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15 January 2013

Military continues inappropriate interventions in public affairs in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 10 January 2013 - The chief of the East Timor Defence Forces, Major General Lere Anan Timor, continues his rampages of inappropriate interfere in public affairs with more extraordinary statements regarding East Timorese citizens who were supporters of autonomy who are still in Indonesia but who may wish to return to their homeland.

According to an English translation of a report published by Timor Post on 08 January 2013, the Major General has publicly stated during his speech at a certificate award ceremony for members of the clandestine resistance organization “Sacred Family”, held at Suku Bidau-Santana, Dili, Saturday 6 January last that “I have heard that our fellow Timorese who are living in Atambua [Indonesia] want to return to Timor-Leste.  I do not agree with this, despite some of our political leaders strong desire to use this as a means to promote national unity,” declared General Lere

The Timor Post report continues : "The one time guerrilla commander stated that his reason for disagreeing with the return of pro-autonomy Timorese living in Atambua is his concern it will lead to conflicts over land ownership and other issues between Timorese who currently live in and those wanting to return to Timor-Leste.

He is reported further to have said that those Timorese who return from Atambua to live in Timor-Leste no longer have a right to claim any resources they left behind in Timor-Leste or their birthplace."

This is the latest outburst from the leader of East Timor's military in a series of reported comments on matters of public policy which have been reported by ETLJB including, in addition to earlier remarks about East Timorese returning to their homeland,  the declaration of an unconsitutionally-discriminative recruitment policy for the armed forces and the torture and deprivation of basic rights of citizens accused of creating instability.

Image of Hercules
Hercules
At the same time, Major General Lere also made more inappropriate public comments regarding the entry into East Timor of a former East Timorese name Hercules. Hercules has been described as "the king of the gangsters" who was involved in protection rackets, extortion, gambling and prostitution in Jakarta in the 1990's. He had close links with Soeharto-era generals - including an officer charged by the United Nations with orchestrating the destruction of East Timor after the 1999 independence ballot as he and his gang served as enforcers for the Soeharto regime, intimidating political dissidents and East Timorese independence activists.*

Hercules was also implicated in the attempted assassination of the then President Jose Ramos Horta and the attack on Prime Minister Gusmao in 2008. Hercules visited Dili with a high-powered Indonesian business delegation three weeks before the attempted assassination.

Following his recent visit again to Dili this month, Major-General was reported by Timor Post on 8 January 2013 as "strongly lamenting" Hercules' arrival on a flight at Comoro Airport. According to Major General Lere, Hercules was received by police "as if he were a President".

“To me, he (Hercules) has never been anyone of note. He may be as rich as rich can be but when you have never defended our struggle for national independence, then he is just another Timorese.  As for the police receiving him as if he were a President (head of state), that is just too much, and diminishes the dignity of Timor-Leste as nation,” Lere is reported to have said.

Further, according to the Timor Post report,there has been information circulating that this former autonomist supporter, who is now an Indonesian citizen, entered Timor-Leste carrying a firearm but was allowed to do so by the police despite them having known of this fact.

In this regard, Major General Lere is reported to have "promised that the next time he (Hercules) comes through, he will order that he be apprehended, and he (Lere) will assume all responsibility for having done so afterwards.

Of course, this would also be an entirely inappropriate and unconstitutional intervention by the chief of the defence forces because the military has no lawful role in enforcing the civil law.

*Source: Suharto's Infamous Gangster Hercules 'Link' to E. Timor Attacks The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia) Sunday, March 16, 2008 Soeharto's Man Suspected By Lindsay Murdoch and Tom Hyland. Image: Timor Hau Nian Doben blog.

Source: Timor Post 08/01/2012, 26/11/2012, 03/01/2013, The Sun Herald 16/03/2008 and East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin.. Edited by Warren L. Wright

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