Summary of Press Conference
7 of March 2001, Headquarters of CNRT/CN.
Present: President Xanana Gusmao
Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak
Vice-President Mario Carrascalao
Commissioner Costa e Sousa
The press conference was opened with a report by Commissioner Costa e Souza of CivPol relating the day's events that occurred during a debate organised by the East Timorese Student Solidarity Council in the Gymnasium in Dili. The subject of this symposium was the implications to Timorese society of the change of Falintil to the East Timor Defence Force.
Yesterday evening CivPol received information about a possible planned disturbance of the ETSSC Symposium, by five groups of twenty people lead by three individuals, who had the objective of threatening the life of President Xanana Gusmão.
CivPol undertook measures that they considered adequate to the guarantee order of the meeting and the safety of President Xanana and all those attending. Such measures included the deployment of a CivPol contingent to the Symposium before it commenced. This contingent was under the direct command of Commissioner Costa e Souza who was also present. The police were in place well before the debate commenced and searched all attendees before they entered the auditorium.
According to Commissioner Costa e Souza during the presentations made by President Xanana Gusmão and Roque Rodrigues, CivPol identified the individuals who had been named in the information received as the organisers of this disturbance. The three individuals were identified, the leader was recognised sitting in front of speaker's platform, facing President Xanana Gusmão, the second one was located close to the main entrance and the third one was identified moving around the room. Two of these individuals had outstanding arrest warrants that had been issued on 1 February 2001 for their alleged involvement in the burning of two UN vehicles in Delta Comoro. Commissioner Costa e Souza had ordered the CivPol present to arrest these two individuals as soon as President Xanana exited the auditorium.
CivPol concluded that the positions of the three individuals indicated that they planned to block President Xanana Gusmao from leaving the building. Therefore CivPol began to prepare an alternative exit for the President.
The disturbance was initiated, after the presentations were concluded and the questions and answer period was opened, with the approach made by one of the three individuals to Commissioner Costa e Souza stating that he would be unable to control impending situation because the number of people under his control both within and outside the Gymnasium was greater than CivPol would be able to deal with. Commissioner Costa e Souza asked for an explanation but the individual was already moving toward the opposite side of the Gymnasium where he approached a second CivPol Officer and made a similar statement. This officer also asked for an explanation but the individual proceeded towards the speaker's platform. The Officer requested that this individual desist from approaching the platform. At this point the Officer identified this man as one of those to be arrested and informed him he was under arrest. The suspect ignored both statements and the CivPol officer physically restrained him. The individual was detained firstly because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest, secondly as he had ignored a formal request by a police officer and thirdly because he was moving towards the speaker's platform with an unknown intention.
While this suspect, Gil Fernandes, was being arrested a second individual, Americo, attacked the arresting CivPol Officer with two chairs. An arrest warrant was also found to be outstanding for Americo
In light of these events Commissioner Costa e Souza stated that there was no other option but to arrest Americo using necessary force which entailed use of a baton. He was arrested because firstly he ignored an order by a police officer, secondly as he went on to attack an Officer and thirdly because it was found that he had an outstanding arrest warrant.
Simultaneously CivPol also arrested the third individual located near the main entrance.
The three prisoners were taken to Dili police station where they are awaiting trial.
Subsequent to these events the remaining members of the group causing the disturbance initiated verbal attacks against CivPol. They departed the auditorium and proceeded to the rear of the UNTAET headquarters where they held a demonstration comprising 100 people that had dwindled to 30 individuals after approximately two hours.
Commissioner Costa e Souza ended his report by stating that he has no doubt that this was a planned action designed to disturb the meeting between President Xanana Gusmão and the students and that given the level of violence it was also designed to threaten the life of the President.
President Xanana Gusmão began his statement by saying that the symposium had a very positive aim intending to clarify issues that Timorese society wishes to explore. The President expressed his appreciation to the organisers for the high quality of presentations and indicated that this symposium would become a landmark in the participation of civil society in the political process.
President Xanana Gusmão regretted that the activities of groups identifying themselves as of a political nature who made use of public meetings to destabilise the overall environment. He highlighted the fact that CNRT/CN received a lot of information concerning the activities of such groups and that this information is received directly from the general population. As CNRT/CN has no authority to act upon such information it limits itself simply to analysing it. The Committee to Oversee the Political Process takes this kind of information into consideration as its role is to continuously assess the political situation and what impact it will have on society.
Information already received indicated that during the incident in April 2000 in Dili stadium it was Americo who had thrown a hand-grenade. The general populace have been concerned that CivPol had not arrested these people earlier as some eyewitnesses had made statements to CivPol about the organisation and carrying out of the burning of the two UNTAET vehicles in January 2001.
President Xanana Gusmão then displayed a photograph of Americo, taken on the 16 January 1994 depicting him in the company of two members of Kopassus, when they held a meeting establishing the 'Ninjas' in Timor. The President noted that currently Americo, a founder of the 'Ninjas' and a defender of integration with Indonesia identifies himself as a member of CPD-RDTL and defender of the declaration of independence in 1975. Another of today's identified agitators is a well-known former member of Indonesian Intel.
Combined with information already noted was also the discovery, during searches of the attendees of the Symposium of a number of empty bottles suspected of being used as projectiles during the symposium.
President Xanana Gusmão considered all this information important in the understanding of ongoing actions designed to politically destabilise the situation in East Timor. He also added that in a meeting he had held yesterday with the Youth that they had expressed to him the information that it is not organised Youth groups who undertake any such destabilising actions. They stated that it is the enemy who is making use of the depressed social and economic climate in East Timor.
The President reiterated that information about such actions has simply been passed to him by the people because they look at him as their 'Elder Brother'. A recording had been passed to him of a conversation mentioning the assassination of the President and Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak through the use of grenades. This was played to those assembled at the Press Conference. Some members of the general populace also informed the President about a meeting held yesterday to organise the assassination of the President and the establishment of four groups to disturb today's symposium. This information also noted that these groups would be lead by: Americo, Gil Femandes e Julio Gueguer.
The President went on to recall the events of last Saturday during the Sports Confederation meeting (originally the date set for today's symposium) and the role played by Gil Fernandes in inciting the crowd. The President noted that one of the Youth who engaged him in debate outside the meeting was glassy eyed and had the appearance of having taken an intoxicating substance.
He noted that such groups state that threats against his life are made because he has being trying to clarify the role played by RDTL and those against Brigadier-General Ruak are made because he has allowed Falintil to be changed to the Defence Force. Vice-President Jose Ramos-Horta is also on the list of Timorese leaders to be threatened.
The President finished the press conference with an alert to the youth to not allow themselves to be manipulated and be aware of what kind of groups they get involved with. He also alerted them to the way they could be used by these groups with the sole aim of destabilising the political process namely by creating an anti-foreigner feeling which is illustrated in provocations made against CivPol and GNR.
Check against originals at http://thediliinsider.blogspot.com/2009/03/oho.html