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31 December 2008

Petition to the United Nations regarding 1999 crimes in East Timor

ETLJB 31 December 2008 - East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin advocates for the activation of the international judicial processes to prosecute crimes against humanity and human rights abuses committed in East Timor in 1999. As a contribution to global civil society's just demands for an international criminal tribunal to try perpetrators, ETLJB is urging our readers to sign the petition to the United Nations Secretary-General to exercise his authority in support of such a tribunal. Go to The Petition for the Prosecution of Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor.

East Timor: Political tensions mount over Greater Sunrise gas pipeline

By Patrick O’Connor 31 December 2008 - A long-standing dispute over the route of a proposed oil and gas pipeline and the location of a refinery has triggered further turmoil in the unstable coalition government in East Timor. The facilities are to service the multi-billion dollar Greater Sunrise fields in the Timor Sea.

In November, President Jose Ramos-Horta convened a meeting with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Mari Alkatiri, leader of the opposition Fretilin party, after which he announced that Alkatiri would "manage and coordinate" the government's oil and gas negotiations. The Greater Sunrise fields contain an estimated 300 million barrels of light oil and 2.53 trillion cubic metres of natural gas. The value was estimated at $US90 billion earlier this year before prices fell.

Alkatiri's appointment sparked uproar among anti-Fretilin elements within Gusmao's CNRT party. Not even the prime minister's public declarations of support for Ramos-Horta's decision quelled the dissent. On December 9, Alkatiri withdrew as chief negotiator after Gusmao, no doubt concerned over his government's stability, appeared to withdraw his backing for the Fretilin leader.

The episode cast a sharp light on the degree to which the Greater Sunrise issue now dominates both Dili politics and relations between the Timorese and Australian governments. The Sunrise liquid natural gas project is headed by Australian firm Woodside Petroleum.

The vast majority of the Greater Sunrise resources should belong to East Timor. Successive Australian Labor and Liberal governments have engaged in an illegal resource grab, first collaborating with the Indonesian Suharto regime in carving up Timor's oil and gas and then, after 1999, bullying and blackmailing "independent" East Timor into ceding control.

After the former Howard government threatened to cut off aid and sabotage all oil and gas production, Dili conceded 80 percent of the Greater Sunrise fields to Australia and agreed to drop its border claims for at least 50 years, by which time the reserves will likely be entirely depleted.

Under accepted international law, the maritime border between Australia and Timor ought to be set at the mid-way point, which would have left just 20 percent of the Greater Sunrise reserves in Australian territory. But the Timorese government had no legal recourse after the Howard government withdrew from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in 2002—a move which the Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made clear it has no intention of reversing.

The outstanding question remains where the location of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) refining plant processing the Greater Sunrise reserves is to be located—in Timor or Australia. Under the existing licensing arrangements, the Timorese and Australian governments must sign an agreement by 2013. According to one report, whichever country processes the gas stands to gain an additional $3.6 billion in tax revenue and billions more in export revenue.

To pipe the gas to Timor would require the construction of a 180-kilometre pipeline, while to get it to Darwin a 600-kilometre pipeline would be necessary. Nevertheless, Woodside Petroleum announced last July that it was ruling out building the plant in Timor on the grounds that the proposed route traversed a deep trench that made construction too risky and expensive. Woodside insisted it would locate the refinery either in Darwin or on an offshore floating facility.

The announcement evidently came as a shock to the Timorese government. It quickly commissioned its own feasibility study, now being carried out by US piping specialist DeepGulf. Referring to the trench supposedly separating Timor from the Greater Sunrise fields, DeepGulf's president Mark Mozkowski said: "There isn't much of a slope at all, contrary to what people say." He told the Age that the only information previously available on the sea bed was "soft and sloppy" satellite images, and concluded that his company's preliminary investigations indicated that a pipeline was feasible.

President Jose Ramos-Horta launched a sharp attack on Woodside in an address in October to the parliament in Australia's Northern Territory. "The pipeline should go where it is the shortest route and the cheapest," he said. "Woodside seems to think it should be based on patriotic reasons, because Woodside is Australian it should come to Darwin...

"Timor-Leste cannot and will not bow to pressures from the Woodside CEO millionaires. We will not bow to unilateral decisions made by these infamous CEOs who mismanaged world multinationals. I, for one, prefer to forgo Greater Sunrise than surrender to the dictates of a bunch of oil executive millionaires."

While the Australian government publicly maintains that the pipeline decision is for Woodside to make and ought to be determined on logistical and commercial grounds, there is no doubt that it is in full agreement with Woodside's decision to rule out East Timor as the refinery's location.

At stake is not merely the enormous additional oil and gas revenue but also Canberra's regional geo-strategic standing. Like the Middle East, the exploitation and control of energy resources is bound up with strategic rivalries. The Australian government oversaw Timor's transition to so-called independence in order to ensure its status as a subservient client state. About 750 Australian soldiers remain stationed in the country.

Canberra's central goal in Timor, as throughout the South Pacific, is to maintain Australian imperialism's dominance by shutting out all rival powers. Control of the impoverished country's natural resources is an essential component of this strategy, and ensuring that the Timor Sea's gas is piped south to Australia is one means of bolstering its position.

To Canberra's consternation, the Timorese elite has attempted to utilise its oil and gas to gain greater leverage by cultivating ties with several Asian powers. Timor is conducting a joint feasibility study with Petronas, Malaysia's national oil company, for a LNG plant and petrochemical industry. Alfredo Pires, secretary of state for natural resources, declared earlier this year that he was confident of the prospects for such investments given China's expressions of interest in buying gas directly from Timor.

South Korea is also involved; a consortium of Korean corporations has been mapping the Timorese sea bed. And in October Timor signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea, granting it preferential access to the Greater Sunrise gas. The deal was Timor's first energy pact made with another country since formal independence in 2002.

Alkatiri first offered his oil and gas negotiating services to the government last August, following Gusmao's discussions with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra. The Fretilin leader accused Gusmao of being unfamiliar with the legal and technical aspects of the Greater Sunrise negotiations and of not pressing Timor's case hard enough.

Alkatiri had played the central role in earlier negotiations with the Australian government concerning the newly recognised nation and the outstanding questions of ownership and control over the Timor Sea's resources. Despite the former Howard government's ferocious campaign of blackmail and intimidation, Fretilin forced Canberra to make a number of unwelcome concessions. This was a key reason why the Australian government launched the "regime change" operation against the Alkatiri administration in 2006 that involved the deployment of hundreds of Australian troops that continue to occupy the country.

Having expended considerable resources engineering the elevation of Ramos-Horta and Gusmao, both of whom are regarded as far more sympathetic to Canberra's interests than Fretilin, the Australian government would have regarded with alarm the prospect of again facing Alkatiri across the negotiating table, this time over the lucrative Greater Sunrise project. There is every possibility that Australian officials exerted behind the scenes pressure on the Gusmao coalition government to overturn the appointment. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/dec2008/etim-d31.shtml

Image added by ETLJB - Fretilin leader Mari Alkatiri - forced to resign his prime ministership in 2006 amid a bloody institutional crisis that left dozens dead and drove tens of thousands of East Timorese deeper into the poverty of internally displaced persons camps for more than 2 years. Foreign military forces restored the constitutional order. Alkatiri's Interior Minister, Rogerio Lobato, was subsequently sentenced to 7 years 6 months in prison for orchestrating the illegal transfer of state weapons to civilians to eliminate political rivals. Lobato was pardoned by President Ramos Horta on 20 May 2008.

East Timor army and police accused of abuse, death threats

ABC News 23 August 2008 12:42pm AEST - Judicial authorities in East Timor are investigating more than 40 allegations that armed forces have used violence, intimidation, and death threats against civilians.

A United Nations report documents a litany of human rights abuses by local police and army officers in the course of their work.

The UN says it is a sad fact that nations emerging from serious conflict often fall into a culture of violence, particularly in the armed forces, which could take years to stamp out.

Aid worker Mark Green has witnessed at first hand the sort of violence that has become all too common in East Timor's armed forces.

As he drove towards Dili one day, he saw a motorcyclist pulled over by local police, the PNTL. With 20 or so officers watching on, two police began bashing the man for no apparent reason.

"The motorcyclist began to cower and then the PNTL officer began to beat him with his fists; he was hitting him in the chest and abdomen," he said.

"There are a number of PNTL officers who have resorted to that kind of behaviour. PNTL officers who you talk to about it themselves would say some of their colleagues are unprofessional."

That beating is one of 44 cases of human rights abuses under investigation by East Timorese authorities

A United Nations report says violence and mistreatment by security forces has risen markedly in the past year

"What we're talking about is some bad apples within the military and the police who used excessive force in arresting civilians, in beating people indiscriminately, in intimidating people, in issuing death threats to people and individuals and also communities," said. UN human rights representative in Dili, Louis Gentile.

He says it is a harsh reality that countries emerging from conflict, like East Timor, will experience a pattern of violence, typically in the armed forces.

"I think if you can answer that question - what inspires people to use excessive violence when they have a powerful position vis-a-vis their fellow citizens anywhere in the world - then you have the answer to that question here in Timor as well," he said.

The UN report is all the more disturbing, given it was tensions within the armed forces that took the nation to the brink of civil war two years ago

Mr Gentile says East Timor has at least avoided the example of some nations where police routinely torture and murder innocent civilians. But he says without stronger vigilance it could take years to change

"The whole point is that, that kind of behaviour is not acceptable, and people who have committed those kinds of abuses need to be held to account," he said.

"And if they're not held to account, then the real concern is the kind of abuses will become a pattern and will continue."

Based on a report by Anne Barker for Saturday AM

30 December 2008

HRW 2006 Report - East Timor: Torture and Mistreatment by Police Government Must Check Abuse

East Timor: Torture and Mistreatment by Police Government Must Check Abuse Before It Spreads April 18, 2006

"We were shocked to find so many credible accounts of torture and severe ill-treatment by police officers." Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch

The East Timorese government needs to urgently address the problem of police torture and ill-treatment of detainees before it becomes widespread, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Independent and internal accountability mechanisms need to be greatly strengthened to stop a slide into impunity for officials who commit abuses.

The 50-page report, “Tortured Beginnings: Police Violence and the Beginnings of Impunity in East Timor,” is based on dozens of interviews with witnesses and victims of police abuse in East Timor. It documents excessive force during arrests, torture and ill-treatment of detainees by the National Police of East Timor (PNTL). Several people interviewed had to be hospitalized because of the severity of their injuries.

“We were shocked to find so many credible accounts of torture and severe ill-treatment by police officers,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “East Timor won independence in part because of Indonesia’s horrific record here. Now some people are saying that the new police force is no better than the old one, and this should worry the government.”

One young man told Human Rights Watch what happened to him when he was arrested in his village, near the town of Maliana:

“I was arrested by the PNTL, and put in a cell for two days and two nights. I was continuously tortured, sprayed with pepper spray, beaten and drenched with water. They constantly threatened me, saying ‘if you oppose the police then you will know the consequence.’ Three police officers came into the cell, locked the door, took off their jackets, then hit me. They were all Maliana PNTL. They were the night guards, and were wearing PNTL uniforms. On the first night they beat me at around 1:00 a.m., on the second night they beat me around 3:00 a.m. Both nights were different people, but both times they were beating me.”

Police and other state institutions in East Timor also regularly fail to respond appropriately to incidents of police abuse. The main internal police oversight body, the Professional Ethics and Deontology Unit (PEDU), often fails to take cases of police abuse seriously, to follow up with complaints, or properly discipline the officers involved. Independent bodies that could take up cases of police abuse are ineffective and lack sufficient material or political support to succeed.

“East Timor’s leaders are ignoring police abuse when they should be taking urgent steps to end it,” said Adams. “The people of East Timor have the right to expect better treatment from their own police force.”

Human Rights Watch called on the East Timorese government to:

- Ensure through public measures and statements that there is a clear, unambiguous and consistent signal from the top that police use of torture, arbitrary detention, and excessive force will not be tolerated.

- Take swift and meaningful action against police officers who torture, arbitrarily detain, or use excessive force against the population, including appropriate disciplinary action against commanding officers who know or should know of such acts and who fail to take action to prevent and punish them.

- Strengthen oversight and disciplinary bodies by providing strong support for their work, penalizing officers who do not comply with their directives.

Human Rights Watch also called for international donors to express their concern about police torture to the government of East Timor; substantially increase support for independent monitoring of police violence and for agencies that can provide services for victims; and fund and plan for long-term strategies on capacity-building, training, and other support to the PNTL.

“This report should serve as a wake-up call to the government and donors,” said Adams. “This young country can avoid emulating its former colonial master, but only if concerted action is taken now.”

After a 1999 referendum on independence from Indonesia, the United Nations took over the administration of the territory. Indonesia left East Timor impoverished, with few functioning institutions. Establishing a new police force for East Timor was one of the priorities for the United Nations before sovereignty was passed to the new state in May 2002. Successive U.N. missions in East Timor were instructed and authorized to help enable the rapid development of a credible, professional and impartial police service.

Recruitment drives for the new East Timorese police service started in early 2000, and basic training commenced on March 27 that year under the auspices of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor. On August 10, 2001, the East Timor Police Service was officially established alongside U.N. Civilian Police (CivPol), later changing its name to the Timor-Leste Police Service, before finally adopting its current title of the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL).

It was not until May 20, 2002, Independence Day, that an agreement was signed outlining the terms and timetable for CivPol to hand over full policing duties to the PNTL. The handover of policing duties for the final district, Dili, took place on December 10, 2003, when the PNTL assumed responsibility for general day-to-day policing for the whole country.

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/04/18/east-timor-torture-and-mistreatment-police

Image added by ETLJB: East Timor police (PNTL Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste) - Accused of torture and abuses by Human Rights Watch. The security apparatus has been one of the United Nations' greatest failures in East Timor.


East Timor Law Journal Blog

Timor President Horta attacks United Nations and Donors

ETLJB 30 December 2008 - East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta has attacked the United Nations and donors over problems within East Timor National Police in his speech to the Diplomatic Corps yesterday.

Mr Ramos-Horta, said that, while he welcomed the criticisms and the endless reports undertaken by the UN Department of Peackeeping Operations and donors, the UN and donors "might ask themselves what they might have done wrong because after all they were involved in the development of our police force."

Australian media recently reported a recent UN report that warned that East Timor was on the brink of anarchy but Mr Ramos-Horta said that he is yet to receive a copy of the report.

"It seems that some in the UN system in Dili or New York are addicted to leaking so-called confidential UN reports to Australian media", Mr Ramos-Horta said.

He further noted that the previous Australian Government had announced in 2004 that it was contributing US$30 million for the East Timor national police force but it was "beyond his imagination" that none of this money was allowed to go to build border police posts or other police infrastructures or to purchase much need communications equipment.

The UN was in charge of police development in East Timor from 2000 to 2003. However, in those three years, only some old Indian Tatas were handed over to the East Timorese police force. "Apart from minor building repairs, some painted up jobs of old buildings, UNTAET and its successor missions provided no support for building infrastructures for our incipient and starving police force," Mr Ramos-Horta said.

East Timor's police force evaporated in the wake of the violent crisis that shook the country in 2006. The worst violence occured when soldiers from the Falintil-East Timor Defence Force (F-FDTL) massacred 12 unarmed police officers on 25 May 2006 outside the Justice Ministry in Dili while under escort of the United Nations flag.


East Timor Directory - Revealing enigmatic East Timor.

Ali Alatas - Defender of Genocide and Liar par excellence

The Guardian 30 December 2008 - Letter Ali Alatas. John Pilger writes: I covered both Cambodia and East Timor as a correspondent; the "urbanity" and "peace-brokering" of the Indonesian foreign minister Ali Alatas (obituary, 17 December) was a myth which he deployed to gull western journalists in Jakarta. Quoting Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu and Rousseau, he lectured the west on the "cultural differences" that made slaughtering people OK: the British, who were then providing Suharto with machine guns and fighter aircraft, lapped it up. Together, Suharto and his British government backers oversaw the extinction of almost a third of East Timor's population. Not only was Alatas an apologist for a blood-soaked regime, he was a liar par excellence, dismissing evidence of massacres in which he was complicit as "entirely fictitious" and using American PR firms to smear those who told the truth, such as the courageous Bishop Belo, a leader of the East Timorese resistance.

In 1989, Alatas demonstrated his contempt for his victims by flying over their graves and toasting his Australian opposite number in champagne as they illegally carved up the oil and gas wealth that belonged to the captive East Timorese. Watch the film shot on board and mark the gloating of such a "widely respected" diplomat.

Images added by ETLJB: Top: Ali Alatas - Liar and defender of genocide. Bottom: Gareth Evans - former Australian Foreign Minister and betrayer of the East Timorese people.

East Timor President Horta's Speech to the Diplomatic Corps

Presidência da República

Remarks By President J. Ramos-Horta

To the Diplomatic Corps

In Dili, Timor-Leste

29th December 2008


Excellencies,

It has become a tradition in some countries that the Head of State invites the diplomatic corps for Christmas and/or New Year gathering. I hope to make this an annual occasion during which I share with you my thoughts on the year that is ending and what we hope for in 2009.

On 31st December, I will deliver my End of the Year and New Year Message to the Nation with a more detailed account of my Presidency. Today I will be succinct.

As you all know, I began 2008 with a very fruitful, memorable visit to Brazil. Before my departure for Brazil, I gathered in my residence all the main political leaders, the Speaker of our National Parliament, Mr. Fernando Araujo Lasama, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, former Speaker Mr. Francisco Lu’Olo Guterres, former Prime Ministers Dr. Mari Alkatiri and Eng. Estanislau da Silva among others, representing the broadest possible political spectrum of our Nation. And this was not the first such meeting. All the mentioned leaders had honoured me with their presence in my residence on other occasions. In these meetings we had the opportunity to openly discuss, in a constructive manner, the challenges facing our Nation.

Some of the challenges we discussed were the then on-going problems involving Mr. Alfredo Reinado and his armed group, the so-called “petitioners”, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and the general security conditions in Dili. We shared the view that we all had a responsibility to contribute to creating a safer environment for our people.

As my visit to Brazil almost coincided with the much acclaimed Brazilian carnival, I was hoping to enjoy a few days off in Rio. However, at the meeting in my residence held before my departure for Brazil, my colleagues urged me to return earlier which I did as they were all very keen to continue the dialogue under my auspices. Within two days of my return on Feb 6th I met with all the said political leaders to continue the discussion.

The discussions were held at a very open and friendly atmosphere. The leaders seemed committed to work together to stabilise the situation in the country.

I told the leaders gathered in my residence that I was determined to have a resolution of the problems of Mr. Alfredo Reinado and the so-called “petitioners” by May 2008. Resolution of these two problems was indispensable if we wanted to see a return of the IDPs to their original neighbourhood.


Excellencies,

You all know what happened on 11th February 2008. The motives of Mr. Reinado remain unknown to me. The trial of those involved directly or indirectly in the 11th February attack on me and the Prime Minister might reveal more facts.

It was feared that the country would slide into a civil war. The usual critics of Timor-Leste and its leaders seemed happy to confirm that Timor-Leste was a “failed State”.

Timor-Leste did not slide into a civil war. The opposite happened. All the State institutions continued to function. We have since entered a period of peace not seen since 2000. My near death, like the near death of Mahatma Ghandi when he went on a long hunger strike, pushed back the people from the brink of a wider conflict.

The “petitioners” who were hesitating to accept an offer put forward by me almost one year earlier began to assemble at a designated point in Dili.

A successful Join Operation ordered by the acting President and Prime Minister induced the peaceful surrender of Mr. Reinado and Mr. Salsinha’s group and this in turn encouraged the IDPs to start thinking about returning home.

The Joint Operation was a significant military and political success, a tribute to the political leadership of the Speaker Mr. Fernando Araujo and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, and the professionalism and dedication of the men and women of our two security forces. The PNTL and the FFDTL dispelled the negative perceptions and fears about them.

Our economy rebounded in 2008 with non-oil 10% GDP growth. The progress can be seen and felt in Dili and across the country.

There has been a steady progress in the redevelopment of our national police and defence forces. The two institutions that almost imploded in 2006 and engaged in shoot-out in Dili have made significant recovery. Challenges remain in the redevelopment of the two security agencies. But I believe we are on the right track.

I caution against hasty hand-over of policing responsibilities from UNPOL to PNTL. While I understand the need and desire on the part of East Timorese police officers to take charge of security of our own country, we must always bear in mind the lessons of a very recent past.

There has been much criticism levelled at the East Timorese leaders for failing to provide adequate infrastructure and logistic means to our police force. I spoke out on this problem in 2005 and 2006 while still a Foreign Affairs Minister. The situation was such that I personally purchased in 2005 three horses for our police in the Laklubar Sub-District who had to walk up to 8hrs to cover some of the remotest areas in their jurisdiction.

While I welcome the criticisms and the endless reports undertaken by the UN Dep’t of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO), donors and the UN might ask themselves what they might have done wrong because after all they were involved in the development of our police force.

I have yet to receive a copy of a recent DPKO report published in one of Australia’s newspapers. It seems that some in the UN system in Dili or New York are addicted to leaking so-called confidential UN reports to Australian media.

The previous Australian Govt announced in 2004 that it was contributing US$30 million for our police force. Why some of this money did not go to build our border police posts or other police infrastructures, purchase much need communications equipment, etc is beyond my comprehension.

The UN was in charge of our police development from 2000 to 2003. However, in those three years, only some old Indian Tatas were handed over to our police. Apart from minor building repairs, some painted up jobs of old buildings, UNTAET and its successor missions provided no support for building infrastructures for our incipient and starving police force.

From 2002 to 2005, development assistance money was far greater than the State’s own budget and yet donors were reluctant to provide direct budget support for the cash-starved government.

I have stated before, overall percentage of the ODA allocated to the agriculture sector declined world-wide from 18% to less than 3% in the last 20 years. I urge development partners to reverse this downward trend.

Donors should make rural development, agriculture, food security, irrigation, rural roads, and access to clean water, access to school and medical care for the rural poor, a top priority in the next 10 years. We would see dramatic results by 2015, our Human Development Indicators will have improved significantly.

I urge the Government and donors to invest more in our youth. I would like to see Youth Centres in every district in 2009-10, with managed free Internet access for our students, library, cinema, and sports activities.

In closing, I wish to thank you all for your support to Timor-Leste. I wish you, the people you represent, a better New Year. I wish you personally, your spouses and children, and other relatives much health and happiness.

29 December 2008

East Timor hits out over UN report

The Australian ETimor hits out over UN report Mark Dodd 29 December 2008 - EAST Timor has lashed out at a UN report that labels the country's police and judicial systems as dysfunctional.

A statement released by the Government in Dili at the weekend questioned the authenticity of the report and accused The Australian of waging a "campaign of disinformation" against Dili.

The UN report, revealed in The Weekend Australian on Saturday, appeals for urgent action to fix the East Timorese police and judicial systems, warning that the struggling nation could revert to anarchy.

The government statement released on Saturday accused unnamed "political and geo-strategic" interests of being behind the leaked UN report.

East Timor's internal security situation was "perfectly normal", said the statement from the Xanana Gusmao-led Government. "Thus, the alleged report did not come from the UN. Once again we are dealing with speculation, other interests and even worse whose aim is achieving certain objectives, political, economic and geo-strategic," it said.

Mr Gusmao and President Jose Ramos Horta are understood to be angry over the report's findings, which paint an unflattering picture of political disunity in East Timor's upper echelons.

Their anger is easily understood as the report recommends generational change among East Timor's political elite.

"To achieve more fundamental stability, it would be vital to focus on considerably enhancing political institutions, particularly the parliament, and invest an extra effort in grooming a second line of national leaders," the report says.

The report, dated December 1, has been independently verified as genuine by the UN after two senior officials contacted The Australian last week seeking details of this newspaper's plans to publish excerpts from it.

It was prepared by UN Assistant Secretary-General Dmitry Titov from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and covered an official visit to Dili and Canberra from November 22-29.

During the visit to Dili, which focused on security sector reforms, Mr Titov met Mr Gusmao and Mr Ramos Horta, and senior officials in the UN Mission in East Timor for talks on "the resumption of policing responsibilities by the PNTL (Timorese police)."

28 December 2008

A survivor's account of the 1999 Liquica Church Massacre

ETLJB 28 December 2008 Excerpts from Chega! - Initially Mobile Brigade police came to the church as if to rescue the people. In fact, Brimob were the ones who started the shooting. Around 1.00pm, the Besi Merah militia along with the police and the military attacked the church. They fired shots into the air to give the signal to the militia to enter the church, and then they started shooting the people. Wearing masks that covered their faces the militia and the military then attacked with axes, swords, knives, bombs and guns. The police shot my older brother, Felix, and the militia slashed up my cousins, Domingos, Emilio, and an eight-month old baby. Read the full account...

From Chega! http://www.cavr-timorleste.org/chegaFiles/finalReportEng/07.2-Unlawful-Killings-and-Enforced-Disappearances.pdf


East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin advocates for the activation of the international judicial criminal process in relation to the crimes against humanity and human rights violations that were perpretated in East Timor in 1999. You can contibute by signing the petition to the United Nations.


East Timor Law Journal - Towards the rule of law in Timor-Leste.

Seeking Restoration in East Timor

Catholic Relief Services Blog 10 December 2008 - Today is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As part of our recognition of the document, CRS director, staff safety and security, Lara Puglielli wrote the following reflection.
Timor office

Following years of violence and abuse in East Timor, President (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Jose Ramos Horta came under criticism for pardoning and setting free Timorese citizens associated with groups accused of committing abuses such as kidnapping of civilians. Some among the Timorese population feel that justice will not be served unless compensation is paid to injured parties and those responsible for wrongdoing are held accountable for what they did.

Ramos-Horta responded by saying that getting over a violent past is more important than prosecuting criminals behind the crimes.

“Justice is not and cannot be only prosecutorial in the sense of sending people to jail…. Justice must also be restorative,” Ramos-Horta was quoted as saying. “We as leaders of our people must lead our nations forward.”

Violence as recent as one year ago, including the burning of the CRS office in Baucau in August 2007, illustrates how difficult it is for a society–once divided and politically manipulated, once injured physically and spiritually–to forgive, reconcile and live in peace.

Can there be lasting peace when those responsible for crimes against humanity perhaps apologize but do not make amends through actions that say – this will never happen again, we have learned from our mistakes? Likewise, the actions of acknowledging wrongdoing, paying compensation, and/or ICC indictments seem to serve the ends of justice, but may not be sufficient to achieve true peace.

Justice with Peace seems to be a rare commodity these days, but some of the key ingredients include:

- a desire for peace from all parties

- mutual commitment to seek and acknowledge the truth about the past, not to dwell there, but in order to move past it

- mutual willingness to apologize, and forgive

- mutual actions that make amends, to the extent feasible, to correct past wrongs in a way that precludes their reoccurrence.

How can we each and collectively act to promote a just and peaceful world where the dignity of all persons is upheld?

- Lara Puglielli

The former CRS office in Baucau, East Timor was burned in post-electoral violence in August 2007. Photo by Jason Belanger/CRS.

UNMISET Report on 4 December 2002 Civil Disturbance in Dili

ETLJB 28 December 2008 - On 4 December 2002, violence erupted on the streets of Dili in the wake of a protest in front of the police headquarters and the Government Palace. The then-Prime Minister Alkatiri's residence was burnt to the ground, as was an Australian-owned supermarket and other buildings and motor vehicles torched. 5 people were killed as police went beserk firing indiscriminately at people on the street (obrigado ba PNTL ho UN). A poorly-publicised state of curfew was declared but people were unaware of it (thanks UN) and so the police continued the violent crackdown the following morning when people emerged onto the streets again.

A UN investigation was conducted into these events. The report from the investigation may be read at : Executive Summary of Investigations of Police Response to Riots of 4 December 2002. (This link will take you to a pdf file on the East Timor Law Journal.)

There follows a report from the UN Newswire about the riot.

Most Serious Riots Since Independence Hit Dili Wednesday, December 04, 2002

U.N. peacekeepers were mobilized today to help East Timorese authorities deal with the most serious violence to hit the country since independence was declared in May. As many as five protesters were killed in the Timorese capital of Dili following clashes between students and police near key buildings in the city.

A witness of the riots told Reuters that at least five people were killed in the clashes, while several more, including a senior parliamentarian, were wounded, some apparently showing signs of gunshot wounds. Reuters reports that today's clashes, which follow a clash involving students and police in Dili yesterday, began when shots were fired by unknown sources into a crowd of protestors demonstrating in front of police headquarters for the release of an arrested student. The protest then moved to the nearby National Parliament building, where shots were also fired (Lirio Da Fonseca, Reuters, Dec. 4).

According to LUSA Agencia de Noticias, about 50 students invaded the governmental palace, where Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri was meeting with a Portuguese ministerial delegation, but they quickly withdrew (LUSA, Dec. 4, UN Wire translation). During the violence today, many vehicles and buildings were burned, including Alkatiri's residence, Dili's mosque and the largest supermarket in the city (LUSA II, Dec. 4, UN Wire translation). According to Reuters, at least one U.N. vehicle was also burned (Da Fonseca, Reuters).

Situation Reportedly Under Control

LUSA reports that calm has begun to return to the capital, but the situation remains tense in the city's streets, which are under heavy police and military guard (LUSA II). Speaking at a press conference following the riots today, Alkatiri denied that the government had declared a state of emergency or a curfew, but called on the population to remain inside their houses (LUSA III, Dec. 4, UN Wire translation). Alkatiri also insisted that neither the government nor the United Nations gave orders for security forces to fire on demonstrators.

He promised a rapid investigation to find those responsible for the incidents and said he was "deeply saddened" by today's events, which he said is going to dissuade foreign investment and therefore make "more difficulties for the Timorese people," who live in one of Asia's poorest countries.

"I am appealing on political party leaders to think about the country," he said. "What has been burned is the prestige of the country and the dignity of the people," he added (LUSA IV, UN Wire translation).

Ramos Horta Calls For "Freeze" In Peacekeeper Reduction

The recent violence in the country should serve as a warning to the international community to hold back on plans to further cut the U.N. police and peacekeeping presence in the country, said East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta from Madrid, canceling travel plans to Mexico and saying he will return immediately to East Timor.

"Today's events should constitute an alert for the need of continued (international) aid for the consolidation of peace and stability" in East Timor, he said. The United Nations has proposed that peacekeepers be withdrawn gradually until January 2004, when Timorese defense and police forces are expected to take over full responsibility for the country's security (LUSA V, Dec. 4).

A U.N. spokesman, meanwhile, said that the recent violence was just a "bump in the road" on East Timor's transition to a peaceful democracy. "I really don't want to speculate" on what has led to this violence, Brennon Jones said. "It's a young government, it's a young police force, it's a young administration and we hope that things can return to normal quickly."

Noting meetings being held today between senior government and U.N. representatives, he added, "There are serious talks going on to try and resolve this bump in the road" (Emilio San Pedro, BBC World Update, Dec. 4, Note: You may have to download free software to access this audio link).

Timorese Blame Agitators, Radical Group For Violence

According to Ramos Horta, former members of pro-Indonesian militia may be behind today's riots, TSF Online reports. "There are elements behind the events, among the demonstrators, that are supposedly linked to ex-militia groups, who have tried to take advantage [of the situation] to cause disturbances," he said (TSF Online, Dec. 4, UN Wire translation).

Some government officials blamed the Conselho Popular pela Defesa de Republica Democratica de Timor Leste for being behind the riots. The CPD-RDTL has been blamed in the past for several violent incidents in East Timor, including a supposed assassination attempt on Timorese President Xanana Gusmao.

"This is an orchestrated maneuver to topple the government," said Minister of Internal Affairs Rogerio Lobato (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo! News, Dec. 4).

However, according to Joao Noronha, a journalist with the local Correio de Timor, the violence may be linked to Gusmao's call last week for the resignation of Lobato for incompetence following attacks on a police station in the town of Baucau by an armed group of 400 men last month (Sandra Cunha, TSF Online, Dec. 4, UN Wire translation).
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7 December 2002 Joint Statement of Civil Society Organizations in Timor Lorosa'e

Never Sacrifice People for Political Ambition

As civil society organizations in East Timor working for freedom and true democracy in this country, we are concerned about and condemn the violent incidents on 3 and 4 December, 2002.

We were shocked by the arson and looting of some shops, offices and private houses in Dili on 4 December. During these incidents, two people died and 26 were injured.

The violence that day began with attacks on the National Parliament building and East Timor Police Service (ETPS) headquarters, followed by rampaging and looting. It appeared to be spontaneous mass anger, provoked by the fatal shooting of a student from the 28 November High School during the turmoil, after which the group attacked the National Parliament building while the Parliament was in session. But careful observation indicates that this arson and looting was systematic and directed.

The incident on 4 December cannot be separated from an incident a day before, when students of 28 November High School clashed with ETPS officers. The students challenged the police because they believed that officers acted arbitrarily in arresting a student accused of a criminal act. On 3 December, some students and their teachers came to the National Parliament to resolve this dispute. The next morning, in accordance with an agreement they had made with the Parliament, students and some teachers returned to the Parliament building. Many people had been waiting outside the building, and they joined the high school delegation. Some of these people then incited students to attack the parliament - smashing windows by throwing stones. One Parliament member was injured on the head by a thrown stone.

After attacking the National Parliament building, the growing crowd, now including High School students and other unidentified youth, ran to ETPS headquarters. During the turmoil, a High School student was killed by a bullet. The crowd believed that the bullet was fired by police officers guarding their headquarters. After this fatal event, some in the crowd, who did not appear to be high school students, abused ETPS officers. They shouted accusations, including that many former anti-independence militias were in the police force. Some also shouted "Oust Mari Alkatiri!" "Paul (Head of ETPS) resign!" "Rogerio (Minister for Internal Affairs) stay!" These people continued to incite the crowd.

President Xanana Gusmão went into the middle of the crowd, eventually succeeding in inviting some students from the high school and university into the Parliament building. But others were incited to go to the nearby Hello Mister supermarket. They burned the supermarket, and then looted the Lorosa'e Dili Hotel (former Hotel Resende). Some others went eastward, burning a government vehicle in front of the Harvey Norman store and throwing stones at cars parked in front of the Landmark and Dili Cold Storage supermarkets.

Then the mob which had attacked the Lorosa'e Dili Hotel quickly went to the Colmera neighborhood, some walking and others riding motorbikes. In Colmera, they burned the Gloria garment shop and shops next to it, and looted the Border Control Service storehouse. After Colmera, the mob, now no more than 50 people, went to the An-Nur mosque in Kampung Alor. They burned houses at the left part of the mosque compound, in front of the mosque. Some of the arsonists arrived in a truck, bring the total to around 100.

From the An-Nur mosque, the mob went west. In Comoro, they burned a house owned by one of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's brothers, next to the Super Wok restaurant. The mob continued westward to the Micro Finance Institution of East Timor, where they threw stones. Following this, the mob was ordered "To Mari Alkatiri house!" The mob hurried to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's home, in the Pantai Kelapa area. They burned a government vehicle parked near the Prime Minister's house. Upon arriving in front of the house, some youth shouted, "Get out police, get out police!" "We just want to burn the house!" Some others threw stones at the house. After a period no response from inside, some youths went into the yard and took out two motorbikes, which were burned in the middle of the street. At the same time, some others broke in to destroy the house. A youth on a motorbike provided a plastic container of gasoline; others used this to burn the house. Some people ordered those burning the house not to burn the Fretilin flag and not to take any goods from the house.

After burning down the Prime Minister's home, the mob turned south, toward a house owned by PM Alkatiri's young brother, a hundred meters away. They burned this house and another, also owned by PM Alkatiri's young brother but rented to a foreigner. Then the mob moved down Bebonuk street to Delta Comoro, where they dispersed.

All of this destruction occurred without the presence of security officers to prevent it. From the morning onward, there appeared to be almost no police officers, neither ETPS nor UN Police, in the entire city.

After the Parliament building was attacked, the riot police officers in front of Lorosa'e Dili Hotel withdrew, although the area in front of ETPS headquarters was already very tense. During the later rampaging, neither the ETPS nor PKF took any security measures. Some trucks of PKF troops were seen, but they secured only a few places. They passed places where rampaging was underway, but just passed by, doing nothing to stop it.

The security of East Timor is still under the authority of the United Nations. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1410(2002), which establishes the UN Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET), the UNMISET mandate includes (2(b)) "to provide law enforcement and public security and to assist in the development of a new law enforcement agency in East Timor, the East Timor Police Service (ETPS)" and (2(c)), "to contribute to the maintenance of the external and internal security of East Timor." East Timor's Police Service, according to an UNMISET-ETPS-Donor Joint Assessment Mission last week, is "currently operating under the executive authority of UNPOL."

The 4 December rampage was not random. Some people incited the crowd with words attacking Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, shouting that the government was responsible for the murder of the youth, that the youth was a fighter for freedom in East Timor. After many people were enraged by these words, they were directed to certain targets for destruction, looting and burning. After one target was destroyed, the crowd was directed to another, and so on until the list was finished.

From our observations in the field, "actors" can be put into four categories: · Those who incited the crowd and directed them to destroy certain targets. These people also supplied gasoline for arson. Most are 20-30 years old. Some have long hair, others have short hair. Some rode motorbikes. · Those who directed the rampage. Some of them had swords hidden under long-sleeved shirts. · People who threw stones and burned buildings. Many of them are teenagers. Possibly they were the ones incited. · Those who looted shops after the rampage. Most probably, these are people incited or who came to watch, but then took the opportunity to steal goods.

The rampaging on 4 December, 2002, reminds us of criminal acts done by anti-independence bandits in 1999, together with their Indonesian military patrons. We find it ironic that the people of East Timor, who are rebuilding our societal and national life from scorched-earth ruins, have had to experience violence again.

We observe that the violence was systematic, and therefore conclude that the rampage was planned to achieve a particular purpose. The purpose is apparently not to take goods, because the prime actors are not the ones who looted. Based on the selection of targets, we believe that the purpose is politics, to disturb the economy of East Timor and to discredit the leader of the present government.

Based what we know so far, we conclude that:

1. The violence on 4 December, 2002 was systematic.

2. This violence has a political motive.

3. Many youth were exploited to implement this the violence without knowing its plan and purpose.

4. Security officers' failure to carry out their responsibilities made the violence possible. This is not only the fault of ETPS, because security is currently the responsibility of the United Nations, specifically UNMISET and its UN Police and UN Peace-Keeping Force.

In order to achieve a democratic, secure, peaceful and stable nation, we urge:

1. The United Nations to better meet their responsibility for security, including taking measures against security personnel who failed to performing their duties.

2. Political elites and anyone with political interests not to use criminal, -barbaric or anti-democratic manners for own aims.

3. Young people to refuse to be used as tools for interests who seek to undermine the struggles for which East Timor has sacrificed blood, tears and materials.

4. The authorities to thoroughly and completely investigate and prosecute all those responsible for the violence on 4 December 2002, while respecting human rights principles.

Dili, East Timor
7 December 2002

Marito Araújo Asosiasaun Mane Kontra Violensia (AMKV) Association of Men Against Violence

Miguel Mane-Telu Concelho Nacional de Juventude de Timor Leste (CNJTL) National Council of East Timorese Youth

Takahashi Shigehito East Timor Desk - Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ)

Abdullah H. Sagran Centro da Comunidade Islâmica de Timor Leste (CENCISTIL)
Islamic Community Center of East Timor

José Jaquelino Gusmão Centro do Desenvolvimento da Economia Popular (CDEP)
Center for Development and Popular Economy

Maria Manuela Leong Pereira Forum Komunikasi Perempuan Timor Lorosa'e (Fokupers)
Communication Forum for East Timorese Women

Demetrio Amaral Fundação Haburas Haburas (Green) Foundation

Eugenio Lemos Hadomi Sustenabilidade Agricultura Timor Leste (HASATIL)
East Timor Sustainable Agriculture

Nelson Belo Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP)

Konsellu Solidaridade Universitario Timor Lorosa'e (KSUTL) East Timor University Solidarity Council

Mericio Akara La'o Hamutuk East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis

Leonito Ribeiro Lembaga Bantuan Hukum "Tane Timor" Legal Aid Association

Tome Xavier Jeronimo Pacific Asia Resource Centre (PARC)

José Luís de Oliveira Perkumpulan HAK Association for Rights, Law and Justice

Nuno Rodriguez Sah'e Institute for Liberation

Virgílio Guterres Silva Timor Lorosa'e Journalists' Association (TLJA)

Joaquim Costa Warga Desa Kolmera Community of Colmera Neighborhood

Submission to Commission C National Parliament of Timor-Leste regarding the Timor-Leste General State Budget for 2009

24 December 2008 La’o Hamutuk Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis - Overspending the non-sustainable “Estimated Sustainable Income”. Unaffordable, unreliable, and polluting heavy oil power plants. Unrealistic and dangerous future expenditure projections. Unwise and unsustainable salary increases. Hidden funding for the National Petroleum Authority. No legislative consultation planned. Read the full report...


East Timor Directory - The leading web directory of internet sites all about Timor-Leste.

27 December 2008

The Bloody Career of Admiral Dennis C. Blair

Counterpunch Weekend Edtion December 26-28, 2008 The Bloody Career of Admiral Dennis C. Blair - Obama's New Intelligence Chief Ran Interference for Indonesia's Butchers By BRADLEY SIMPSON

The presumptive appointment by President-elect Barack Obama of retired Admiral Dennis C. Blair as his new Director of National Intelligence is being greeted with cheers by the national media, which hail his experience, bureaucratic infighting skills and comparatively moderate views on national security issues. The New York Times, in a recent profile, seemed much impressed by the fact that the 34-year Navy veteran once water skied behind an aircraft carrier, in addition to his stints with the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Institute for Defense Analysis (from which he resigned in 2006 over conflict of interest charges involving the F-22 raptor).

But human rights supporters are right to be worried that Dennis Blair will hardly lead the charge for reform in the nation’s intelligence community after the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture, rendition and other crimes. For in the period leading up to and following East Timor’s August 1999 referendum on independence from Indonesia Blair, from his perch as US Commander in Chief of the Pacific (CINCPAC) from February 1999 to May 2000, ran interference for the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) as they and their militia proxies committed crimes against humanity on an awesome scale.

Following the ouster of long-time dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesian president B.J. Habibie signaled that Indonesia would be willing to allow East Timor an up or down referendum on independence following 24 years of brutal Indonesian occupation. The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), hoping to sway the vote in Jakarta’s favor, launched a campaign of terror and intimidation led by the Army, Police and local militia proxies in which they killed hundreds of people displaced tens of thousands, most infamously on April 6, 1999, when militia forces massacred 57 Timorese in a church at Liquica on the outskirts of the capitol Dili.

Two days after the massacre, the Pentagon dispatched Blair two days later to meet with Wiranto and demand that he disband the militias and allow a fair vote in East Timor. Instead, Blair offered assurances of continued US support for the TNI and invited Wiranto to Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii as his personal guest. According to top secret CIA intelligence summary issued after the massacre, however (and recently declassified by the author through a Freedom of Information Act request), “Indonesian military had colluded with pro-Jakarta militia forces in events preceding the attack and were present in some numbers at the time of the killings.” A Top Secret Senior Executive Intelligence Brief from April 20, 1999 stated plainly that “to restore stability, the Indonesian security forces must stop supporting the militias and adopt a neutral posture.” A Top Secret CIA Intelligence Report dated May 10, 1999 reported that “local commanders would have required at least tacit approval from headquarters in Jakarta to allow the militias the blatant free hand they have enjoyed.” Blair’s performance, which prompted a rebuke by the State Department, was part of a fierce bureaucratic struggle between the Pentagon and State Department and Embassy officers seeking to reign in the TNI’s terror.

Immediately after the August 30, 1999 referendum, in which nearly 80 per cent of Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia, TNI forces and their militia proxies launched a murderous scorched earth campaign, killing nearly 1,500 Timorese, forcing a third of the population from their homes and destroying most of the territory’s infrastructure. Following a global outcry and enormous pressure from Congress and grassroots activists, President Clinton finally severed military ties on September 8, with Dennis Blair personally conveying news of the cutoff to General Wiranto.

By this point the TNI’s ­ and by extension Wiranto’s - control of the terror operations in East Timor was being widely acknowledged internally by both State Department and CIA sources. On September 10 the US Embassy in Canberra, Australia dispatched a secret telegram to Washington reporting in the subject line that that the TNI was “controlling and assisting militia” in East Timor. Yet in Pentagon news briefing two weeks later Blair continued publicly to push the ‘bad apple’ line ­ characterizing the TNI’s deliberate destruction of East Timor and murder of hundreds of people as “a bad breakdown of order with some elements of TNI contributing to it and not helping it.” He went on to insist that US training of the Indonesian Armed Forces had paid dividends, with “many of those officers who did have training and education in the United States … are leading a very strong reform movement within TNI.” As Dana Priest of the /Washington Post/ later reported, however, fully one third of the Indonesian officers indicted by Indonesia’s national human rights commission for “crimes against humanity” committed in East Timor in 1999 were US trained. Wiranto, also indicted, is now considering a run at the Indonesian presidency in 2009. The clear links between US training and TNI terror clearly did not trouble Blair, who spent much of his remaining time as CINCPAC fighting to restore the military ties to his allies in Jakarta that grassroots activists and their Congressional allies had worked since 1992 to sever, finally winning their resumption in 2002.

Blair’s apologetics for murder and torture by the Indonesian armed forces in East Timor, and his opposition to trials, international or otherwise, for the high level perpetrators of mass violence, offers a sobering indication of the positions he is likely to take as Director of National Intelligence. President-elect Obama’s choice suggests that he will resist - as Blair almost certainly will - demands for the prosecution of high-ranking Bush Administration officials, much less lower level employees in the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency, for torture, rendition and other crimes carried out in the name of the so-called War on Terror.

Bradley Simpson is an assistant professor of history and international affairs at Princeton and Director of the Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project. He has just published Economists with Guns: Authoritarian Development and U.S.-Indonesian Relations, 1960-1968. He can be reached at bsimpson@princeton.edu


http://www.counterpunch.org/simpson12262008.html

Image added by ETLJB - Parishioners weep at a mass in Liquica in 1999.


East Timor Law Journal - Towards the rule of law in Timor-Leste.

Representations by the family of Angelita Pires to Australian governments

27th December 2008

To: Anti Discrimination Council of Quensland

Access and Equity Complaint

Re: Case of Angelita Pires - Australian Citizen unlawfully detained without charge

Today, Christmas Day, marks the 319th day of unlawful detainment in East Timor of Angelita Pires – Australian Citizen. She has been held without charge and deprived of fundamental human rights. We have requested that the Australian government seek formal information from the East Timor government with regards to her legal status but have not received any response. Our requests are being ignored despite:


* interminable distress suffered by Angelita Pires
* time already served in detention (319 days to this day) without charge
* deplorable living conditions
* threats and fears for her safety
* anticipated legal process based on protracted backlog of outstanding cases in East Timor (refer to UN Report)
* continued instability in East Timor and lack of direction or immediate sign of legal progress

We have also attempted unsuccessfully to meet with local MPs:

On the 9th December we requested a meeting with Mr Brett Raguse – MP for Forde (ALP) representative for my constituency (Ormeau, Brisbane Qld) and have received no response.

On the 12th December I wrote to Mr Robert Stuart – MP for Fadden (Liberal Party) and have also not received a response.

We firmly believe that we have been unfairly disadvantage based on racial discrimination and would like to formally register our complaint and seek your intervention.

Antonio Pires – brother

Maria Francisca Pires - mother

-----

From: the_pires-family@hotmail.com
To: phillip.stonehouse@dfat.gov.au; stephen.smith.mp@aph.gov.au
CC: admin@fecca.org.au
Subject: RE: [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
Date: Thu, 25 Dec 2008 06:15:28 +1000

25th December 2008

Dear Mr Stonehouse & Mr Stephen Smith

We, the family of detained Australian citizen – Angelita Pires, wish you both a very Merry Christmas and a very safe and comfortable New Year.

We ask that whilst you revel in the festivities that you spare a moment in the true spirit of Christmas and humanity to consider Angelita’s plight and that of her family.

Our request for a meeting with DFAT representatives has been completely ignored. It does not even register a mention, let alone a note of regret, in your response (please refer to correspondence below). You and DFAT have again made it clear to us that we, as migrant Australians, are not afforded the same rights as born Australians.

We, the family of Angelita Pires, wish to register a formal complaint. We firmly believe:

* we have not received a fair hearing by DFAT and Mr Stephen Smith
* communication with Angelita’s family in Australia is poor, inconsistent and prejudiced
* Angelita Pires has not received fair representation by DFAT in East Timor

We await your response within reasonable expectations.

Antonio Pires – brother

Maria Francisca Pires - mother

-----

2nd December 2008

Dear Ms Toffolon and DFAT

We, the family of Angelita Pires, are growing increasingly concerned with the lack of progress with her case in East Timor. The lack communication from DFAT, after repeated pleas, is also adding to the family’s distress.

Furthermore, despite lack of legally binding charges, the Australian government has not officially acknowledged Angelita’s unlawful deprivation of liberty – a fundamental right of all human beings.

We, the family of Angelita Pires – Australian Citizen, hereby respectfully request a meeting between representatives of DFAT and Angelita Pires’ family, Maria Francisca Pires and Antonio Pires. We ask that this meeting be held in Brisbane before Saturday 13th December, 2008, owing to opportunity.

I, Antonio Pires, can be reached via email or on my mobile telephone – 0409 492 340.

We await your response with a proposed agreeable date and time.

Antonio Pires – brother

Maria Francisca Pires - mother

-----

Subject: [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]
To: the_pires-family@hotmail.com
From: Phillip.Stonehouse@dfat.gov.au
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2008 16:10:57 +1100

18 December 2008

Dear Mr Pires

Thank you for your email dated 2 December 2008 to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Stephen Smith, about the situation of your sister, Angelita, in East Timor. I have been asked to respond on Mr Smith’s behalf.

Your family’s concern at the protracted nature of the investigation involving your sister is acknowledged. The Australian Embassy in East Timor has been asked to follow up with the Prosecution in an effort to ascertain the current status of her case and obtain an approximate
timeframe within which further action might be expected. We will inform you of the outcome of the Embassy’s enquiries and update you on any further developments in your sister’s case.

It is important, however, to keep in mind that your sister is in East Timor and therefore subject to the laws and judicial processes of that country.

While the Australian Government can provide her with assistance—as it has done in relation to her legal costs through the Special Circumstances (Overseas) Scheme—it cannot exempt her from the operation of East Timor’s laws or its legal system or interfere in the East Timorese legal process.

We will, however, through the Australian Embassy in Dili, continue to monitor your sister’s safety and welfare and provide her with practical assistance when she requires it.

Yours sincerely

Phillip Stonehouse
Director
Consular Operations – Asia and the Pacific

Australian police to expand East Timor training role

The Australian Mark Dodd 27 December 2008 - AUSTRALIA is poised to take a bigger role in the training of East Timor's police force, described in a UN report as beset with 'tremendous institutional gaps', weakly managed and lacking a budget.

Indications of a beefed-up Australian Federal Police role in Timor follow a little-publicised meeting in Canberra last month between officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Federal Police, AusAID and the UN.Minutes of the meeting, which focused mainly on East Timor's security sector, are included in a confidential report by UN Assistant Secretary-General Dmitry Titov, dated December 1, a copy of which was obtained by The Australian. Following a one-day visit to Canberra on November 28, the UN team foreshadowed a bigger role for the AFP in helping rebuild a new Timorese national police force. 'We also visited the International Deployment Group (AFP-IDG) which is impressively developing into a world-class centre for training Australian, Pacific Islands and other regional police,' Mr Titov's report says.

'The IDG is keen to further support the development of UN policing, including increased collaboration on such issues as pre-deployment training and doctrine development.'

The East Timor National Police Force (PNTL) remains weak, poorly managed, without a budget and lacking any investigative capacity, the report says.

Tensions are also again on the rise between the Timorese police and defence force (F-FDTL).

'The mistrust between the F-FDTL and the PNTL is still obvious, with the former claiming that the police are not yet ready to resume responsibility for law and order,' the UN report says.

It warns against the Timorese defence force taking on a policing role.

'In this environment, the F-FDTL (army) has positioned itself as the guarantor of stability even though it has no clearly defined role or responsibilities.

'If not corrected this may present a long-term security danger and may portend further friction with the PNTL.'

One of Asia's poorest countries, East Timor exploded into ethnic gang violence in 2006 following a government decision to dismiss 600 striking soldiers protesting at discrimination by majority eastern-born commanders. The unrest led to the downfall of the country's first prime minister, Mari Alkatiri.

The PNTL imploded along ethnic lines during the crisis and efforts by the UN and key donor nations, including Australia and former colonial power Portugal, to rebuild a new national police force have so far proved elusive.

The Australian understands from sources close to the AFP that current options include a bigger training and mentoring role to help expand the PNTL.

During the Canberra meeting the UN and DFAT agreed it would be premature to set deadlines on the transfer of policing responsibilities from UN Police to the PNTL despite growing pressure.

'First Assistant Secretary (Peter) Woolcott agreed with our assessment of developments in Timor-Leste and stressed the need to avoid any artificial deadlines in the rule of law area in Timor-Leste, in particular in regard to the transfer of policing responsibilities,' the report says.

Timor Leste on Road to Progress, Says Vice-Prime Minister

Bernama KUALA LUMPUR 23 December 2008 - Timor Leste, which witnessed assassination attempts against its president and prime minister February this year, is now making good progress in the development of the country, said its Vice-Prime Minister Jose Luiz Guterres.

In a recent exclusive interview with Bernama here, Guterres said this followed the measures taken by the government under Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao which had successfully restored peace and stability and putting the economy on the right track.

On the security side, efforts are made to improve the living conditions of the police and army and laws to regulate promotions, in order to build a professional army and police force.

Guterres said the government had also started paying pensions to the liberation war veterans, thus helping to create social stability and develop a professional civil service.

"When we came to power (Aug 2007), there were about 150,000 internally displaced people in camps since 2006, but now 80 per cent of them are back in their homes," he said.

The young nation of the former Portuguese colony gained independence in May 2002 after a long and bloody struggle against Indonesia.

During the February assassination attempts led by Timor Leste top fugitive, Alfredo Reinado, President Jose Ramos-Horta was seriously injured. The country was also rocked by violent clashes between government forces and rebel soldiers in May 2006.

"The previous government (under Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri) had made several mistakes in administrating the country, resulting in problems and grouses but since we came to power, we have been making a lot of progress in solving the country's problems," he said.

According to Guterres, the previous government failed to use part of the revenue from oil and gas to invest to create jobs and carry out infrastructure development in a country where those below the poverty level had risen from 33 per cent five years ago to 46 per cent in 2007.

"We changed many things...in less than a year. We started paying monthly allowances to the elderly and handicapped people. This is the first time this is being done and about 80,000 people are benefiting," he said.

Tackling unemployment, currently at about 20 per cent, has been identified as important for social stability and to address this, besides creating job opportunities locally, the government decided to export workers where about 5,000 workers are to be sent to South Korea.

The Timor Leste government is also investing in the development of rural areas -- creating a new irrigation system where according to Guterres, the country has enough land and water to be self-sufficient in food production for its 1.2 million people.

Efforts have been geared towards developing basic infrastructure and the government will be extending the runway of Dili Airport and build two power plants.

Guterres said the government hoped to provide 24-hour electricity supply daily to town areas and villages by 2012.

On investment opportunities, Guterres pointed out that the small country, which is largely agriculture-based, was open to all investments such as in agriculture, infrastructure development, construction, manufacturing and financial services.

26 December 2008

Australian Government maintains warning on East Timor stability

In the wake of a supposed leaked UN report stating that East Timor was on the brink of anarchy (see this post), and subsequent denials by the East Timor government about the political and social stability in the country (see this post), the Australian government maintains a warning to Australian citizens to reconsider the need to travel to East Timor. The following excerpts are from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's smarttraveller.org.au :

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to East Timor at this time because of the fragile security situation and the risk of violent civil unrest. The situation could deteriorate without warning.

If you decide to travel to East Timor, you should exercise extreme caution. Violence could occur anywhere at any time in East Timor. Food and fuel shortages or price increases may trigger civil unrest. You should take particular care to avoid demonstrations, street rallies and public gatherings as they may turn violent and you could get caught up in attacks directed at others.

You should check the security situation with the United Nations Police (UNPOL). See Local Travel below for contact details.

Violent disturbances could erupt in Dili without notice. Known trouble spots include Nicolau Lobato Airport and its surrounds, Bebonuk including the Comoro River, Bairo Pite, Tasi Tolu, Aitarak Laran, the Comoro Market area and internally displaced people's (IDP) camps. You should exercise extreme caution if passing through these areas.

You should avoid all areas where military operations are known or likely to occur.

There have been several recent altercations between groups of people at nightclubs. You should take particular care and remain aware of your surroundings if you go to such venues.

There is a history of incidents of gang-related violence, armed robbery, arson, assault and vandalism in Dili. Cars have been attacked with potentially lethal stones and darts fired from slingshots, particularly during the early evening and at night. You should also avoid armed irregular groups, including martial arts groups, both in Dili and the districts. Bag-snatching is common.

Medical facilities are limited and evacuation may be required in cases of serious illness or accident.

Because of the uncertain security situation, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency.

Public Holidays in East Timor 2009

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF TIMOR-LESTE
NATIONAL PARLIAMENT
LAW No. 10/2005 of 10 August

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS AND OFFICIAL COMMEMORATIVE DATES

The list of public holidays is laid down in UNTAET Executive Order No. 2000/1, of 10 July, with legal effect on civil servants by virtue of Section 4 of UNTAET Directive No. 2000/4, of 30 June (as superseded by Articles 51 and 121 of Law No. 8/2004, of 5 May – The Statute of the Civil Service).

A holiday is, by definition, a day devoted to rest and the commemoration of a historic or religious event, providing an opportunity to deepen human relationships. Thus, the dates that should be considered holidays are primarily intended to exonerate employees from their duty to report to work, without forfeiting their wages and other work entitlements.

The public holidays in force in Timor-Leste were adopted within a context of transition to independence under the auspices of the United Nations which ended on 20 May 2002.

Therefore, there is now a need to vest such public holidays with legitimacy arising from the country’s reacquired sovereignty and the people’s will represented by the National
Parliament as a law-making organ of sovereignty.

Amending the list of holidays, thus clarifying the doubts that have been raised regarding the legal characterisation of some festive or commemorative dates and the scope, objective and subjective, of their application, is therefore justified.

Thus, pursuant to Section 92 and Subsection 95.1 of the Constitution, the National

Parliament enacts the following to have the force of law:

Article 1
Scope of Application

This Law, which applies to all working regimes of the public and private sectors, lays down the legal regime for holidays, official commemorative dates, and time-off from work.

Article 2
Public Holidays

1. The following are designated as public holidays observed every year on a fixed date:

(a) 1 January New Year’s Day

(b) 1 May Labour Day

(c) 20 May Independence Restoration Day

(d) 30 August Popular Consultation Day

(e) 1 November All Saints’ Day

(f) 2 November All Souls’ Day

(g) 12 November National Youth Day

(h) 28 November Proclamation of Independence Day

(i) 7 December National Heroes’ Day

(j) 8 December Day of the Immaculate Conception the Patroness of Timor-Leste

(l) 25 December Christmas Day

2. The following are public holidays observed every year on a variable date:

(a) Good Friday as part of the Christian celebrations of Easter;

(b) Idul Fitri which marks the end of Ramadan for Muslims;

(c) Feast of the Body of God;

(d) Idul Adha as the sacrifice day for Muslims.

3. The exact dates of the holidays provided for in subarticle 2.2 above are set annually in the month of January of the year to which they refer, by the Cabinet member responsible for labour.

Read the entire text of Law on Public Holidays and Official Commemorative Dates at East Timor Law Journal.



East Timor Directory - Enigmatic East Timor online

2004 National Dialogue on Justice - Speech by President Xanana Gusmao

Opening address by H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste On the occasion of the 3rd National Dialogue

Dili, 5th March, 2004

NATIONAL DIALOGUE ON JUSTICE

Excellency, President of the National Parliament,
Excellency, Prime Minister,
Excellency, President of the Court of Appeal,
Excellency, Prosecutor-General,
Excellencies, Ministers of State,
Excellency, Minister for Justice,

Distinguished Members of the National Parliament,
Distinguished Members of Government,

Distinguished Forum Participants,

It was with great pleasure that the Presidency of the Republic undertook, at the request of the Government, the preparations for this Forum to debate the Judicial System.

And it is also with great pleasure that I welcome you all here today to this Forum. Your presence here reveals our collective concern for issues of national interest and dimension.

Justice is an issue of the State. The State should be the watchdog to ensure that Justice is well enforced. Justice is more than just punishing; it is to serve. Justice punishes law offenders in order to serve society. Justice punishes individuals who violate the interests of society, and thus, serves the people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I believe that we all know a little of the major difficulties that the Courts are facing.

However, I should say that little is known of the existence or of the lack of conditions in infrastructure, transportation and equipment, which would have been the basic support for the Justice sector to function adequately. The District Court of Suai functions in Dili and this fact alone reveals a need.

I believe that we all have a vague idea of the problems related to the backlog of cases that continue to stack in the courts; of the problems related to the methodology applied in trials, which involve prosecutors, public defenders, judges and lawyers; trials which sometimes emphasize the need for mentoring, supervision and discipline.

Sometimes we hear of illegal detentions and of complaints about the way the Courts are managed and administered. We hear also of existing or lack of relations between the various instances of the Justice sector.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we all know, I have always called attention to the state of justice in Timor-Leste.

Perhaps there are some who may think that I always purposely make reference to justice, merely because I have nothing else to do, and that it is my job to direct criticism at other institutions. The truth is that the issue of Justice is serious! Very serious! It is a serious issue as the Courts constitute the fourth pillar of sovereignty of the Democratic State. It is a serious issue, because if Justice does not function, all the efforts to establish a democratic system in Timor-Leste will fail. The system can only be democratic when justice is applied responsibly and professionally!

Nowadays, the issue of the independence of the Courts is often raised, as if this were the only way to guarantee good justice in Timor-Leste! The independence of the Courts is merely one aspect, because it does not absolutely mean that the agents of Justice do not have, like any one of us, the added responsibilities in building the State.

The State belongs to us all, and we all have to care for this State!

The professionalism of the protagonists of Justice is the most important aspect, a sine que non condition for justice to serve Justice. And so that there is professionalism, ethics are also important components. But the conscience of responsibility is fundamental.

There are also the duties of citizenship, from which the agents of Justice should not think they are exempt. If justice were to be applied merely for gains, then Timor-Leste would be a shelter for mafias and for the corrupt.

It is for this reason that the agents of Justice should be evaluated in the performance of their functions and obligations, so that society can respect justice and believe that justice does exist in the Democratic State of
Timor-Leste.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For the next two and half days, we will debate on "What kind of Justice do we want for Timor-Leste"? How do we implement it, nurture it, strengthen it will be the questions that emerge.

I hope that the discussions are guided by common sense and by a profound notion of citizenship and responsibility. It is not worth preparing ourselves only to point the finger. It is more worthwhile to diagnose the illnesses that we have in our bodies, in the Justice sector as the Judicial System of independent Timor-Leste. It is more worthwhile to detect the contagious dangers that the illnesses can provoke in society and in the whole State.

We are here to contribute and participate, because we are here to build. Justice is a serious issue; Justice is an issue of the State and not of the individual. The building of the Rule of Law demands that all of us, as citizens, undertake this.

I wish you all success, because from here we are sending a message to our People that they can count on us, their sons and daughters, to serve better each time.

East Timor Prime Minister responds to media reports about stability

IV Constitutional Government Office of the Prime Minister Dili, 26th December 2008

According to The Australian journal, in an article published in the edition on Tuesday (23/12), created by the journalist Mark Dodd ("East Timor" at risk of anarchy 'says UN report"), East Timor live a chaotic situation:

"East Timor risks a repeat of the anarchy that gripped the country in 2006 were it Dysfunctional has a police force, the chaotic justice system, the divided political leadership grappling with" dismal "social problems and an economy facing a" precipitous fall "in oil revenue. "

The author mentioned, as an alleged source, one report, from the United Nations that would aim to base decisions for future UN missions in East Timor. However, the nature of this source is based on leaks of information or, quite possibly, very convenient information based in political and geostrategic interests behind this disclosure.

According to the press release of UNMIT (24/12), the internal situation in Timor-Leste (2008) is perfectly normal, as the title of the official notice "Progress in East Timor in 2008, quiet and peaceful situation."

Thus, the alleged report did not come from UN. Once again, we are dealing with speculation, other interests and even worse, with the aim of achieving certain objectives: political, economic and geostrategic.

Indeed, after one trilateral meeting with UNPOL, ISF and the Timorese authorities, where was discussed the situation in East-Timor (at previous months), the level of internal security was considered improved in all aspects. This situation reflects the cooperation between the International Forces (UNPOL, ISF) and the National Authorities, PNTL and F-FDTL.

In a press conference held this Friday (22/12), after one meeting with the Acting Inspector PNTL, Afonso de Jesus, and UNPOL, the evaluation for same situation, internal security, was positive.

Confronted with this campaign of disinformation, we want to report some facts:

• Stability and security of the last recent years reflect the work and dedication of our National Police. We can observe that the normality we have in our society is due to the exercise of its responsibility to restore public order. It means that National Police is functional.

• Legal problems are not unique problems of East Timor. Unfortunately, they exist in all most of the world, even at the so-called first world countries.

• Disagreement is part of human nature and people of East-Timor and their leadership are not here too, exceptions. We believe that the differences are natural in all democracies and do not contribute to an eventual anarchy as The Australian describes.

• This government, led by Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, manages to resolve, in one year, outstanding problems, inherited from the military and political crisis of 2006. In about one and a half years, the situations related to IDPs, petitioners, pensions for elderly, vulnerable and former combatants of national liberation, were resolved.

• The financial crisis is international and is responsible for instability in oil prices and scarcity of food. This crisis has affected the whole world, including major economies. Given this reality, the Government of Timor-Leste has created an Economic Stabilization Fund in response to the current crisis and others that eventually the successor.

Contact: Antonio Ramos da Silva Assessor da Imprensa do PM email:gabinetemediapm@gmail.com mobile:+6707288072

East Timor "Our Land" Program records 302 land claims

PRESS RELEASE FROM 'ITA NIA RAI' 26 December 2008 302 LAND CLAIMS RECORDED ALREADY: THE 'ITA NIA RAI' PROCESS IS PROGRESSING PEACEFULLY

The USAID-funded 'Ita Nia Rai', or ‘Our Land’ program, working through the National Directorate for Land and Property (DNTPSC) has already collected 302 land claims in two pilot areas in Liquica and Manatuto districts, Timor-Leste.

One of the first in Timor-Leste to make a land claim was Mrs. Madalena Soares da Silva, a widow from the Ma'abat area of Manatuto District. Mrs. Soares had to say about the process: “I feel happy that I have made my claim because in the future the government will give me a title to my land. The land I am living on now was handed down to me from my grandfather through my mother. They are dead now, so the land has come to me. I agreed on my boundaries with my neighbors and we didn’t have any problems about that.”

Until now, nobody has disputed Mrs. da Silva’s land claim. She hopes that, with the passage of the Government’s long-awaited Land Law there will be a formal recognition of her right to the land in the form of a land title. ‘Ita Nia Rai’’s Field Manager in Manatuto district confirmed that in Manatuto, very few disputes have arisen so far.

Project Specialist, David Alves Lopes, said that the reaction in communities was very positive Overall, people are just appreciative of the opportunity to make their claim, and they are understanding that others must also have the same opportunity.”

According to Mr. Antonio Verdial, the Director of the DNTPSC, this important program will be expanded to other areas in 2009. “Based on the success of the program in the pilot areas, we plan to open the process in two new areas in early 2009, Aileu [South of Dili] and Baucau [the country’s second largest city, East of Dili]. To this end, we have already begun consulting with the local authorities there, and they are ready to welcome the program,” commented Director Verdial.

The land claims collection process began in mid-November in two pilot areas, Manatuto and Liquica towns. The program was officially launched on November 6th 2008 by the Minister of Justice and the United States Ambassador, the first ever community level initiative to strengthen land rights in Timor-Leste. According to Article 54 of Timor-Leste’s Constitution, every citizen has the right to private property.

The Ita Nia Rai (‘Our Land’) program is a five-year project funded by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Working with the DNTPSC and the Ministry of Justice, the program provides technical and policy support to develop a sustainable and transparent property rights system in Timor-Leste, through its implementing partners ARD Inc, ACDI/VOCA, Land Equity International, and the local NGO Belun.

- Ends For more information please contact: Breanna Ridsdel, bridsdel@sprtl.tl
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