the participation of victims, perpetrators and communities, has ensured the restoration of dignity of victims, facilitated the re-integration of former low-level militia in their own communities and assisted the reparation of community relationships."

To hear cases involving more serious crimes, the UN transitional authority set up in 2001 an investigations unit and a special panel consisting of two international judges and one East Timorese. The panel has handed out, for example, a 33-year jail term to those responsible for the 1999 murder of three nuns.

But the system is severely hampered by the fact that most of the perpetrators live outside the country. Since trials began, there have been 54 convictions and three acquittals, but 75 per cent of those indicted are thought to be in Indonesia -- including some high-ranking Indonesian military commanders.

The serious crimes unit is ready to try them, yet they can't do so in East Timor without their presence. Dr Hasegawa says an agreement was drawn up between the UN transitional administrator, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, and the former Indonesian attorney-general to allow for the extradition of suspects, but it was never ratified by the Indonesian Parliament and there have been no extraditions.

Indonesia set up its own tribunal in Jakarta and carried out its own hearings. "Indonesia will say they've done their best. Many in the international community feel very dissatisfied with the results," he says.

The investigations and indictments from 1999 are supposed to be completed by November this year, and the cases of about 30 more defendants heard by May 2005.

What happens next remains unclear, Dr Hasegawa says, with many competing opinions and interests.

One option would be to end the justice and reconciliation process when the UN departs: "Let's call it a partial victory and close the curtain. The UN is considering the establishment of a commission of independent experts to look into what has happened so far with the process in Jakarta and East Timor and decide what to do," he says.

Whatever happens is very much dependent on the political will of the leadership in Timor, given that it's now an independent country.

Dr Hasegawa says the feeling of some is that, if the international community wants to continue with a formal justice process, it will need to take it over and do it somewhere like Geneva or the Hague, or Wellington.

"Don't send in 100 people and put our prosecutor-general on top and do all the work and call it a Timorese process," is how he characterises what people are saying.

That's countered by concerns that it could cause internal instability because of the desire of many in East Timor for justice and the fear that violence could return if people are seen to have been let off the hook.

Dr Hasegawa, who has worked for the UN for 30 years, including in Somalia and Rwanda, says reconciliation and healing of communities can take years, even generations. "What is significant is that the process has commenced widely across the local communities in Timor-Leste, but, as importantly, between political leaders at the national level in Timor-Leste and, crucially, between political leaders in Timor-Leste and Indonesia."

 Human rights trials

Timor has no right to intervene in Indonesian law: Wirajuda

Tempo Interactive - July 21, 2004

Jakarta -- Responding to a letter sent by East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao, the East Timorese parliament and East Timorese Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro stating that the former governor of East Timor Abilio Soares was innocent, Indonesian foreign minister Nur Hassan Wirajuda said that no party is entitled to intervene in the legal system of Indonesia.

Not Mr. Gusmao, who is East Timorese President, and not even the Indonesian President has a right to intervene in the legal process, Wirajuda told reporters during a seminar held at the Grand Melia Hotel, Jakarta, on Tuesday (20/07).

According to him, the trial process in any country comes as an independent process.

Soares has been detained at the Cipinang penitentiary since Saturday (17/07) after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal. Soares has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Furthermore, Wirajuda said, Soares sentence was made following a fair trial. According to Wirajuda, should Soares feel that he has been treated unfairly, he could ask for a review on his case or request clemency from the president. (Faisal -- Tempo News Room)

Abilio first to serve jail time for Timor mayhem

Jakarta Post - July 18, 2004

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, Jakarta -- Former East Timor governor Abilio Soares began serving on Saturday a three-year prison term for his role in the 1999 violence in the former Indonesian province, becoming the first person to be jailed for the bloodshed.

Abilio arrived in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon from his home in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, and was taken from Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Cipinang Prison to begin serving his sentence. Earlier, the former governor said he would rather be shot dead than sent to prison.

He had defied a summons to begin serving his sentence on Friday, saying he was seeking a Supreme Court review of his conviction.

A group of prosecutors and Abilio's lawyers were at the airport waiting for the former governor, who was accompanied from Kupang by the head of the East Nusa Tenggara Prosecutor's Office, Bachtiar Robin Pangaribuan.

Abilio was transferred to Cipinang Prison in a Nissan sedan instead of the standard vehicle normally used to transport convicts.

"There was no backroom deal. I just found out that the AGO rejected my request to delay the execution of my sentence," Abilio said before leaving Kupang for Jakarta, referring to the Attorney General's Office.

The office's spokesman, Kemas Yahya Rahman, said on Saturday that Abilio would have been taken to prison by force if necessary.

However, Pangaribuan was able to convince Abilio to come to Jakarta voluntarily, Kemas said.

In Kupang, dozens of supporters accompanied Abilio to the airport, warning Pangaribuan not to return to the city without Abilio. The former governor was able to calm his supporters after some of them began smashing windows at the airport.

In Cipinang, Abilio will be a neighbor of big-time corruptors such as Beddu Amang, Pande Lubis, Winfred Simatupang and Dadang Sukandar in Block H of the prison, warden Giharto said.

Inmates in Block H get their own cells, unlike in other blocks where dozens of prisoners often find themselves sharing a cell. But Giharto insisted that Abilio would not receive any special treatment.

Abilio had sent a letter asking prosecutors to postpone the execution of his sentence while he filed a review of his conviction with the Supreme Court, which had already dismissed his appeal.

A Supreme Court decision is a legally binding verdict that must be followed up immediately by prosecutors. Any other legal measures taken by convicts must not stop the execution of their sentence. The exception is for convicts on death row. Under the law, their execution must be delayed if they seek a review from the Supreme Court or clemency from the president.

Abilio reiterated his belief that he was a scapegoat for the bloodshed in East Timor when the territory voted for independence in 1999, saying the former military and police chiefs there should be held responsible for the violence.

He said that as a civilian governor, and with East Timor under martial law at the time, he did not control the security forces during the carnage blamed on military-backed militias.

Abilio was sentenced to three years in prison by an ad hoc human rights tribunal in 2002 for failing to control his subordinates during an attack on a Liquisa church that left 22 civilians dead.

Three Army officers, a former Dili Police chief and a militia member were all sentenced by the rights tribunal to a year in prison but all five remain free pending their appeals.

Eleven military members and one civilian were acquitted by the tribunal, which many observers say failed to deliver justice according to international law.

Gusmao criticizes jail term for ex-governor

Associated Press - July 19, 2004

Dili -- East Timor's president said Monday that Indonesian security forces were responsible for the violence that swept his country in 1999 _ not the territory's last governor, who began serving a jail term in Indonesia over the weekend.

Xanana Gusmao said former Gov. Abilio Jose Soares, who is ethnically East Timorese, should not have been imprisoned for the violence that accompanied the country's break from 24 years of Indonesian rule in 1999.

"He is a political scapegoat," Gusmao said. "A civilian governor was not responsible for the violence at that time."

Soares began a three-year prison term on Saturday, becoming the first person to be punished in Indonesia over the bloodshed.

Gusmao said Indonesian police and military officials should be blamed because they signed an agreement before a U.N-sponsored referendum on independence accepting responsibility for security during the ballot.

As many as 2,000 people were killed and much of East Timor was destroyed in 1999 by rampaging Indonesian troops and militia proxies which they armed and trained.

Gusmao has not aggressively pushed Indonesia to punish those responsible for the violence, saying that maintaining good ties between the two countries was more important.

Former legislator Manuel Viegas Carrascalao, who lost his son in a militia attack ahead of the vote, said Soares deserved the punishment.

"Maybe he did not kill anyone, but he let others kill," he said. "When the militias killed my son, he stayed silent."

Soares was the first Indonesian official to be punished for the bloodshed out of 18 mostly military and police officials originally put on trial.

He was convicted of failing to stop the violence. Fifteen others have been acquitted. Appeals by two remaining defendants are expected soon.

Critics say the string of not-guilty verdicts handed down in Indonesia means it has failed to live up to its promises to punish those responsible for the violence.

'Top brass won't be mired in East Timor case'

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2004

Tiarma Siboro and Abdul Khalik, Jakarta -- The imprisonment of former East Timor governor Abilio Soares is maintaining the immunity of military top brass in the gross human rights violations in the former Indonesian province in 1999, a rights campaigner says.

National Commission for Missing Persons and Victim of Violence (Kontras) cofounder Munir, who participated in the investigation commission (KPP) on rights violations in East Timor, said Abilio was a mere scapegoat in a case that had put Indonesia in the international spotlight.

The KPP said in its report the former governor did not hold any authority to make policy in the country's former province ahead of the UN-sponsored ballot in 1999.

Instead, the governor was at the fourth tier after the Armed Forces (ABRI) commander, the ABRI chief of territorial affairs and the National Police.

"Abilio was just a symbol of civilian authority in East Timor at a time when all political affairs, including security measures, belonged to the Military and the police," Munir said.

According to Munir, the KPP recommended that the Attorney General's Office investigate top military officers, including then ABRI commander Gen.

Wiranto, deputy Army chief Lt. Gen. Jhonny Lumintang and ABRI chief of territorial affairs Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The three were not on the list of suspects issued by state prosecutors investigating the East Timor mayhem, the first crimes against humanity to be taken to the country's human rights tribunal.

"I suggest that the prosecutors reopen the KPP recommendation and summon the former generals because they were key security figures when the East Timor atrocities occurred," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He said the prosecutors could use Abilio's statement that he was not in charge of security affairs ahead of the self-determination vote as a pretext for rebuilding the cases against the top security officers.

Chairman of the Human Rights Team at the Attorney General's Office Ketut Murtika, however, dismissed Munir's suggestion, saying his team had completed its investigation into the case. The prosecutors named 18 suspects, including former Udayana military commander overseeing Bali, Nusa Tenggara and East Timor Maj. Gen. Adam Damiri and East Timor military commander Brig. Gen. Noer Muis.

"During our investigation we questioned people from the East Timor Military and police as well as local administration officials. However, they didn't say anything about Wiranto, Jhonny, or Susilo. We could not name them as suspects because we had no witnesses," Ketut told the Post.

He added that his team also found no indication of their involvement in human rights violations.

Of the six suspects convicted, four were military officers, including Adam and Muis. They are appealing to higher courts.

"We managed to prosecute the Military. They got between three and five years' imprisonment, but we can't implement that yet as final verdicts have not been delivered," said Ketut.

Violence erupted in the former Indonesian province following the August 30, 1999, self-determination referendum. It was reported that hundreds of civilians were killed during the violence.

Included in the violence was an attack on September 6 by pro- Jakarta militia members on a church in Suai. An inquiry team later exhumed 26 bodies believed to be victims of the attack.

Last Indonesian governor is first jailed over violence

ABC Radio - July 19, 2004

The first person to be convicted of human rights abuses in the lead up to East Timor's independence referendum has begun his three year jail sentence. The former Indonesian appointed governor of East Timor, Abilio Soares, has been convicted of involvement in the bloody violence which claimed up to 14 hundred lives during the 1999 vote. Soares denies any wrongdoing, and claims he's been made a scapegoat for the Indonesian military officers who co-ordinated the violence.

Presenter/Interviewer: Marion MacGregor

Speakers: Jim Dunn, former Australian consul in East Timor; Rosentino Amado Hea, East Timor human rights lawyer; Ketut Murtika, Abilio Soares' prosecutor and the Indonesian Attorney General's director of human rights

MacGregor: Abilio Soares was taken to Jakarta's Cipinang prison on Saturday to begin a three year stint behind bars for crimes he committed in East Timor in 1999.

As he was taken to the jail from Kupang in Nusa Tenggara, the last Indonesian governor of East Timor was still claiming his innocence. He says he's a scapegoat and those who are truly responsible for what happened in the territory at that time are being let off the hook.

The violence before and after the August self-determination ballot left as many as two thousand people dead and much of East Timor destroyed by rampaging Indonesian troops and militias which they had armed and trained.

Eighteen people, mostly military and police officials, have been tried over the bloodshed. Six have been convicted and sentenced. But Abilio Soares, a civilian and an ethnic East Timorese, is the first to go to jail.

In East Timor, the news of his imprisonment has had a lukewarm reception. Human rights lawyer Rosentino Amado Hea.

Hea: People all know, East Timor people know also, he not have responsibility, strong responsibility to deal with the security situation at that moment. We doubt he is involved, he is a victim.

MacGregor: Many outside East Timor support Abilio Soares' claim that he's been unfairly targetted. Jim Dunn is a UN expert on crimes against humanity and former consul in East Timor when it was under Portuguese rule.

Dunn: Abilio Soares was only a small player. He didn't plan the campaign to set up the militia, to carry out violence and to sabotage the UN mission that was of course to be responsible for the plebiscite. He certainly is a scapegoat.

MacGregor: Of the military and police officers originally charged and brought to trial by the human rights court in Jakarta, twelve have been acquitted. Yet many of them, according to Jim Dunn, were clearly implicated in the violence.

Dunn: Colonel Sediono, who actually stood by gave orders outside Suai, when the massacre took place, and another TNI Lieutenant Colonel who was also responsible for what happened at Maliano. These have a lot more to answer for. I wouldn't say that Abilio Soares was not responsible for participating. Obviously he wanted the outcome, and the outcome was for East Timor to stay with Indonesia. But there are more serious commanders who are responsible, and I suppose ultimately one of them was General Wiranto himself.

MacGregor: Indonesia remains under intense pressure from human rights groups to bring these former generals to justice. Ketut Murtika, Abilio Soares' prosecutor and the Indonesian Attorney General's director of human rights says the process is not yet over, with several cases against men like the regional commander Adam Damiri and the former army chief Nur Muis as well as civilian, Eurico Guterres, pending in the Supreme Court.

But that still leaves the big fish like General Wiranto and the then chief of territorial affairs, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. They've still not been prosecuted in Indonesia, because Ketut Murtika says, not a single witness could be found to testify against them.

Murtika: When we investigated these defendants, the witnesses seemed to have their mouths locked. No one was willing to say who was behind the violence. They weren't prepared to go any further than the regional commander.

MacGregor: There are calls this week for prosecutors to use Soares' statement that he was not in charge of security affairs ahead of the self-determination vote to build a new case against the top brass. But Ketut Murtika says they'd need military officers to come forward with new evidence, a prospect that seems unlikely.

Murtika: If there's sufficient evidence from the regional commander and his subordinates pointing the finger at these people, suggesting they were involved as planners, then of course we we would want to look again at this matter.

MacGregor: But critics still maintain the Jakarta trials are a farce, and they say only a UN-sponsored international tribunal can deliver justice. Former consul Jim Dunn has recommended to the UN chief Kofi Annan that such a tribunal be set up. While Indonesia has strongly rejected what it says is an attack on its sovereignty, Jim Dunn remains hopeful.

Dunn: It's not only important for justice in East Timor, it's also very important for the Indonesian people, because they need to know what their military commanders got up to. And if they do find that out, surely they will take action to reform the military. And that action is absolutely necessary to bring about the reform that the Indonesian democracy movement wants to introduce.

Soares accuses ABRI of violence in judicial review hearing

Kompas - July 8, 2004

Jakarta, Kompas -- Former East Timor governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares has questioned the verdict handed down against him by the courts. He will therefore be appealing to the head of the Supreme Court to conduct a review into the court's decision because he is simply being made a scapegoat who is bearing the responsibly for other people's mistakes.

This was the essence of a memorandum read by Soares during a hearing into the judicial review which as held at the Jakarta Ad Hoc Human Rights Court in Tuesday July 6. The hearing was presided over by judge Cicut Sutiarso and attended by Soares' defense team which includes OC Kaligis, Juan Felix Tampubolon, Indriyanto Seno Adji and YB Purwaning Yanuar.

The defense team also read out memorandum of appeal. Likewise, the ad hoc prosecution lead by Attorney General I Ketut Murtika read a counter memorandum against the judicial review.

As has been reported, in late 2003 the Level I Ad Hoc Human Rights Court sentenced Soares to three years jail which was later upheld by the Ad Hoc High Court. Soares then submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court however it was rejected and Soares is now submitting an appeal for a judicial review.

Not guilty

In the memorandum appealing for a judicial review, Soares stated that the appeal was being submitted because he does not feel guilty and has never committed human rights violations as he has been charged with.

This is based on the fact that during the trial there was not one witness who corroborated the prosecution's charges and accusations. Furthermore in a statement by the East Timorese political elite which was issued at the end of May 2002 they stated that the prosecution's charges were erroneous and contrived. Even the president of the East Timorese republic, Xanana Gusmao, has stated that Soares is not the person who is responsible for what occurred in East Timor.

Through the memorandum for a judicial review, Soares presented two new pieces of evidence, that is that when the results of the referendum were announced and disorder and shootings began, at the time control over security had already been taken over by the commander of the Udayana military command, Adam Damiri.

The other piece of evidence presented by Soares was that since May 1998 his position as governor had begun to be undermined by ABRI [Indonesian armed forces, now referred to as TNI] because [he was] considered to be blocking efforts to resolve the Timor questions though a military approach. He had also been asked by the ABRI commander to resign as governor although the he rejected the request. "At that time my position as the governor was being undermined by the military. They had begun to orchestrate the destruction of the official vehicles belonging to the governor's office by people under their command. I was also demonstrated against by a number of people lead by Aitarak militia leader Eurico Guterres who according to the prosecutor is my subordinate", he explained.

In fact said Soares, the one who acted as the architect of all of the incidents which undermined his position at that time was Colonel Tono Suratman (former East Timor military commander) and Colonel Yayat Sudrajat who at that time was the commander of the East Timor Intelligence Task Force. Both have been found not guilty by the courts.

"What confuses me most of all is the [legal] consideration which convicted me be by pressing the claim that Eurico, as the deputy commander of the Pro-Integration Fighters, was my subordinate", he explained. In reality continued Soares, the troops lead by Guterres were a military wing. He also revealed an incident which was experience by his family when they left East Timor and were tortured and jailed by one of Sudrajat's subordinates.

"The leaders of the organisation FPDK [Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice] which acted as an umbrella for the pro-integration fighters, including my commander were totally untouched by the law. Why was it only Eurico who was sacrificed. What is behind all this? Are they immune in the face of the law in this republic", said Soares.

The prosecution is still of he opinion that Soares is the person who is responsible for the murders at the house of pro- independence leader Manuel Carascalao. (son)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

Ex-governor Abilio Soares escapes jail for now

Jakarta Post - July 17, 2004

Yemris Fointuna and Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta/Kupang -- Convicted former East Timor governor Abilio Soares defied a summons on Friday to begin serving his three-year jail term for human rights crimes in Indonesia's former province in 1999.

Speaking at his home in the East Nusa Tenggara capital of Kupang, Abilio said he could not be sent to prison immediately as he was seeking a Supreme Court review of his conviction.

"How was an order to make me start serving my sentence issued while my application for a a review has not yet been responded to?" he told journalists.

The ex-governor should have been flown by prosecutors to Jakarta from Kupang on Friday to start serving his jail term in Cipinang prison.

"I have decided to stay in Kupang as I'm a resident of East Nusa Tenggara. I have no intention to evade the execution. I have left all the legal aspects up to my lawyers, but I will never go to jail because of military wrongdoings in East Timor," he asserted.

Abilio blasted his trial as unfair, saying he was made a scapegoat to save others from punishment by the ad hoc human rights court.

As the civilian governor of East Timor, he said, he should not have been convicted by the court as he had no say about security issues in the country's former province, which was then under martial law.

"How can it happen that I, a civilian who did not have any weapons, will be sent to prison because of what the armed forces did?" Abilio asked.

The former East Timor military and police chiefs should be convicted for permitting the carnage and destruction that occurred when the province voted for independence in 1999, he insisted.

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) issued a summons for Abilio to appear in Jakarta by 2 p.m. at the latest, and the East Nusa Tenggara Prosecutor's Office deputy chief Bachtiar Robin Pangaribuan came to his home on Friday morning to pick him up.

But Abilio refused to leave for Jakarta and instead sent his lawyer, O.C.Kaligis, to present a letter to the AGO asking for a delay in the execution of the sentence.

"We are in the process of seeking a review. However, it is true that there is no way for him to avoid the Supreme Court's rejection of his appeal," Kaligis told The Jakarta Post.

Under the prevailing law, a convicted person must start serving his sentence after the Supreme Court turns down his appeal, even if he files a request for a review.

Those on death row, however, have their executions stayed until their reviews have been heard.

In Jakarta, an AGO spokesman said his office would issue a second summons for Abilio next week. "Should he defy it again, we will arrest him and forcibly bring him here to start serving his jail term," Kemas asserted.

He said the prosecutors would give Abilio another week, but stressed that it would be better for him to show up in Jakarta earlier.

Abilio was sentenced to three years by the ad hoc human rights tribunal in 2002 for failing to control his subordinates, a dereliction of duty that the court said led to the deaths of 22 civilians during an incident at a Liquisa church in 1999.

His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The former governor has said that if his application for a review is rejected, he will seek justice before an "international court".

Abilio also claimed that he had received the support of East Timor President Xanana Gusmao and 25 members of the parliament there, who all said the former governor was not guilty of crimes against humanity.

 News & issues

Timor police fire tear gas to disperse demonstrators

Associated Press - July 20, 2004

Dili -- East Timorese police fired off rubber Bullets and tear gas Tuesday to disperse hundreds of protesters who had occupied the tiny nation's government building to demand immediate elections.

At least four protesters, most of whom were members of the country's former Falintil resistance movement, were injured in the clash, witnesses said. Police arrested at least 30 people.

The demonstrators occupied the seaside government building late Monday. They were demanding reforms in the security forces and immediate elections in the country, which remains poverty stricken four years after it broke from Indonesian rule. The next round of elections are not due until 2007.

Ex-Falintil members have protested in the past because they feel they have not been given enough say in the running of the country they fought to liberate from Indonesia.

In December 2002, riots in Dili left two dead and destroyed dozens of buildings catering to foreign aid workers and consultants. Mobs also set ablaze the prime minister's home

Those riots were blamed on rising frustration at the slow pace of development in the country and jealousy at the lifestyles enjoyed by the foreign community.

Unemployment is estimated at between 60% and 80%. More than half of East Timor's 800,000 people live on less than 55 cents a day, according to the United Nations.

East Timorese voted to end Indonesia's 24-year occupation in 1999 and become independent. Indonesian troops and their proxy militias responded by killing 1,500 and destroying much of the half-island.

Fretilin, the party aligned with the resistance movement, won the country's first legislative election in August 2001 and now controls the 88-seat parliament.

Rebel leader Xanana Gusmao won the presidential election in April 2002, a month before the country became independent.

Falintil fighter L7 unaccounted for after protest

Radio Australia - July 20, 2004

There's confusion tonight in Dili as to the whereabouts of East Timor's dissident Falantil guerilla fighter Cornelio Gama, otherwise known as L7.

Riot police this morning arrested several people and used tear gas to disperse protestors led by L-7 who had been demonstrating outside the government's main administrative building overnight. The incident illustrates a deepening and dangerous divide between old Falantil fighters left out of the new country's administration.

Presenter/Interviewer: Claudette Werden

Speakers: David Ximenes, director, Civil Protection Unit, the East Timor government

Werden: Are people concerned that he may have been injured?

Ximenes: No injured also because someone saw when he escaped from some care where some of his people pick him up and go.

Werden: What was the protest about?

Ximenes: The protest was about particularly about what Mr Rogeiro Lobarto did to him on April 25, because according to him, he's a veteran and if they need a car to borrow why not ask him to bring back the care why did they use the police because the police is for criminals not for a man like him. Actually Prime Minister gave him the car because he is Interior Ministry advisor but suddenly without any communication they want the car back without notice.

Werden: How many people turned up for the protest?

Ximenes: More than 200, 300 people, they were sitting there crying Long Life for East Timor and Falantil, they protest also the presence of ex-police Indonesia in East TImor police.

Timor police use tear gas to disperse ex-fighters

Reuters - July 20, 2004

Dili -- Police in East Timor fired tear gas on Tuesday to disperse dozens of former freedom fighters demonstrating outside the main government building demanding more reform, eyewitnesses and police said.

About 20 of the 100 or so demonstrators were arrested. The crowd, many of whom had fought Indonesian forces before the territory voted for independence in 1999, started protesting on Monday evening.

They remained through the night until fighting broke out on Tuesday morning, said a Reuters journalist at the scene. Police shot tear gas canisters into the crowd. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Demonstrators carried banners demanding reform of the tiny country's police force and calling for greater democracy.

East Timor police spokesman Ismail da Costa Babo said many of the protesters just wanted jobs and the situation in the capital had returned to normal after the protesters were dispersed.

"They staged a small demonstration in front of the central public administration building," Babo told Reuters via telephone. "It is their right to deliver their opinion. We're doing our job," he said.

During the protest, demonstrators carried a coffin covered by a cloth with a skeleton and the inscription "justice".

After an overwhelming vote to break away from Indonesia in 1999 that was marked by violence blamed mainly on pro-Jakarta militia members, East Timor was under United Nations administration until 2002.

It then became a separate country, but widespread poverty and unemployment persists, and its small size means East Timor faces severe economic challenges.

Much of East Timor's infrastructure was destroyed or damaged in the struggle for independence. It has significant energy resources but these are still being developed.

Ex-freedom fighters hit the streets for jobs

Interpress Service - July 23, 2004

Mark Dodd, Darwin -- Anti-government demonstrations this week in East Timor's capital involving former guerrilla fighters indicate a growing frustration among veterans who feel robbed of their independence dividend in a fledgling nation with a profoundly weak economy and high unemployment.

According to East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, this poses a serious internal security problem for his new country.

Ramos-Horta told IPS, during a brief visit to Australia's northern port city, that the issues of East Timorese veterans are "complex and cannot be solved by violent confrontation but only through peaceful means."

On Tuesday, crack East Timorese riot police, in East Timor's capital Dili, fired tear gas to disperse a demonstration by hundreds of former resistance veterans and their supporters demanding more government support and the removal of Timorese police officers who formerly served in the Indonesian security forces.

They also sought the dismissal of the Minister for the Interior Rogerio Lobato.

The protest was led by former a Falintil guerrilla commander, Cornelio Gama better known by his old jungle code name, L-7 (Elle Sette).

The demonstration outside the central government administration building broke up after riot police fired tear gas. Local media reported three injuries.

Small groups of protestors fled towards the central market. Police detained about 31 protestors including an alleged ringleader, Commander Labarik.

Gama managed to evade capture and was thought to be hiding in the Dili's Becora suburb, where he has a huge following.

Ex-Falintil members have protested in the past because they feel they have not been given enough say in the running of the country they fought to liberate from Indonesia -- with many left out of social programmes and overlooked in recruitment for the new nation's defence force.

For 25 years, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia and Falintil guerrillas during that period waged a guerrilla war against the Indonesian armed forces.

In late August 1999, the Timorese in a United Nations- sponsored referendum opted for independence.

When the ballot results were announced in September 1999, Indonesian military-sponsored militias went on an orgy of terror. The UN estimates more than 1,000 East Timorese were killed in the rampage.

East Timor gained independence in May 2002 after a two-year interim administration led by the United Nations.

But over two years later, there's still disappointment on the streets of Dili. East Timor is long past the independence euphoria as the new Timorese government grapples with bread and butter issues in the fledgling nation.

Unemployment is estimated at between 60 to 80 percent and more than half of East Timor's 800,000 people live on less than 55 US cents a day, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

Ramos-Horta said the plight of former veterans would ease if his country, South-east Asia's poorest, had more money to spend on social benefits.

In late 2000, the Falintil Reinsertion Assistance Programme was funded by the United States Agency for International Development or USAID, to help freedom fighters who were being demobilised.

The programme consisted of four phases: registration; discharge from cantonment; initial reinsertion grant disbursement; and reintegration, providing tools, training and assisted sub-grants to help beneficiaries establish sustainable income-generating activities.

But the identification of beneficiaries proved difficult, as no documentation existed on Falintil membership during its 25 years of struggle.

The International Organisation for Migration implemented the programme throughout 2001, which ended on Dec. 31 of that year. But donors were criticised for not prolonging the grant part of the programme for at least another year.

In the programme ex-Falintil fighters were selected for the East Timor Defense Force (ETDF), but the United Nations and the Falintil High Command agreed the selection process would remain an internal matter within the ex-guerrillas'leadership.

"Claims that the Falintil register was not complete and dissatisfaction with the recruitment criteria, as well as historically-based internal tensions within Falintil, have been the driving force behind the growth of 'ex-Falintil' veteran groups," said a recent report from the International Policy Institute, based in London University's King's College.

According to Edward Rees, a former political officer with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, the decision regarding who would enter ETDF was based on internal Falintil divisions.

"Falintil commanders and their followers admitted to the ETDF were loyalists of President Xanana Gusmao, who was the Falintil commander-in-chief. Of those who were excluded from the ETDF, a sizable minority had an acrimonious relationship with Gusmao," Rees told IPS.

Rees pointed out that a dangerous equation is emerging in East Timor, which probably explains Tuesday's incident.

"Old divisions in the anti-Indonesian resistance movement are being institutionalised in the new East Timorese state with one political grouping -- President Gusmao's allies -- finding a home in the defense force and dissidents under the patronage of the Minister for the Interior finding a home in the police service, and some elements of local government," he said.

Warned Rees: "The institutionalisation of political differences in the defence force and police service will almost certainly cause East Timor to take a regional approach to democracy and possibly follow the worst example - that of its old oppressor Indonesia."

Meanwhile, local reports indicate that the East Timorese government and a group of detained former Falintil fighters agreed Thursday to talks mediated by President Gusmao to work together to resolve disputes over veterans' demands for official recognition and aid.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri also stepped in to help placate matters with the ex-Falintil fighters. He assured them that the legislative process to recognise their contribution to the country's independence from Indonesian occupation was under way.

DIO cleared of pro-Jakarta bias

Melbourne Age - July 23, 2004

Michelle Grattan, Canberra -- The Flood report has rejected an allegation that a pro-Jakarta lobby within the Defence Intelligence Organisation distorted intelligence estimates on East Timor so that the Government got what it wanted to hear.

The claim had been made by a former military intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins, and upheld by an inquiry conducted by a military lawyer, Captain Martin Toohey.

The Flood inquiry made several attempts to interview Colonel Collins but he declined because neither the inquiry nor the army would meet expenses for senior and junior counsel.

He had asserted that DIO intelligence assessments on East Timor in 1998 and 1999 were influenced by DIO's perception of a pro- Indonesian Australian Government policy and also by direction from the Defence Department.

The inquiry examined all assessments on Indonesia produced by the DIO and the Office of National Assessments from 1998 to May 2004.

It "found no evidence of pro-Jakarta or pro-Indonesian assessments". There was no evidence to support Captain Toohey's conclusion that "a pro-Jakarta lobby exists in DIO, which distorts intelligence estimates to the extent those estimates are heavily driven by Government policy ... in other words DIO reports what the Government wants to hear".

One allegation by Colonel Collins -- that in December 1999 the DIO deliberately withheld access by Australian forces in East Timor to a classified intelligence data base -- was not investigated because it is already being examined elsewhere.

The Flood inquiry found "no evidence whatsoever" that the current DIO head, Frank Lewincamp, had exerted any pressure on his analysts to reach particular conclusions, or that he expected analysts to report what the Government might have been presumed to want to hear.

Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins Analysts' ... assessments reflect a robust approach to Australian interests. "It is evident that while Mr Lewincamp tests analysts' views through vigorous internal debate, he encourages analysts to think freely, to express different and robust opinions, to reach conclusions irrespective of government policy and to be prepared to take prudent risks in their assessments," the inquiry found.

There was no current pressure on or within the Office of National Assessments and DIO to produce pro-Indonesia assessments or to tone down criticism of Indonesia. "Analysts are free to call the situation as they see it and ... their assessments reflect a robust approach to Australian interests."

The report said Colonel Collins's 1998 intelligence estimate on East Timor was a "significant piece of analysis". But it raised difficulties for DIO and the Defence Department because it went beyond the scope of an intelligence assessment, including, for example, comments on domestic Australian political developments.

The core of the assessment was useful and it was "unfortunate that there was not a more substantial exchange with Lieutenant- Colonel Collins at the time which might have led to his assessment being prepared in a form which would have made it more valuable.

"The Defence Department and DIO correctly and promptly pointed out in writing to Headquarters Australian Theatre their concerns with the estimate but it is not apparent whether Headquarters Australian Theatre made these concerns abundantly clear to Lieutenant-Colonel Collins."

Australian activist's court challenge to deportation

ABC Radio - July 12, 2004

A controversial immigration decision taken by the East Timorese government is to be challenged in East Timor's Court of Appeal.

An Australian activist accused of subversive activities in East Timor is appealing against his deportation, claiming his expulsion is politically motivated. Even though the East Timorese court system cleared Julian King of any wrongdoing, the government deported him last month.

Presenter/Interviewer: Claudette Werden

Speakers: Julian King, Australian activist deported from East Timor; Pedro De Oliveira, Julian King's lawyer; Carlos Geronimo, Immigration Chief; Claudio Ximenes, Chief Justice of the East Timor Supreme Court

King: I'm friends with a lot of members of ex-Falintil, with many of the ex-guerilla fighters and clandestine members and again it's not a crime, what's the issue.

Werden: Julian King, believes he was deported from East Timor because of his association and work with critics of the government. His lawyer Pedro De Oliveira agrees.

D'Oliveira: [The] government [does] not like Julian King because he have relation with Elee Seti member of Falantil, only this.

Werden: King has lived in East Timor on and off for the past four years, working as a freelance journalist and helping Falintil veterans find work with non-government organisations. He's also doing a thesis on the United Nations examining the theory that the UN acts as an agent of globilisation.

Earlier this year, he came to the attention of East Timorese immigration authorities because of what they claim were visa irregularities. Immigration Chief Carlos Geronimo cancelled his visa and informed Mr King that he required a new visa which he would need to apply for outside the country.

Geronimo: At the time I did ask him Mr Julian King, the only way you have two choices, the first choice you voluntarily leave the country if he didn't do it of course the immigration will take another action, if he was expulsion it means according to our law if we make an expulsion, we have may have another order he may not enter into country for a certain time period.

Werden: In May, King was arrested and his passport confiscated. He was charged with illegal weapons possession as well as immigration violations. But the courts dismissed the charges because of lack of evidence, and ordered that Mr King's passport be returned.

The East Timorese government only returned the passport when Mr King arrived in Darwin. His lawyer believes the government's refusal to obey the court was unconstitutional.

D'Oliveira: But government here, don't understand or maybe they don't know, if they don't like someone they can deport or make anything to who they don't like the government make anything.

King: The government has refused to follow the rulings of the Dili District and High Courts, the Dili Court found there were no grounds for deportation and the High Court some weeks before that ruled there were no grounds for imprisonment and as we had appealed for, the passport must be returned, so the situation is the police and immigration department have gone against the rulings of the Dili district and High Court.

Werden: However the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Claudio Ximenes says its not as simple as that. While he says he can't comment on the particulars of this case until he reads the relevant documents, he says its a matter of interpretation.

Ximenes: There are different areas administration and court work, so both could be right on each particular decision.

Werden: Mr King's appeal is expected to be heard this month.

Ex-Falintil guerillas call for Veterans Affairs department

Radio Australia - July 23, 2004

A riot in the East Timorese capital Dili this week has turned the spotlight on simmering political tensions in the country. Cornelio Gama, a dissident former commander of Falintil who goes by his jungle codename L-7 led about a hundred supporters in a demonstration against the government. The government denies that it's facing a serious challenge. But it seems that one of the biggest problems confronting the world's newest nation remains how to deal with its past.

Presenter/Interviewer: Marion MacGregor

Speakers: Dr Mari Alkatiri, Prime Minister of East Timor; Christiano da Costa, supporter of 'L7'; Jim Fox, Professor and director of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University

MacGregor: About a hundred former Falintil guerillas and their supporters occupied the seafront building housing the Prime Minister's office on Monday afternoon. After more than fifteen hours and an effort to negotiate that went nowhere, the government ordered the police to get rid of them. Eyewitnesses say about 26 people were arrested and four slightly injured.

L7 and his followers claim they've been abandoned by the government. Their bitterness dates back to 2001, when many former Falintil guerillas, who had helped wage a 24-year armed struggle against Indonesian rule, weren't picked for the new national defence force. Professor Jim Fox from the Australian National University helped write a major report recommending that the Timorese army should include a reserve force to accommodate those Falintil veterans who were not considered qualified to serve in the active corps.

Fox: It would be a mechanism for keeping these men under relative command, keeping them involved at a rather limited place wherever they were in East Timor, but would not cost a great deal. In other words they might meet for, in a year they'd meet for two weeks, three weeks training, they would still have some kind of a uniform, but they would still be under command. That was never done, for reasons I fail to understand, during the UN time.

MacGregor: Anger has been simmering ever since. Two years ago, it boiled over in demonstrations that saw hundreds of men take to the streets armed with knives and machetes. Professor Fox says while L7's stronghold is in the east, he could still marshall support across the country.

Fox: The grievances among all of the ex Falintil, the previous militia and the clandestine extends over the whole island, and he can galvanise those sentiments of neglect, which are scattered quite widely.

MacGregor: One of L7's supporters is Christiano da Costa, a leader of the controversial Popular Council for the Defence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.

Da Costa: I think the protest is the starting point. It is the beginning of the process, and I don't think it's going to finish. The government must be wise enough to look at the case of the veterans and the case of L7. We need a veterans policy, like down in Australia you have a department of veterans that looks after the veterans that fought in Vietnam in Korean war, in East Timor in PNG in Iraq.. so why not East Timor after a long period of resistance, a long period of sacrifice can not have a department to look after the veterans issue?

MacGregor: After the defence force was formed, the World Bank, the US and Japan donated US$2.5 million to help former guerillas like L7 return to civilian life. But as few records were kept of the resistance network, allocating that money was not going to easy. In any case, Christiano da Costa says money is not the problem.

Da Costa: The problem here is the management of the funds, that is not properly managed. The funds have been used, or misused so far.

MacGregor: That's an accusation East Timor's Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, strongly rejects. He also denies that his government is facing serious opposition from the former veterans.

Alkatiri: As far as I know, the only ex Falintil that was in the demonstration was L7. See if he is so strong, with a lot of supporters, why only he succeed to bring not more than 40 to 50 people? There is no level of dissatisfaction, this is why, you are always talking to the people that in the general election were defeated and they are looking to get the power of course they are dissatisfied because they are the minor parties, that didn't succeed in the election. They have to wait for the next election.

MacGregor: Dr Alkatiri says if some former Falintil fighters have grievances with the government, that's the fault of the United Nations.

Alkatiri: We inherit a situation, we are trying to resolve it. We are being blamed by others that we inherited a lot of situations from the UNTAET time.

MacGregor: What about creating a department of veterans affairs now?

Alkatiri: That's not the issue for now, we don't need a department just to deal with the veteran issues. What we need is to help these people to be reintegrated into society as free citizens, and not to discriminate them with their own department.

MacGregor : Do you think people are expecting too much from your government?

Alkatiri: They have the right to expect what they like. But I only can do what I can do. And of course people, some, their expectation is so high, very poor people, their expectation is so high..it's legitimate. We need to get them involved within the whole process, to understand the process, to participate. People need to understand.

Australian activist's court challenge to deportation

Radio Australia - July 12, 2004

A controversial immigration decision taken by the East Timorese government is to be challenged in East Timor's Court of Appeal.

An Australian activist accused of subversive activities in East Timor is appealing against his deportation, claiming his expulsion is politically motivated. Even though the East Timorese court system cleared Julian King of any wrongdoing, the government deported him last month.

Presenter/Interviewer: Claudette Werden

Speakers: Julian King, Australian activist deported from East Timor; Pedro De Oliveira, Julian King's lawyer; Carlos Geronimo, Immigration Chief; Claudio Ximenes, Chief Justice of the East Timor Supreme Court

King: I'm friends with a lot of members of ex-Falintil, with many of the ex-guerilla fighters and clandestine members and again it's not a crime, what's the issue.

Werden: Julian King, believes he was deported from East Timor because of his association and work with critics of the government.

His lawyer Pedro De Oliveira agrees.

D'Oliveira: Government not like Julian King because he have relation with Elee Seti member of Falantil, only this.

Werden: King has lived in East Timor on and off for the past four years, working as a freelance journalist and helping Falintil veterans find work with non-government organisations. He's also doing a thesis on the United Nations examining the theory that the UN acts as an agent of globilisation.

Earlier this year, he came to the attention of East Timorese immigration authorities because of what they claim were visa irregularities.

Immigration Chief Carlos Geronimo cancelled his visa and informed Mr King that he required a new visa which he would need to apply for outside the country.

Geronimo: At the time I did ask him Mr Julian King, the only way you have two choices, the first choice you voluntarily leave the country if he didn't do it of course the immigration will take another action, if he was expulsion it means according to our law if we make an expulsion, we have may have another order he may not enter into country for a certain time period.

Werden: In May, King was arrested and his passport confiscated. He was charged with illegal weapons possession as well as immigration violations.

But the courts dismissed the charges because of lack of evidence, and ordered that Mr King's passport be returned.

The East Timorese government only returned the passport when Mr King arrived in Darwin.

His lawyer believes the government's refusal to obey the court was unconstitutional.

D'Oliveira : But government here, don't understand or maybe they don't know, if they don't like someone they can deport or make anything to who they don't like the government make anything.

King: The government has refused to follow the rulings of the Dili District and High Courts, the Dili Court found there were no grounds for deportation and the High Court some weeks before that ruled there were no grounds for imprisonment and as we had appealed for, the passport must be returned, so the situation is the police and immigration department have gone against the rulings of the Dili district and High Court.

Werden: However the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Claudio Ximenes says its not as simple as that. While he says he can't comment on the particulars of this case until he reads the relevant documents, he says its a matter of interpretation.

Ximenes: There are different areas administration and court work, so both could be right on each particular decision.

Werden: Mr King's appeal is expected to be heard this month.

 Catholic Church/religion

Is Protestant church in East Timor down for the count?

PCUSA News - July 16, 2004

John Filiatreau, Dili -- Five years ago, this country reclaimed its independence from Indonesia, becoming the newest, and arguably poorest, nation in the world.

After the independence vote in August 1999, pro-Jakarta militias and Indonesian soldiers killed at least 1,000 East Timorese, forced nearly 300,000 of its 800,000 people to flee for their lives, and reduced much of the capital city to rubble and ashes.

By the time the Indonesians and their supporters left, only four of 40 Protestant ministers were still on the job in the largely Roman Catholic nation, and virtually all of the 60 buildings owned by Igreja Protestante iha Timor Lorosa'e (IPTL, Portuguese for the Protestant Church of East Timor) had been destroyed.

And just when it looked as if things couldn't get worse -- they got worse. The church, known before independence (in Indonesian) as Gereja Kristen Timor Timur (GKTT), is virtually bankrupt, wracked by dissension and by some accounts in danger of splitting. It has lost one-third of its pre-independence membership of about 25,000 and can afford to pay its pastors only a pittance.

A synod meeting last summer ended with one church leader jailed for assault and another nursing a black eye.

Meanwhile, late-arriving evangelicals -- the Assemblies of God, the Bethel Community and Pentecostal communities -- are now the fastest-growing Protestant churches in East Timor, with at least 10 new congregations in Dili alone.

The Protestant church's history in East Timor is a short one, dating only to the mid-1940s, when a few families in the Baucau district, east of Dili, met with some foreign visitors and were given copies of the Bible. Soon these families were meeting regularly for scripture study and prayer, and eventually others joined in.

The first GKTT moderator was the late Rev. Vincente de Vasconcelos Ximenes. It was his son, the Rev. Francisco de Vasconcelos Ximenes, a former general secretary, who was jailed after a knock-down-drag-out synod meeting last year.

Earlier this month, during the IPTL General Assembly, pastors and elders -- sensing, perhaps, that they need a combative leader at the helm if the church is to survive -- elected Ximenes moderator.

How did things go so wrong for the IPTL? Before independence, many members were Indonesians working as government administrators, civil servants and soldiers. The church had belonged to the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) since 1988; most of its leaders were trained in Indonesian theological schools; and its system of polity was modeled on those of Indonesian Protestant churches.

Because of its close association with Indonesians, the GKTT was perceived by many to be "pro-integration" and "anti- independence."

Most Protestant leaders, aware that half their flock was Indonesian, tried to steer clear of politics. They were often silent about Indonesia's human-rights abuses -- although many were secretly involved in Fretelin, the clandestine pro- independence militia -- while Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo became a leading public critic of Jakarta and was rewarded with the 1996 Nobel prize.

The perception that the GKTT was pro-Indonesian began to change in the early 1990s when the Rev. Arlindo Marcal became moderator. Under his leadership it began to go its own way, joining the World Council of Churches, the Asian Conference of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Marcal himself became a proponent of independence, traveling around the world seeking Christians' support. He was greeted warmly at two General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a staunch defender of the civil and religious rights of the East Timorese.

After independence became official, in June 2002, Marcal turned to politics, becoming general secretary of the Christian Democratic Party.

He is now serving as East Timor's first ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia.

It was his first cousin, the Rev. Daniel Marcal, then a prominent GKTT leader, who was cold-cocked by Ximenes during the fateful synod meeting. (Marcal declined to press charges and in fact went to the jail to arrange for Ximenes's release.)

Before and after the 1999 UN-sponsored plebescite, most GKTT pastors fled to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia, and many churches were destroyed or damaged. Some pro-Jakarta members and even pastors reportedly burned and looted their own churches. Some took church-owned cars and other property with them when they left.

What's worse, the churches lost their Indonesian members -- and with them, virtually all their prosperity. "In the Indonesian time, everything was going well," Ximenes says. "In many congregations, more than half of the members were Indonesian, and most of them were public servants, living better than the East Timorese. When they left us, we were left with nothing."

At its peak, GKTT had more than 30,000 members, 44 ordained pastors and 52 trained evangelists. It now has about 17,000 members, 29 pastors and 57 evangelists. Full-time pastors are paid the equivalent of $120 per month, evangelists $75. A tense synod meeting in June began with a reading from Philippians 2: "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."

What came next was a protracted argument about who would keep the minutes of the meeting and whether it was a task for an ordained person or a lay "evangelist." After several minutes, it was finally decided that two people, one ordained and one not, would take notes on what was said and done.

The subsequent conversation involved about 25 participants and had two main themes: 1) It's time to forget what happened in the past and make a new start; 2) a church leader is not supposed to be a "big boss," but a servant; and 3) in church there is no place for politics -- or fisticuffs.

The Rev. Jao da Silva, of Ainaro district, urged his comrades to turn to "our good doctor, Jesus Christ." "All of us are sick now," he said. "We must ask Jesus Christ to cure us. Then all will be better, all our fears will be OK. When we are sick, we take medicine and get strong again. So I say, Let's go to the doctor. He has good medicine for us. For my part, I want to follow Jesus everywhere, forever."

All agreed that the July General Assembly would be a turning point in the church's history. Many echoed Marcal, who said at the time, "If we sit together, and talk together, the problem will be finished. ... There is optimism that the church will grow."

Dozens of people witnessed the incident in which Francisco Ximenes struck Daniel Marcal. By all accounts it was and is inexplicable.

Nothing of note had happened immediately before the blow was struck; Marcal didn't see it coming; no one had time or reason to intervene; and Ximenes never offered an explanation.

No one was much interested in talking about it. Marcal, who later resigned as general secretary to become a program officer for Church World Service, says he's still perplexed but has put the incident behind him.

Ximenes says he and Marcal have made peace, adding, "I don't need to talk to him to forgive him." The prevailing attitude in the church seems to be embarrassment. Everyone understands that Ximenes has been under a lot of pressure for a long time as the most prominent church leader. All are eager to move forward.

In June, however, Ximenes seemed to believe his days as leader of the IPTL were numbered. "If the churches will not use me, or don't need me anymore, I will find another way for my life," he said. "Whatever they decide, I can accept it. ...

"I was thinking that I need some time to go out from East Timor, take a break, study or something, refresh myself, decide how I will be working more for our people in the future." His election as moderator may signal a determination to keep the church intact.

In June, Marcal said, "Many people have come to me, urging me to make a new church ... but I think the Lamb of God is not to be separated." Similarly, Ximenes said, "There is a very great potential for the church to split. ... If we are not (able to) fix this problem properly ... the church will break." He has urged his fellow leaders to put aside theological differences. "If we are too dogmatic on theological issues, it will be difficult for us to go forward together," he says.

Ximenes was the only church executive on the job at the time of the UN-sponsored referendum and through the period of mayhem that ensued.

It was he who led the remnant of the Protestant church into the mountains, where the group of about 100 hid for three weeks with no food or water, watching the smoke rise over Dili.

"I was so sad when they started burning," he recalls. "I think, How long will it take to rebuild this country? How can we rebuild this country? The people are very, very poor. But even (though) they burned everything, they will not kill our spirit. We still resist, move forward, slowly by slowly. It is a very hard life, but our [children] will live better than us now."

He says he has a similar hope for the church. "We are strong in the spirit, but it's very hard, because we have no special relationship with the churches, most of the churches in Asia. We have no 'mother church' in the West. ... People came to our help when it was time to put Indonesia out of East Timor. We had our experience in the past, working for East Timor's freedom, now we come to a new era. ... Now again we are waiting for the support from our brothers and sisters around the world.

"I think our people still need the helping -- not only funding, not only the money, but also resource persons, to train people, to organize people, to help with community development. We're not talking about 19th-century evangelization. ... Our next problem after independence is increasing the economy -- how to help people become prosperous."

Prosperity is a long way off. According to the CIA World Factbook, per-capita income in East Timor was about $2,200 in 2003, and 40 percent of the people were living in poverty. Unemployment was steady at about 75 percent. Nearly one-third of the population was under 18 years old.

Since independence, Protestants and the country's few hundred Muslims and few thousand of ethnic Chinese occasionally have been victims of harassment and violence. In one 2000 incident, Catholic mobs burned three Protestant churches in Aileu. In 2002, Catholic student demonstrators in Dili attacked and damaged the city's only mosque. In both cases, Catholic authorities apologized and helped pay for reconstruction.

 Language & culture

East Timor's linguistic legacy

Radio Australia - July 12, 2004

Two years after independence, the people of East Timor are trying to sort out the muddle of languages that is a legacy of the country's complicated history and politics. There are indigenous languages as well as the languages of the colonisers, the occupiers and the peacekeepers: Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia and English.

Which of these languages any particular East Timorese person speaks, reads and writes depends a lot on which particular period of this history he or she grew up in and was educated in.

In the second of a two part series, Sian Prior reports on what this linguistic legacy means for the people of East Timor today.

It's easy to get confused when trying to get a sense of the linguistic make-up of East Timor.

The country's official language is Portuguese, its national language is Tetum -- spoken by the largest number of Timroese -- but 15 other local dialects are also spoken.

Add to that an older generation who were mostly educated in Portuguese under colonial rule, and a younger generation who were taught Bahasa Indonesia during almost 25 years of Indonesian occupation.

Then there are those who have spent the last four years urgently trying to learn English, to take advantage of work opportunities made possible by the large number of English speaking internationals living and working in Timor.

A difficult transition

When Timor gained its independence after a quarter century of political struggle, the government decided that there would be two official languages in Timor: Portuguese and Tetum. Bahasa Indonesia, which had been the language of the schoolroom, was replaced with Portuguese.

An adviser in East Timor's Ministry of Education, Victoria Markwick-Smith, says the transition in schools from Bahasa Indonesia to Portuguese has been difficult.

"In many schools in East Timor a lot of teachers don't speak Portuguese and hence have to use the vernacular, the mother tongue of the students, or Tetum, or get translators," Ms Markwick-Smith says.

"The curriculum is still the old Indonesian curriculum and there is quite a confusion," she says.

Lost in translation

Ms Marwick-Smith says teachers have to translate what is in Bahasa Indonesia into the students' most commonly spoken language.

"[The preferred language] may be Tetum; then they're trying to present it to the children in -- depending on the area where the children are -- let's take the eastern part of East Timor, Los Palos and Tutalau, where the children's mother tongues are Fataluku and not Tetum, and most speakers don't know Tetum there," she says.

In practical terms in some classrooms, teachers and students are having to negotiate with potentially four different languages.

Ms Markwick-Smith says in these cases, the teacher often resorts to Bahasa Indonesia because it is widely understood.

She says English is also extremely popular, and the cry for English is big from students keen to access a global world.

The Portuguese legacy

Choosing Portuguese as the official language has been a controversial decision, in part because of that generational divide between Portuguese and Bahasa speakers.

President Xanana Gusmao was a revered leader of the Timorese resistance movement, and one of those who supported the decision to make Portuguese the official language when independence was finally achieved.

He grew up speaking four different languages: Tetum, two other Timorese dialects and Portuguese, which he learnt at school under Portuguese colonial rule.

He later learnt Bahasa Indonesia while he was in prison in Jakarta, and has since also learnt English. He argues that the choice of Portuguese is about preserving Timorese identity.

He says East Timor's history, religion and culture derives from the Portuguese presence, and says if the country adopts Bahasa "we will lose ourselves in the future".

"If we adopt English we say we are going to be part of the Commonwealth, but we are not.

A place for Bahasa Indonesia

The president's wife, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, is an Australian who spent many years living and working in Indonesia, supporting the Timorese resistance movement.

She now runs the Alola Foundation, which raises funds for improving maternal and child health, education and economic empowerment for the Timorese people.

Ms Sword Gusmao supports the government's language policies, but in practical terms, she believes Bahasa Indonesia will continue to have a role in Timor. "I think personally Bahasa Indonesia is also very important -- it's the language that the younger generation feel most comfortable communicating in, certainly in written form if not in spoken form, and it's still very much the language of official communications in spite of the decision to use Portuguese as the official language," she says.

Bahasa's future

Is it inevitable, given that Bahasa Indonesia no longer has any kind of official status, that it will eventually fade away?

"I think it will certainly persist for the next 10 to 20 years without any significant nurturing, just because it's a language that the younger generation have been educated in," Ms Sword Gusmao says.

"Those that have studied in Indonesia obviously feel a strong association with the language and with Indonesian culture and society," she says.

"But I think beyond that point there will have to be a deliberate decision to maintain it as an important language obviously of commerce and trade.

"It's important in terms of the relationship with Indonesia that the language be maintained and encouraged as well.

"I think there are some strong links there, and incredibly the Timorese people have managed to distinguish between the Indonesian military and the Indonesian people and there are no hard feelings really."

Equity issues

The president's chief of staff, Agio Pereira, agrees with President Gusmao that retaining the Portuguese language is important to preserving Timorese national identity.

But he is sympathetic to those young Timorese people who resent the imposition of an official language that many of them have never had the opportunity to learn, and who fear being shut out of job opportunities as a result.

"I think we have to have a clear policy of access and equity, and maybe we can learn a lot from Australia in that sense, because of multicultural strategies adopted in Australia," Mr Pereira says.

"We need to have some access equity strategies taking into account the fact that there are social groups that coincide with age groups that really will be disenfranchised badly if you require that Portuguese is the language as a prerequisite to occupy certain jobs," he says.

"You only have to look at the parliament to understand this phenomenon.

"Most parliamentarians don't speak or write Portuguese, most of the laws are in Portuguese and they keep complaining a lot, wanting translation into Indonesian or Tetum.

"It doesn't mean that it will make them understand the laws better, but at least it makes them feel that they also have a window of opportunity to learn through the language that they can express better."

The mother tongue

Radio Australia - July 9, 2004

The various languages of East Timor speak of the history of the place, but in the present they are the topic of fierce debate.

The country's official language is Portuguese, its national language is Tetum, but 15 other local dialects are spoken. Questions are now being raised about what language or languages children are being taught at school. What happens to those who grew up under Indonesian rule speaking Bahasa, who have never had a chance to learn Portuguese? And where does English fit in?

In the first of a two part series, Sian Prior reports on the history and politics of language in the fledgling nation.

Sitting in a cafe in Dili, I am surrounded by different languages.

At a nearby table, three women are speaking Portuguese, at another, a couple of men converse in English.

Young boys hang around the entrance, trying to sell phone cards and chatting among themselves in the dominant local language of Tetum.

And taxis drive past, their radios blaring with pop songs in Bahasa Indonesia.

It's an aural snapshot of the complex situation facing this fledgling nation two years after it was formally declared the Independent Republic of East Timor.

Official languages

Only two languages have official status in East Timor. Portuguese, the language of the former colonial rulers of East Timor, was made the official language after independence.

Tetum has dual status as an official language and the national language, a decision that few Timorese would disagree with.

But debate continues about the wisdom of the decision to give Portuguese its official status.

It's a debate which, if not handled with great care, could lead to a widening gap between different generations of Timorese in coming decades.

A linguistic juggling act

The young boys trying to sell phone cards use English, and chances are they have to use at least three other languages each day. At home, they probably speak Tetum and/or another one of East Timor's 15 native dialects. At school they could be having classes in either Tetum, Portuguese or Bahasa Indonesia, or a mix of all three.

Their older siblings probably speak Bahasa Indonesia quite well, having been educated in that language under a quarter century of Indonesian occupation.

And the boys will be picking up their English wherever they can, from travellers or maybe in classes outside of school hours.

The language of money

English is a useful language to have if you're trying to earn a living in Dili. It's been that way ever since 1999 when the United Nations stepped in to stem the violence that accompanied the Indonesian withdrawal from Timor and to help rebuild the devastated country.

Sister Rita Hayes is an Australian nun with a background in education who first came to East Timor to teach English in the year 2000.

Her early classes proved popular with the many young people in the city who had nothing to do, due to the lack of employment and schooling.

"Initially we had massive classes, we'd be taking a class inside some old, almost demolished building, and they'd all be looking in from outside, they'd be crowding in the doors, crowding in the windows," Sister Rita says.

"We'd be saying something -- because we had no material resources -- and they'd be repeating it through the windows, through the doors, sitting on the floor," she says.

"But it didn't worry them, no, they just wanted to learn."

In the classroom

Sister Rita now lives and works in a mountain village in the sub-district of Railaco, 75 kilometres south of Dili, where she has organised a Tetum literacy program.

She says the language mix in the education system is complicated.

About 65 per cent of the people are illiterate -- they speak Tetum as their first language but cannot read or write it, while others have been educated in Bahasa Indonesia, and can read and write in that language.

Because Portuguese has been introduced as the official language, education is now in Portuguese from Grade 1 to 3, but at present from Grade 4 through secondary and tertiary they still have to teach in Indonesian, because that's what the students understand.

"The teachers are all having to learn Portuguese, so they're learning Portuguese, they're doing some teaching in Portuguese, and that's the way it's going," Sister Rita says. A frustrated generation

In Dili, there's growing frustration among some young people who were educated in Bahasa Indonesia.

The members of the local Timorese rock band, Bibi Bulak, or Crazy Goat, all young men in their late teens and early 20s, have recorded a song in Tetum called "Hau La Hatene Portugersh", which means "I don't speak Portuguese".

"I can dance, I can sleep, I can fish", they sing, "but I don't know how to speak Portuguese".

The song expresses the frustration of a generation educated under Indonesian rule in Bahasa Indonesia, many of whom now feel like they're being excluded from job opportunities because they don't speak Portuguese.

'International communication'

Abel Belo da Silva is aged in his 20s and has more education that most Timorese.

He went to university in Indonesia, and he speaks four languages: Tetum, Macassai, which is the dialect of his local area, Bahasa Indonesia and English, which he studied in secondary school.

Mr Delo da Silva says the most useful language to him now in an independent East Timor is English.

"Because so many foreigners, so many overseas people come to East Timor from NGOs, from UN people, tourists, sometimes, and most of the people that are coming from overseas, they are speaking English," he says.

"It is like an international communication. So this is really most useful," he says.

Mr Delo da Silva says many young people are not happy that Portuguese is the official language.

"It's not because we hate Portuguese people, but Portuguese language is not really practical in today's world in terms of their communication on business, international relations," he says.

"Today we can see why people are speaking English for communication and business."

The national identity

However, those in charge of the country believe Portuguese is the best language to define the East Timorese identity.

Agio Pereira is chief of staff for President Xanana Gusmao.

He says Portuguese was chosen as the official language because, after Tetum, it is the language that the current political leadership is most comfortable with.

Mr Pereira says the importance of the Portuguese language to Timorese national identity was consolidated during the years of resistance to Indonesian rule, when pro-independence rebels were fighting in the jungles, and members of the Timorese diaspora were arguing the case for independence in international fora.

"Portuguese was always used in the jungle. If you look at many official documents of the resistance, all in Portuguese," Mr Pereira says.

"They need to communicate with the UN, they need to communicate directly with institutions in Portugal, it was always Portuguese," he says.

"And the way our leaders express our struggle within the context of human rights, illegal occupation, juridical tone, was always Portuguese.

"We were in a soul-searching phase looking for our own identity, and Portuguese became ours. It is no longer the colonialist language, it became ours, we took it as our language as well and it evolved with us. "Now we have the opportunity to develop it further."

 Business & investment

BP ready to start Indonesian gas project

Financial Times (UK) - July 19, 2004

Shawn Donnan, Jakarta -- BP has completed the relocation of villagers at the future site of its Tangguh liquid natural gas project in the remote Indonesian province of Papua and expects to begin "peak construction" by the end of this year, according to a senior executive.

The Tangguh project is initially expected to include two LNG plants and have an annual capacity of 7m tonnes of LNG when it goes on stream in 2007.

It will become BP's biggest investment in Indonesia and is expected to play a crucial role in maintaining the country's status as the world's largest exporter of LNG.

The new phase of construction comes as BP is working to finalise an agreement to sell 800,000 tonnes a year of LNG to K Power, a joint venture between BP and SK Corp of South Korea.

According to Lukman Ahmad Mahfoedz, senior vice-president of Tangguh LNG, that contract is expected to be signed next month with a separate agreement to sell 3.1m tonnes a year of LNG to US-based Sempra to be finalised by September.

BP earlier this month signed a $1.9bn contract to supply South Korean steel maker Posco with 550,000 tonnes annually. It also has a 25-year deal to sell 2.6m tonnes a year to China's Fujian province.

The signing of the K Power and Sempra deals, Mr Mahfoedz said, will effectively complete the sale of Tangguh's initial capacity.

But BP, which owns 37 per cent of the project, and partners including China's Cnooc are continuing marketing in the hopes of opening a third train (LNG liquification plant). Up to six trains are eventually planned, Mr Mahfoedz said.

The relocation of 127 families living at the project's site to a new village has now been completed, Mr Mahfoedz said. This opened the way for the next phase of the project, with "peak construction" on the two plants due by the fourth quarter of this year. "We have passed a very important milestone," Mr Mahfoedz said.

The Anglo-Australian resource giant faced a series of minor setbacks in building the new village, including being forced to import wood to build traditional homes there to ensure no illegally-felled wood was used in the construction.

BP has sought to market the Tangguh project as an example of how it is meeting new standards of good governance and community engagement at its plants.

Unlike Freeport McMoRan, which has long faced controversy for hiring the Indonesian military to provide security at its massive Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua, BP has also said it plans to avoid using the military for security.

Indonesia's easternmost province, Papua has suffered a long- running separatist conflict.

 East Timor media monitoring

July 1, 2004

Timor Post

The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that the Government will not replace the Minister of Interior, Rogerio Tiago Lobato. The Prime Minister said that the decision will came from him and not from people outside.

The Prime Minister also said that it's not time yet for the Government to start reshuffling just because people outside the Government start demanding.

The Minister of Interior, Rogerio Tiago Lobato, said that the reshuffling within the Government is not up to Cornelio Gama (known as L7) to decide who should or should not be in the Government. Mr Lobato said that only the Prime Minister can substitute him and not people outside the Government. Mr Lobato said that Cornelio Gama (L7) is a person who thrives in rumours and calls everyone dictator.

The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that when people make mistakes they need to have the courage to defend their mistake instead of running away. The Prime Minister said that the debate within Commission C had a tendency to support the opposition by manipulating the number to create confusion. The Prime Minister said "many times I've heard them (the opposition) saying that the government cannot count, but at the end Mr Manuel Tilman added up incorrectly and manipulated it to agitate people. The Government presented itself at the National Parliament to debate the budget and they prefered not to be present to defend their proposal".

The Prime Minister said that then they go out and make false statements to agitate the public.

The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that all the Government expenses is dealt within the Treasury, and not from Minister of Finance's Department. The Prime Minister said that the Treasury, who gives the authorization to acquire supervises and control's Government spending.

Suara Timor Lorosae

The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that the opposition Parties at the National Parliament have manipulated the budget numbers to create confusion within the public. The Prime Minister also said that the opposition added up numbers incorrectly and then blamed the Government for it. The Prime Minister said the Vice-President of the Commission C, Manuel Tilman, manipulated the numbers and had no courage to present and debate, instead going out to and try to agitate the public.

The Australian Ambassador in Timor-Leste, Paul Foley, said that there's no more political tension in Timor-Leste than before, but the only remaining issue in the country is corruption. Mr Foley said that institutions, such as the National Parliament and the Judiciary, need to be strengthened to be able to control this. Mr Foley also said that the Church should be included and has an important role to play.

The Secretary of State for Electricity and Water, Egidio de Jesus, said that undisciplined consumers, who refuse to pay their electricity bills, will see pre-paid electricity meters installed in their houses. Mr de Jesus said that his staff are ready to exchange the conventional electricity meters for the pre-paid ones.

July 7, 2004

Timor Post

A member of the national parliament for Fretilin, Antonio Cardoso, said that the Government of Timor-Leste should compensate or provide assistance to move people currently occupying Government property. Mr Cardoso said that people moved into state property due to the destruction of their own houses in 1999. Mr Cardoso said that the Government should disseminate information, and find the reasons for people occupying state property before throwing them out.

According to a report in the local newspaper two German doctors who are volunteering in Dili were seriously injured recently in Audian when they were returning to their hotel. The newspaper says that the incident occurred when they were walking a short distance from the Golden Star restaurant to Sakura Tower Hotel. A Member of the National Parliament for the Christian Democratic Party (PDC), Antonio Ximenes, appealed to the National Police to place police officers in neighborhoods like the one where the incident occurred in order to guarantee the safety, not only of foreigners, but of the Timorese as well. Mr Ximenes said that the doctors were stoned in the head when they ignored the demands for money by an unidentified group. He also said that the number of such assaults is on the increase.

According to the newspaper 1348 Indonesian citizens cast their votes for the Indonesian presidential election at the polling station in the Indonesian mission in Dili. The Indonesian Mission Charge d' Affairs, Fauzi Bustami, said that the presidential election was a historic one for Indonesian's journey to democracy. According to the newspaper report the Indonesian voters are those presently working in Timor-Leste, as UNMISET staff, NGO workers as well as business investors.

The Minister of Health, Dr Rui Maria de Araujo, said that 7 members of the Falintil-National Defense Force of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) are going to be operated on and nine have already been operated in the National Hospital in Dili. The Minister said that the operation was conducted by an specialist from China with a support team from the Hospital. The Minister said that three more members of the Defense Force were operated on yesterday (nine so far) and their condition was stable. The other seven veterans will be operated on shortly.

The Prime minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that the Government has given all the support and the attention to the veterans to have operations and remove bullets from their bodies. The Prime Minister said that he had asked the veterans before to wait until the arrival of specialist doctors from China, and to give them all the support and attention they need.

The Coordinator of the Comissao para os Assuntos dos Antigos Combatentes Comissao para os Assuntos dos Veteranos das Falintil (CAAC-CAVF), Duarte Viana, said that the Government has to find a way to make dialogue with Cornelio Gama (L7). He said that the Government needs to make dialogue before any problems arise. Meanwhile the President of the Democratic Party (PD), Fernando Araujo (La Sama), said that people have forgotten L7's contribution to the independence of Timor-Leste. He said that as President of the Party he is sad about the current situation in Timor-Leste, and also with thethat there is no recognition of L7.

A Member of the Truth and reconciliation committee (CAVR), Father Jovito do Rego, said that by his observations the court as an institution functions like "a project" in Timor-Leste. Father do Rego said that those who work for the courts use the system as their own project and for their economic benefits.

Father do Rego questioned how the system can function or expected justice to prevail. Father do Rego said that judicial cases are very contradictory, and that is why it does not help many cases of crime committed in 1999 or prior to that.

Members of the National Parliament during a plenary session presented different points of view on how to establish a Commission to study and analyze the Veterans and Combatants document that was sent to the Parliament. A Member of the National Parliament for Klibur Oan Timor Asuuwain (KOTA), Manuel Tilman, argued that the before establishing the Commission, one needs to know how long it will last, the number of participants and the composition of it. Mr Tilman stated that since there are 12 political parties at the National Parliament each should appoint one member to sit at the Commission. A Member of Fretilin in the National Parliament, Joaquim dos Santos, said that the Commission should not be such a large number and should be reduced to ten, and that the majority were ready for the vote.

The President of the National Parliament, Francisco Guterres (Lu-Olo), said at the plenary session this week that the law for Provedoria dos Direitos Humanos e Justica (PDHJ) has been approved by the Parliament, it is time now for political Parties to nominate a member for the position. Meanwhile the Party with the majority in the National Parliament requested to extend the deadline imposed by the President of the National Parliament (last Monday).

Suara Timor Loro Sa'e (STL)

A Member of the National Parliament for Social Democratic Party (PSD), Joao Goncalves, said during a plenary session that the Government is obliged to explain to the Parliament its Foreign Policy on the Timor Sea issue. Mr Goncalves said that it is important that the government explains is not only vital for the economy but also because the population needs to know.

July 12, 2004

Timor Post

The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that the National Census is very important for development and for the Government to continue with its National Development Plan (NDP). The Prime Minister said that it is important to know whether more schools and clinics are needed for the Government to plan ahead. The Prime Minister said that many figures have been put out about the size of the population, but none of them are accurate, and with the census will have the right figure.

The President of the National Parliament, Francisco Guterres (Lu-Olo), said that a Commission has been set up to study and analyse documents sent by the President regarding the veterans and ex-combatants of Falintil. Mr Guterres said that the Commission will work closely with members of the Government and define the appropriate policy for the veterans and ex-combatants.

Former general Susilo bambang Yudhoyono maintained an unchallenged lead over President Megawati Sukarnoputri with more than 70 percent of the votes counted in Indonesia's first direct presidential polls. The General Election Commission said that Yudhoyono had slightly more than 30.4 million votes, or 34 percent, compared with Megawati's 23.8 million votes, or about 26 percent.

International advisers are the ones making projects, says Tilman A Member of the National Parliament for Klibur Oan Timor Asu'uwain (KOTA), Manuel Tilman, said that the judges, prosecutors and technical staff have not turned justice into a project because they have worked according to the rules of law that are endowed on them. Mr Tilman made the remarks following a statement by CAVR Commissioner Father Jovito, who claimed that 'the court process has been made into a project' (seeking money). He pointed out that those making such projects are international advisers like JSMP. Mr Tilman argues that NGOs like JSMP are making such projects in order to get direct financial support from donors. According to the newspaper the presence of International legal advisers in Timor-Leste is a project due to the lack of capacity of Timorese judges, prosecutors and technical staff. Meanwhile a Timorese Legal Defender, Vital dos Santos, said that he disagrees with Father Jovito's comments and argued that the statement is being too subjective and radical.

The Sub-Inspector of PNTL's Dili District Investigation, Angelo Quelo, said that police blocked CPD-RDTL headquarters for security reasons during the 4-hour meeting between the members. The newspaper also reported that eighty members of CPD-RDTL presented a document to the National Parliament demanding changes to the constitution not to replace the 1975 components such as the national emblem of 1975 with CNRT's logo and urgently approve a national identification card based on the structure and emblem of 1975 RDTL.

After the presentation of the document to both the National Parliament and the Government, the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said the Government needs to study it first before recommending it to the Parliament. A copy of the document was also sent to the President.

Suara Timor Lorosae

According to the national newspaper the National Police Force detained the President of the National Mobilization Party -- Partido de Mobilizagco Nacional (PMN), Alberto Pires, last week for insulting the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri. The newspaper reports that Mr Pires had accused Alkatiri of being a thief, so members of the newly founded party were planning to hold a demonstration.

July 13, 2004

Timor Post

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that the President, Xanana Gusmco, has promulgated the budget approved by the National Parliament for the Financial Year 04-05. The newspaper says that the President, Xanana Gusmco, recognized the contribution given by members of Fretilin (at the National Parliament) in seeking ways to find a quick solution for the approval of the budget.

The Vice-Minister of Interior, Alcino de Araujo Barros, said that the detention of the President of the National Mobilization Party -- Partido de Mobilizagco Nacional (PMN), Alberto Antonio de Oliveira Pires, by the National Police was in accordance with the law. The Vice-Minister said that the President of the newly founded Party acted against the law and was trying to cause public disorder. (The paper does not say what kind of public disorder led to his arrest).

Todays edition of the newspaper reports that the population of Odelgamo, Aiasa, Bobonaro Sub-District have refused to participate in the electoral registration arguing that Odelgomo must be established as a separate 'suco'.

According to the newspaper a Member of the National Parliament, Jose Andrade da Cruz, raised the issue during Monday's plenary session, saying that he had also received information that the populations of Maliana, Bobonaro sub-district are reluctant to participate in the electoral registration process due to CPD-RDTL influences.

The Secretary General of the Political Party Klibur Timor Oan Asuuwain (KOTA), Manuel Tilman, made a political statement at a plenary session (yesterday) about the motives that led the party to walk out during the vote in the Parliament to approve the budget for FY04-FY05. Mr Tilman said that by right and according to the Constitution, the National Parliament and the Tribunal for the Superior Administrative of Finance Tribunal Superior Administrativo de Contas, he has the right to oversee and execute the budget. That is why members of the National Parliament from six different parties walked out without taking part in the discussion for the approval of the budget.

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that the Opposition Parties at the National Parliament (PSD, PD, KOTA, UDT, PST and PNT) have withdrawal the list of 4 candidates for the Commission to oversee the Veterans and Ex-combatants papers. According to the newspaper the opposition decided to withdraw the list because members of the National Parliament could not come to an agreement. The newspaper says that the opposition parties were divided into two different groups, and both groups had their list of candidates. The paper says that due to the deadlock the Vice- President of the National Parliament chairing the meeting, Jacob Fernandes, could not make a decision and had to adjourn the meeting with a promise to find a solution by the end of the day (yesterday). (The parties previously agreed to sit 11 members of the National Parliament at the Commission with 7 from the majority party (Fretilin) and the remaining 4 four the opposition parties).

Suara Timor Lorosae

The Head of Health Department in the District of Cova-Lima, Jose Amaral, said that the Hospital achieved good results during FY03-FY04. He said that the hospital has the capability to assist pregnant women and also has an operating theatre. Mr Amaral said that the NGO's such as OXFAM, CWSSP and some local NGO's have given assistance to the Hospital needs and activities around the District.

The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that he needs to first clarify the budget allocated to build a garden dedicated to the Timorese 'heroes', with SRSG Sukehiro Hasegawa, when he returns to Timor-Leste. The Prime Minister said if there is no money allocated for the 'garden' then the Government needs to find other ways to get the fund. Meanwhile the Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak said that a site to build the 'Heroes Monument' should be at Metinaro, and hopes that the Prime Minister will find financial support to secure the place to coincide with Falintil Day on August 20th. The Secretary of State for Labour and Solidarity, Arsenio Bano, said that the Japanese Government has provided an amount of USD165.000 through UNDP for the erection of a monument for those who lost their lives during the resistance war, and the Government will soon recruit people to commence with the works and finish before Falintil Day.

July 14, 2004

Timor Post

A Member of the National parliament for Klibur Oan Timor Asuuwain (KOTA), Clementino dos Reis Amaral, said that even with the final approval (promulgation) of the budget by the President many questions need to be answered and his party is not satisfied with it. Mr Amaral said the reason is that many Ministries have not explained in detail the expenditure of the budget for FY03-FY04.

A Member of the National Parliament ofr Social Democratic Party (PSD), Reak Leman, said that the veterans issue is very important for the Nation and to all the political parties. The polemic generated by the opposition should be pushed aside otherwise it will not get anywhere. Mr Leman said that as a veteran himself he does not want to see the issue of the establishment of a Commission drag on forever and the numbers of members to sit in the Commission should be increased, if possible, to satisfy everyone.

The Minister of Health, Dr Maria de Araujo, said that his Ministry has plans to rehabilitate 40 buildings (some with minor repairs) to be used as clinics and hospitals in remote areas. The Minister said that the rehabilitation cost is estimated at USD$ 600,000, and the repairs will start quite soon. The Minister also said that an amount of USD$ 9,275 was allocated from the FY04- FY05 budget to his Ministry to be able to implement the programs established by his Ministry.

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that the District of Oe-Cussi has received an amount of USD$ 98,000 from RESPECT for projects such as agriculture, infrastructure and training. The paper says that 86 proposals were submitted for small projects in 26 Sucos throughout 4 Districts of Oe-Cussi.

The Minister of Transport, Telecommunication and Public Works, Eng. Ovidio de Jesus Amaral, said that his Ministry will open a new road from Uato-Lari in the District of Viqueque all the way to the District of Baucau. The Minister said that the equipment donated by the Japanese government will be used for the construction of the road. The Minister also said that a technical team will do a survey of the condition of the road in the area of Quelicai, and if possible, a new road will be opened from Quelicai to Dili.

Today's edition of the newspaper says that the Government of Japan announced (Tuesday) that an allotment of USD$ 4,8 million of financial aid to the rehabilitation and supply of electricity project in Dili. According to the newspaper report a communiqui was released in Tokyo by the Foreign Affairs Ministry saying that the funds will be used for the construction of a new power station.

Suara Timor Lorosae

The Vice-President of the National Parliament, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, said that the controversy surrounding the veterans and ex-combatants issue within the National Parliament the opposition parties cannot step aside. Mr Amaral said that the veterans issue is not only for the Government and the majority party at the National Parliament to decide alone, but for everyone to decide. Mr Amaral said that the opposition has an obligation too, and cannot just step aside without taking part in the process of setting up the Commission. Mr Amaral said that the opposition should join hands together and decide on this issue which is of national interest.

A Member of the National Parliament for Democratic Party (PD), Rui Menezes, said that it is important to decide on the candidates for the Provedor de Justica e Direitos Humanos (Ombudsman) for Timor-Leste. He said that every member of the Parliament should have the courage to decide and choose a candidate with credibility for the post. The newspaper reports that three candidates appointed for the post are: Mrs Isabel Ferreira, Dr Aderito de Jesus Soares and Dr Aniceto Guterres.

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that an eye specialist from Australia is treating people in Oe-Cussi with vision problems. The paper says that the eye specialist is treating people at Regional Hospital, in the District of Oe-Cussi.

The newspaper reports that so far more than 400 patients with cataracts have sought treatment from the specialist, and 10 cataract sufferers have been operated on.

July 15, 2004

Timor Post

Today's edition of the paper reports that the President of the Appeals Court, Dr Claudio Ximenes, the Minister of Justice, Dr Domingos Sarmento, and the General Prosecutor, Longuinhos Monteiro, met the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, to discuss the possibility of sending judges and prosecutors abroad for training.

The newspaper says that the training will start in September 2004, and will be basic training on basic judicial procedures and language. The Judges and prosecutors will be sent to Portugal for the training which will last a year.

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that a list of candidates for the person to be in charge of Provedor's Office was presented and accepted at the National Parliament without any objection. The paper says that a Member of the Democratic Party (PD) at the National Parliament, Rui Menezes, suggested that the names of the candidates should be made public before holding an election.

The three people elected by the Parliament are Isabel Ferreira, Aderito de Jesus Soares and Aniceto Guterres.

A Military and Political Observer, Tomas Pinto, said that the three people nominated for the position of Provedor dos Direitos Humanos (Ombudsman) have to bear in mind that they have to defend the national interest. He said that the three candidates put forward by the National Parliament have the capacity and experience to do the job. Meanwhile the President of the National Parliament, Francisco Guterres (Lu-Olo), said that the three nominated members (Dra Isabel Ferreira, Dr Aderito de Jesus and Dr Aniceto Guterres) for the position of Provedor (Ombudsman) dos Direitos Humanos e Justica will be elected on August 16 by the National Parliament.

The District Administrator of Oe-Cussi, Francisco Xavier Marques, said that 90% of the total population in Timor-Leste earn their living from agriculture productivity. He said that in Oe-Cussi, with 45,000 people divided into 26 sucos and four Districts, the majority earns a living from agriculture, fishery and cattle breeding. Mr Marques said that most of the projects recently submitted to RESPECT were for agriculture, and for this reason alone the Government should pay attention to the people's need in the fields.

The Vice-Minister for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, Ana Rosalia Corte-Real, promised that in this FY04 her Ministry will build three new school facilities for the people in the Sub- District of Quelicai, District of Baucau.

The Vice-Minister said that her Ministry will also rehabilitate various schools in the area.

A Press Communiqui from the Office of the Prime Minister says that the Government of Timor-Leste is committed to develop and protect the values of human rights in the country. The communiqui says that the Government will implement the fundamental basis of human rights according to international standards.

The District Administrator of Oe-Cussi, Francisco Xavier Marques, said that since the restoration of the Independence on May 20, 2002 there hasn't been any conflict amongst the population. He said that the Indonesian military are the ones constantly crossing the border and killing cattle and stealing food from people's gardens. Mr Marques said that the military recently crossed the border into the District of Oe-Cussi and detained 4 people and took them away.

He said after lengthy negotiations the military released them but now they have done it again and detained another three members of the population and their whereabouts are unknown.

Suara Timor Lorosae

The Director of National Statistics in Dili, Manuel Mendonga, said that staff conducting the census around Dili have found many difficulties because some members of the family cannot provide full documentation of their identities. He said that many heads of the family came from other Districts.

The Head of the Immigration Department, Carlos Geronimo, said that during an operation by the Police (last Tuesday) to the Hotel Star Bar they found 10 Indonesian women illegally working, violating their tourist visas. Mr Geronimo said that they have ten days to pay the fine imposed by the Immigration Department.


Japan is giving East Timor USD 4.8 million, (euros 3.8 million), to build a new electric power generating plant for its capital city. The donation was announced in Tokyo Tuesday by the Japanese Foreign Ministry. The aid follows a similar Japanese program in 2000 that rehabilitated Dili's old Comoro power plant.

July 27, 2004

Timor Post

The National Police Commissioner, Paulo de Fatima Martins, said (Monday) that the police are trying to speak to Cornelio Gama (L7), who is allegedly responsible for the demonstration at the government palace, on 19-20 July. When questioned if L7 would be tried, the Commissioner said that all depends on the evidence, and if he was involved then the law would be applied, regardless of their status. He added that 31 people involved in the demonstration have been released after they went through an investigation process and the case has now been forwarded to the court. Meanwhile the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that he will not be looking for L7, because the problem of the former combatant and veterans are different issues, and appealed to those who know the whereabouts of L7 to inform him.

According to the newspaper Dili international airport closed on Friday afternoon for about three hours following the discovery of various ammunitions in a plastic bag in one of the bathrooms. The newspaper reports that the bag was inside a toilet of one of the arrival bathrooms, and due to precautionary measures the airport was closed, forcing the cancellation of the Australian Company Air North flight between Dili and Darwin. The case is under investigation.

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that the Vice-President of the National Council of Social Democratic Party (PSD) and former founder of the party, Jorge Serrano, has resigned from his post. The newspaper reports that the former Vice-President decided to quit to concentrate on his business activities.

Thirty-two dairy heifers and two bulls left Darwin on the weekend, destined for a dairy farm outside the capital Dili. It's the second consignment organized by the Kiwanis Club, who have spent about $500,000 to get the dairy up and running. Project spokesman Frank Fotiades said that for many kids, it's just like Christmas. "From the information we have received, kids would walk to school and faint from hunger, they were not getting the right nutrition." Ford Australia donated an F250 truck, which was very generous of them, and we have had it fitted up with refrigeration equipment; the truck just goes around to the schools and the villages with the fresh milk in the containers. "Bet it's like Santa Claus coming, isn't it" said Fotiades.

East Timor's leaders have rejected any possibility of postponing the upcoming second round of negotiations with Canberra on demarcating their maritime border in the oil-rich Timor Sea a move threatened by Australia's Prime Minister last week. "Our position is clear: we will not accept any postponement," Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, told Lusa on Saturday. The second round of bilateral talks "was set for September and should take place in September," said the Prime Minister at the international airport where he saw off President Xanana Gusmco, who was headed to the Lusophone summit in Sco Tomi. The President said that it was a matter of "good faith or bad faith," adding that he hoped Australia would not give further grounds for Dili's publicly expressed doubts over Canberra's intention.

During a seminar in the Sub-District of Lautem, Lospalos, the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that everyone should stand behind the electricity project for Iralalaro, especially the people from Lospalos, for the usage of the water from the Lake Iralalaro to generate electricity. Meanwhile the District Administrator of Lospalos, Olavio da Costa Monteiro, said that the seminar is very important for people to exchange ideas and see the pros and cons of the project. Suara Timor Lorosae

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that the National Unity of Ex-Combatants and Members of the Resistance of Timor-Leste (UNAQMERTIL) Vice-coordinator, Reis Cadalac, has demanded that the Government dismiss the Minister of Interior, Rogerio Tiago Lobato, and the National Police Commissioner, Paulo de Fatima Martins. The paper reports that the demands are not only for those two but also the dismissal of the Vice-Minister of Interior, Alcino Barris, the inspector, sub-inspectors and ex- police officers that worked as Indonesian Police who are now integrated into the National Police Force.

July 29, 2004

Timor Post

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport announced (Wednesday) the national results for the final exams for 2003/2004 where 95.30% of students graduated. Primary schools 98.14%, pre-secondary schools 97.19%, secondary schools 79.04% and technical schools 97.93% of students graduated.

A Member of the National Parliament for Klibur Oan Timor Asuauwain (KOTA), Manuel Tilman, said that for Timor-Leste to not lose its resources the National Parliament will not ratify the International Unitization Accord (AUI) signed in 2002. Mr Tilman announced this at a meeting between civil society and members of the Petroleum Company in Timor-Leste Woodside Energy Ltd.

The F-FDTL Commander Brigadier General, Taur Matan Ruak, said he does not believe that the former combatant L-7 would take up guerrilla or any action to destabilize the nation. The Brigadier said that there is no Timorese like L-7 who had fought for 24 years and want to destabilize Timor-Leste. L7 would do nothing to betray his sufferings and the sufferings of others. He added that he's been trying to get in touch with L-7 since July 20 to resolve the problem, and adding that that not everything can happen overnight, unless through a miracle and patience is the essence to achieve one's goal.

Australian Prime Minister, John Howard (Wednesday) accused opposition Labor Party leader Mark Latham of damaging Canberra's negotiating position with East Timor as the neighbors try to thrash out an agreement on a permanent maritime boundary. Latham's comments that talks may be restarted under a Labor Government have made the future of multibillion dollar gas and oil projects in the Timor sea less certain, with the chief executive of Woodside Petroleum Ltd due to visit East Timor shortly to discuss the future of the Sunrise project, according to one source. What Mr Latham has done by implying that East Timor would get a better deal under a Labor government is to undermine the Australian government's negotiating position and that is against the international interest," Howard told reporters. "This is another example of his ill-thought-out approach to foreign affairs; he hasn't thought through the consequences," said Howard, who is touring various mining projects in Western Australia. Howard said Canberra has been "patiently negotiating" with Dili and wants to bring the talks to a conclusion that is fair to East Timor and consistent with Australia's national interest.

The Vice-Administrator of the District of Bobonaro, Beatriz Ximenes Martins, said that the violence in households in the District between husband and wife has reduced considerably. The Vice-Administrator said that many times women don't report the problems they face daily, and prefer to keep quiet.

Mrs Martins said that during Sunday mass the Church has always raise the issue but it has to come from us as Christians and we need to be responsible for our moral attitudes.

Suara Timor Lorosae

A member of the woman organization -- Organizagco Popular da Mulher Timorense (OPMT), Liberate Xavier, said at the National Women's Congress that no one has talked about the role of the women during the struggle for independence. She said many women died, others were tortured and now that Timor-Leste is independent they were simple forgotten. Mrs Xavier said that because of this, many of the women feel that they were used for the struggle only, and at the end they are treated as just another piece of rotten cloth.

July 30, 2004

Timor Post

During the opening ceremony for the Women Congress in Dili the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that women will be the future motors of the economy for the development of the country. The Prime Minister said that women deserve to be recognized because they have shown capacity. The Prime Minister said that throughout good and bad times women have shown courage and determination and know better than the men the real meaning of suffering.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Sukehiro Hasegawa, said that freedom of culture is very important throughout the world and through the diversity of Timor-Leste. Mr Hasegawa said that it is an important factor for human development and as a bridge for collective harmony that is vital for the economy.

The Minister of Justice, Dr Domingos Maria Sarmento, said that some judges consider the Portuguese language as an obstacle for them and refuse to learn.

The Minister said that in 2000 the Ministry of Justice created a judiciary learning centre for judges, lawyers, prosecutor and public defenders but they have shown no willingness to learn Portuguese.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations (SRSG), Sukehiro Hasegawa, said after returning from an official visit that both governments of New Zealand and Australia have shown their willingness, interest and commitment to continue to assist Timor-Leste. Mr Hasegawa said that Australia's support for Timor-Leste has been mainly on two areas, the capacity building of Timor-Leste's Police (PNTL) through the cooperation with the Australian Federal Police, and in financial management and administration. Mr Hasegawa said that the New Zealand Government has been focusing more on supporting the overall justice sector especially peace and nation building. Mr Hasegawa said that he noticed that both New Zealand and Australian Governments are delighted to see the progress of Timor-Leste's government under the leadership of President Gusmco and the Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, adding that both countries have also been following the work of the National Parliament.

Timor-Leste's National Police Commissioner, Paulo de Fatima Martins, said that he is ready to resign from his position if all the accusations of wrongdoing against him are proven. The Commissioner made the statement following the demands by the Veterans Association, UNAQMERTIL for the resignation of the Minister of Interior, Rogirio Tiago Lobato, and himself. Mr Martins pointed out that facts must be proven before demanding for a persons resignation adding that they are ready to be accountable for any wrongdoing.

The newspaper reports that two members of CPD-RDTL appeared in court Monday for threatening census officials in Suai, District of Covalima. The paper says that a census official, Domingas Barreto, said that she and six staff members were asked to leave the area by members of the CPD-RDTL. When they returned to carry on with their work two members of CPD-RDTL threatened them, and where later detained by the local police.

Suara Timor Lorosae

The Minister of Interior, Rogerio Tiago Lobato, said he does not accept the accusations made against the National Police Force that there are Indonesian spies integrated in the Police Force of Timor-Leste. The Minister said that people who made the accusations made them only because they want the position.

The Minister said that those who worked before for the Indonesian Police contributed to the liberation of the country and we need to value their contribution to and recognition for their work with the resistance.

The Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, said that Reis Cadalac, the Vice-Coordinator of the National Unity of Ex-Combatants and Members of the Resistance of Timor-Leste (UNAQMERTIL), is frustrated because he did not get a position in the Government. The Prime Minister said that for this reason he is using the ex- combatants to see if he can get a job with the Government.

The Prime Minister said that Cadalac had tried previously by using members of the Central Committee of Fretilin but failed, now he is trying it again.

Today's edition of the newspaper reports that the widows and orphans have protested in Mau-Lau (does not say what District) against the Conselho do Suco for not disbursing the amount of USD4 1,000 financed by the Community Empowerment Project (CEP) and the World Bank for a local project. The newspaper reports when confronted with the issue the head of the Conselho do Suco, Raimundo de Araujo, said that he will not give back the money, because he worked many years without receiving any salary from the government.

[Compiled by Jose Filipe External Affairs World Bank, Dili Office.]

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