31 August 2009

East Timor releases suspected Indonesian militia - UN

Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:26pm IST By Sunanda Creagh - DILI (Reuters) - An Indonesian man who was allegedly involved in crimes against humanity in East Timor when the country voted for independence has been released from a Dili prison, a United Nations spokesman said on Monday.

East Timor's government under President Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has attracted strong criticism from rights groups over its policy of pardoning convicted ex-militia and pursuing a conciliatory approach with Indonesia, its sprawling neighbour and former ruler.

Louis Gentile, the East Timor representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the release of Martenus Bere, who was wanted for militia attacks on pro-independence civilians, sent the wrong signals.

"His release is contrary to the Security Council resolutions which set up the U.N. mission in Timor Leste (East Timor) and completely undermines the principle of accountability for crimes against humanity globally," Gentile told Reuters.

"This has global significance."

A former Portuguese colony, East Timor was invaded in 1975 by Indonesia. An estimated 180,000 died during the occupation, and the U.N. estimates about 1,000 East Timorese died in the mayhem that surrounded the 1999 vote for independence.

According to a document archived on the website of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Bere was a member of a militia that attacked and killed pro-independence civilians, including priests, in September 1999, in what became known as the Suai massacre.

"He was believed to have been involved in directing the attack. He was not one of the junior ones, so that's why this is so serious," Gentile told Reuters.


Bere was recently arrested near the Indonesian border on an outstanding warrant for crimes against humanity, but was released from Dili's Becora prison on Sunday on instructions from Gusmao, Gentile told Reuters.

A spokesman for the East Timor government was unable to confirm immediately whether Bere had been released.

Indonesian news website Kapanlagi.com quoted West Nusa Tenggara governor Frans Lebu Raya saying that Bere had been released and was currently at the Indonesian embassy in Dili. The Indonesian embassy in Dili did not return calls from Reuters.

Damien Kingsbury, an expert on East Timor and Indonesian politics at Australia's Deakin University, said Indonesia had been pushing for Bere's release.

"This will ease tensions with Indonesia but increase domestic anger over impunity," Kingsbury told Reuters.

East Timor has pursued much closer diplomatic and economic ties with Indonesia, its more prosperous neighbour. "No one denies that warm relations between Indonesia and East Timor is a good thing. But nevertheless, the issue of justice for crimes against humanity needs to be separated from the need for good relations. It is a complete distortion of priorities," said Gentile.

Bere's release coincided with the 10th anniversary celebration of East Timor's vote for independence, as President Ramos-Horta awarded prizes to scores of activists for campaigning against human rights abuses.

On Friday, the president mounted a spirited defence of his decision to oppose a UN Crimes Tribunal in East Timor.

"I know what suffering is," said Ramos-Horta, who lost four siblings in the conflict.

"But I repudiate the notion that we do not care about justice. Indonesian democracy has progressed. Indonesians are the ones who will bring justice to Indonesia, in their own time."

East Timor Student Front press statement on arrests

Statement from Student Press conference:

Press Conference

National University of Timor-Leste, Kaikoli, Dili
31 August 2009

The Timor-Leste Student Front condemns the attitude of the members of the National Police in relation to the arrest of the students when they would like to demonstrate their solidarity to the people in other countries that are still struggling for independence, on August 30th 2009. Therefore the Students' Front condemns this attitude which is not a example of professionalism of the National Police. Our position is as follows:

1. The Students' Front of Timor-Leste disagrees and laments the attitude of the PNTL officers, who aggressively arrested three students in front of the Hotel Timor.

2. We urge the government to improve the professionalism of the PNTL so that they can serve the rule of law with professionalism in the future.

3. We call to the state institutions of Timor-Leste to maintain and secure the RDTL constitution, especially article 10 that states that the Republic Democratic of TL is also in solidarity with other people who are struggling to liberate their country.

4. We condemn the attitude of the PNTL which showed disrespect to the "Freedom of Expression" that is guaranteed in the Constitution of RDTL.

5. We urge the PNTL to cancel the decision to extend the detention into 72 hours, because according to the law it needs strong evidence of crime to do so. They might extend it to 72 hours, but the students did not commit a crime.

6. We urge the Police to release the three students within the time limit starting from 9 am until before 3 pm. If the they haven't been released within the time limit, we will organize the Youth Front, the Street Vendors and the people of Maubere to organize a demonstration in front of the National Police.

The Rice Contract Case Far From Finished

TEMPO SEMANAL on 8/29/2009 12:07:00 AM Internet Exclusive to celebrate 10th Anniversary of Timor Referendum - The Rice Contract Case Far From Finished - East Timor will soon mark the 10th anniversary of UN 1999 Referendum of rejection of autonomy with Indonesia's abusive occupation, which started with an invasion in 1975. In an exclusive interview with Tempo Semanal the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Dr. Jose Ramos Horta said that Timor-Leste's economy is growing, the level of violence is very low, no political violence of any kinds, and people show more tolerance so he think on August 30th Timorese celebrate its 10th anniversary with happiness because the 2006 violence has gone, people has reconcile and wounds are healing. But Mr. Horta asked the donor countries not to blame him because he has not seen a penny from this 3 billion US Dollar spent on Timor-Leste, and demands that donor countries review itheir policies on how they spend their money. Spend to be spent on Timor, should be spent in Timor. President Horta warns Timorese leaders that there a lot to do in the years ahead to further consolidate the peace in East Timor, improve governance, fight and prevent corruption.

"There is a lot of allegation about corruption. Many of it I think is well founded. There is a real problem of corruption. We can not deny this. Because corruption means we are diverting money away from the people for the benefit of few individual. I heard story after story of corruption. And there is evidence about it. So I determined together with the Prime Minister to stamp out corruption in this country. People didn't fight and died for us later to have a corrupt government and a corrupt system."

on 2 June 2009 President DR. Jose Ramos Horta has sent a letter to East Timor ombudsman requesting an investigation into the allegations of Government rice contract to 17 companies allegedly related to some leading government officials.

In his letter he stated that he has received various complaints in regards to the rice imports, distribution and resale. "Transmit to your excellence of my preoccupation in regard to this issue," Horta wrote on his request letter dated 02/07/2009.

He stated that to import rice is a central instrument of the state's politics so the government spent tens millions of dollars to import rice. "But general opinion is that the supply rice contract is closed (not public Tender) without thorough adequate process and involves collusion and cases of corruptions.

In an Interview with Tempo Semanal last week Ramos Horta has not received yet any response from Ombudsman office. "I have not received any feed back from ombudsmen in regard to my request. I understand this process can take long time. Investigation are investigation if it serious. It can take days, weeks even months," Horta explain.

Even the process of investigation into the case takes almost two months now, "but I a wait of the work of the ombudsman. If it turn out there is enough evidence of criminal evidence for the case to be brought before the court that would be a decision made by the Prosecutor General."

The Ombudsmen has confirmed to the journalist on 20/08/09 that he has received the President request to investigate the millions government rice contract issue. Mr. Sebastiâo Dias Ximenes the head of ombudsmen after the 34th anniversary ceremony of East Timor Defence force in front of the Government Building has confirmed the authenticity of President Request to his office to investigate the rice contract allegations.

"Yeah I did. I did receive it. And right now we established our team for conduct investigation for the case," said Mr. Ximenes.

He explains that he has received a letter from the East Timor President on 2nd June 2009 but he reject to go into detail because of the secrecy of ombudsman office. "Yeah I did. I received a letter from President."

When asked about the President order he said, "Yeah. Yeah the letter requested Proverdor to start the investigation regarding for rice contract and as I mention that we already start or investigation Process.

The Provedor office promised to talk to investigate every party involved in the project. "We are trying to investigate all companies involved in this contract."

According to the letter from minister for tourism, commerce and Industry to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao number 393/GAB/2008 dated 02 October 2008 Minister Tourism, Commerce and Industry point third stated, "Priorities Timorese businessman and the list of justification."

The letter also informed the East Timor Prime Minister that list of companies has been
approved. "A list that presented by MTCI been approved, which include 16 companies."

The 16 national companies imported rice in same amount 7,250 tones for each and totally 116,000 tones of rice and each importers government awarded rice contracts with total sum US$ 3,5 million. In June 2008 business registration in Ministry Tourism, Commerce and Zenilda E. B. Gusmao, the daughter of East Timor PM has 11.10% share holder in Prima Food Lda. But
recently this paper found another document shows that the daughter of PM has sold her share in Prima Food Company before the contract signed. One of the Fretilin MP told this paper he question the authenticity of this document but the former Head of Commerce Department in the MTCI MR. E. Faculto confirmed the document is true. Fretilin deputy President Arsenio Bano in mid July accused the share holders in these companies most of them related to the government ministers including PM's daughter and he demanded Xanana's resignation.

In a press release on June 26, 2009 which received by Tempo Semanal (27/07), the spokesperson of the IV constitutional Government and the secretary of state for the council of Ministers, Agio Pereira reacted to a story run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) titled 'Gusmão faces corruption claims.' The ABC revealed several companies related to the government relatives been awarded rice contracts last year. The story was circulated in print, television and radio, aired in Australia and throughout approximately 46 countries throughout their Asian Pacific network. "While we welcome the interest of the ABC in reporting on Timor-Leste, we would ask for better due diligence in ensuring the facts are correct before misinformation is widely disseminated," said Agio Pereira.

He continues, "There are several inaccuracies in the reporting, especially when referencing the laws of the Constitution which seem to be the basis for the corruption allegations."

In the same press release Mr Pereira stated that, "during a time of the global food crisis, the IV Constitutional Government went to extensive lengths to ensure food security. Sixteen Timorese companies were fairly awarded contracts to import rice. The guidelines under the procurement laws were followed and contracts executed only after a lengthy interdepartmental evaluation committee assessed bids and negotiated terms. This was a joint effort across many ministries."

The Government Spokesperson claim that, "The corruption allegations are part of a continued campaign by the Fretilin Opposition to discredit the Xanana Gusmão Government, with the latest and boldest accusations appearing just one working day before Gusmão's Anti Corruption Commission is due to be approved by the plenary of the National Parliament."

On Early July this year, Aniceto Guterres the head of Fretilin bench read the Fretilin statement said, "Prima food company been awarded a government rice contract with its total value of US$ 3.5 million, and the PM's daughter Zenilda Gusmao is involved in this company with total share of 11.10% as it is showing on 2008 Timor Leste business registration lists."

Mr. Gutteres accused East Timor Hero and Prime Minister is violating the procurement laws. "Xanana Gusmao has violated the procurement law and for many occasion in regard to the government rice contract. The finance Minister also did the same and the protecting each other and trying to hid things from us. They never want to come here to answer the demands from parliamentarians related to the rice contract," he said.

Maria Paisao second deputy speaker from PSD(Social Democratic Party) party defending Xanana's daughter. "Before signed the contract with Prima Food Zenilda has resigned from this woman associations. She left two months before the prima food contract in place," Maria Paisao replies.

She continued defend the Minister for Development and Economy wife and said, "We don't want the opposition just come here to produce the allegations in public without any proof. If she (Katheelin) violated any rule or any law let's set up a parliamentarian inquiry. You should demand a parliamentarian inquiry which now we have a way to do so and parliament also can set up an inquiry to find out whether Miss Kathelin got it because her husband as minister of Economy gave her this contract?

In Mid July Mr. Gusmao responded to the Allegation. "They (The Business people) requested to my daughter to put US$ 10,000.00 in the banks. In her company for each shareholder has to invest US$10,000.00. For each of them have to submitted US$10,000.00. I just want to ask them to understand a little bit more that If my daughter using her social statues as in the bracket, coming to lobby me on behalf other companies to supply (rice) then she get some percentage this means I do committed the fault. This is different case and for this action I will raise my hands up (surrender). But she enters in a company and they told her to invest US$10,000.00 and she did put in US$10,000.00. If it was happened as she go n over, "I lobby in favour of your winning, I lobby for you to get the contract then give me some percentage. Yes, this is a different case," Said Xanana in a press conference in Dili Airport. He continues explain the process of the rice contract. "The Government want all business people to participate and I don't want to use a single own shareholder Company. If you all (Bus iness people) agreed that means for each company minimum a joint venture by five people. All business gathers your self then we will decide. Now we have the economy stabilisation funds for those who can imported first (rice) with how many (tons) and take how many months, who bringing in as it is and (Rice Quantity) arrived in what months? And who else can import these amount (rice) take till what months? There were 17 companies not only the once belongs to my daughter. From the 17 companies, each company involved many many people," Explain Xanana.

30 August 2009

Negative Impact of Draft Land Law on Customary Land Tenure Systems in East Timor

Communal Land Tenure Systems in East Timor to Have No Legal Status Under New Draft Land Law

Informal remarks to the Press of the President of the Security Council on Timor-Leste

President of the Security Council made the following informal remarks to the Press on Timor-Leste:

1. 30 August this year marks the 10 th anniversary of the Popular Consultation, the first opportunity for the people of Timor-Leste to express their will regarding their future. On this occasion the members of the Security Council commend the efforts that the people and the government of Timor-Leste have made for peace, stability and the development of the country.

2. The members of the Security Council appreciate the role that the United Nations missions have played in the country since then, as well as the work carried out by the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and their teams. The members of the Security Council also appreciate the assistance that has been given by the international community including the international security forces.

3. The members of the Security Council, on this occasion, reaffirm their support for the efforts of the people and the Government of Timor-Leste and the work of UNMIT in fulfilling its mandate.

Remembering the 1999 East Timor Martyrs of Democracy

ETLJB 30 August 2009 SYDNEY - 10 years ago on this day the people of East Timor faced a turning point in their history - the 30 August "jajak pendapat" (referendum) which ended a 24-year-long genocide and ushered in the era of Timorese independence.

The horrifying backlash from the Indonesian military and its Timorese militia proxies left 1500 dead, hundreds of thousands forcibly relocated and the entire nation destroyed - the sacrifices made for freedom and liberty - was the culmination of the long years of struggle for self determination in which hundreds of thousands of East Timorese were killed or died.

The preamble to the Constitution expresses the sentiments of this time and dedicates the Constitution to the martyrs of the liberation of the homeland from foreign domination.

Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor


Following the liberation of the Timorese People from colonisation and illegal occupation of the Maubere Motherland by foreign powers, the independence of East Timor, proclaimed on the 28th of November 1975 by Frente Revolucionaria do Timor-Leste Independente (FRETILIN), is recognised internationally on the 20th of May 2002.

The preparation and adoption of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor is the culmination of the secular resistance of the Timorese People intensified following the invasion of the 7th of December 1975.

The struggle waged against the enemy, initially under the leadership of FRETILIN, gave way to more comprehensive forms of political participation, particularly in the wake of the establishment of the National Council of the Maubere Resistance (CNRT) in 1987 and the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) in 1998.

The Resistance was divided into three fronts.

The armed front was carried out by the glorious Forcas Armadas de Libertacao Nacional de Timor-Leste (FALINTIL) whose historical undertaking is to be praised.

The action of the clandestine front, astutely unleashed in hostile territory, involved the sacrifice of thousands of lives of women and men, especially the youth, who fought with abnegation for freedom and independence.

The diplomatic front, harmoniously carried out all over the world, enabled the paving of the way for definitive liberation.

In its cultural and humane perspective, the Catholic Church in East Timor has always been able to take on the suffering of all the People with dignity, placing itself on their side in the defence of their most fundamental rights.

Ultimately, the present Constitution represents a heart-felt tribute to all martyrs of the Motherland.

Thus, the Members of the Constituent Assembly, in their capacity as legitimate representatives of the People elected on the 30th of August 2001,

Based further on the results of the referendum of the 30th of August 1999 organised under the auspices of the United Nations which confirmed the self-determined will for independence;

Fully conscious of the need to build a democratic and institutional culture proper of a State based on the rule of law where respect for the Constitution, for the laws and for democratically elected institutions constitute its unquestionable foundation;

Interpreting the profound sentiments, the aspirations and the faith in God of the People of East Timor;

Solemnly reaffirm their determination to fight all forms of tyranny, oppression, social, cultural or religious domination and segregation, to defend national independence, to respect and guarantee human rights and the fundamental rights of the citizen, to ensure the principle of the separation of powers in the organisation of the State, and to establish the essential rules of multi-party democracy, with a view to building a just and prosperous nation and developing a society of solidarity and fraternity.

The Constituent Assembly, meeting in plenary session on the 22nd of March 2002, approves and decrees the following Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor

Rift looms as Dili mourns dead

August 30, 2009 The Age Rift looms as Dili mourns dead Lindsay Murdoch, Dili - EAST Timor is under pressure to release an Indonesian citizen accused of leading one of the country's worst massacres, as hundreds of East Timorese attended a ceremony yesterday remembering those who died in the fight for independence.

The arrest of former militia leader Martenus Bere, an Indonesian provincial government official, has created a diplomatic headache for East Timor ahead of events today marking the 10th anniversary of the country's vote for independence.

Indonesian authorities are demanding the release of Bere, who allegedly led an attack on a church in the town of Suai in September 1999, in which three priests and dozens of people were killed.

Bere, a former commander of Laksuar, one of the most violent of militia groups behind a pro-Indonesian reign of terror in 1999, was arrested after he crossed into East Timor two weeks ago to attend a funeral ceremony for his father and pray at the same church where the killings took place.

Locals reportedly beat him severely before police intervened to save him.

Bere, who was indicted by a UN Serious Crimes Unit in 2003, would be the first Indonesian citizen to face a court in East Timor over the 1999 bloodshed that left 1500 people dead before and after the territory voted for independence. The case has the potential to cause a diplomatic rift between East Timor and its giant neighbour.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda is scheduled to attend anniversary ceremonies in Dili today.

Officials in West Timor cancelled a planned ministerial-level delegation from East Timor last week to protest against the arrest of Bere, who has been brought to a jail in Dili.

Jose Teixeira, spokesman for the Fretilin opposition party, said the government must not be influenced in by diplomatic pressure from Indonesia. "If Bere is allowed to return to Indonesia without facing trial, this would sound a death knell for justice in this country," he said.

The remains of 24 of those who died fighting for independence were buried at a ''heroes' cemetery'' at Metinaro near Dili yesterday. Family members wailed and hugged photographs of loved ones as the remains joined the graves of more than 400 other victims. Many of the bereaved said they wanted compensation from the Government and the perpetrators brought to justice.

Aquelinho Soares, whose uncle was killed fighting Indonesian soldiers in the 1980s, said most East Timorese believed "the actors behind these crimes must be held accountable".

President Jose Ramos-Horta told the gathering the Government would not give up the search for the remains of other victims.

More than 100,000 Timorese were killed or disappeared between 1974 and 1999.

But Mr Ramos-Horta made no mention of justice for the crimes.

Earlier, he dismissed calls for East Timor to support an international tribunal to put the accused on trial.

"If you went around with me, random around the country as I've done … meeting barefoot people all over the country - thousands of them, not one - not one raised the issues of 1999, not one talked about putting Indonesia on trial," he said.

Mr Ramos-Horta said the Indonesians would, in their own time, put those responsible for crimes in East Timor and elsewhere on trial. He said only a small number of human rights activists were calling for an international trial.

"And unlike many of them - these so-called international human rights groups and Timorese activists - I lost almost half of my brothers and sisters, and even myself was almost killed," he said.

"So I know what being a victim is. I know what is the pain of a mother who lost her children."

Governor-General Quentin Bryce will represent Australia at today's ceremonies in Dili, where Mr Ramos-Horta will present a medal to retired major-general Peter Cosgrove, who led Australian forces into East Timor in 1999 to quell violence.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/world/rift-looms-as-dili-mourns-dead-20090829-f3bg.html

History Repeats Itself: East Timorese Contemporary Politics

By Cesar Dias Quintas (Lere-Malae) The First Fulbright Scholar from East Timor 2007-2009, studying at Ohio University with a Major in Southeast Asian Studies and a Minor in Political Science.

I am writing from the perspective of an East Timorese to reflect the historical process by analyzing political development during the ten years of independence of Timor-Leste. By the end of August 2009, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste will take a moment to reflect on the historical process by visualizing the future of the country. I assume that some of my fellow countryman will criticize the content of this article but as an East Timorese, I believe that critical thinking and argument will develop and strengthen our civil society towards a democratic one. Some may consider the terminology of the democratic society old-fashioned but I would say that with the long history of civil conflict and colonial occupation, democracy may be the only concept that could carry East Timorese towards peace and prosperity.

As a country born in the era of globalization, Timor-Leste cannot to use historical errors to judge the process of its national development; in contrast, national development itself cannot be viewed only from the historical perspectives, either because of strong historical preferences, the current political environment is dominated by a romanticism of independence, which might lead people into a crisis of nationalism in the sense of losing state-ownership. This means that people might view independence merely as the era of claiming the rights which they had lost during 24 years of colonial occupation and expect independence to compensate their meritorious struggle. Apart from the crisis of nationalism, the lack of political will and commitment by the national leadership becomes another factor creating apathy in the East Timorese about the future of their country. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon the East Timorese to view their history and their independence in the context of a sovereign state by involving all national entities in the development process without a preferential treatment within contemporary East Timorese politics.

The shadows of the historical phenomenon remain in the contemporary politics of Timor-Leste. The majority of the national leaders and political parties along with the general population still embrace the historical resistance background. Moreover, the current political constellation of Timor-Leste is still dominated by the 1975 generation who had played major roles during the struggle for independence. Their presence contemporary politics indeed remains a crucial factor; the current political situation would be especially unavoidable. National and international political spotlights focus on these veteran resistance leaders. Nonetheless, among these political leaders there are huge political differences which frequently create a sharp political tension in the country. Some politicians tend to look to an East Timorese future beyond their historical experience; on the other hand, others attempt to use the historical resistance as basis of political ideologies to maintain their political existence.

If the East Timorese could reflect their history precisely, they would realize that history has repeated itself with a different timeframe and roughly with the same political actors. These circumstances can be seen in the unsuccessful Portuguese decolonization process in 1975 and the popular consultation under UN-auspices in 1999 along with the two years of UN transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET). Within the era of independence, the political leaders of this new independent country in Asia seem unable to abandon a bitter historical heritage. However, just take a moment to reflect on the historical process to identify these same political errors from the decolonization process in 1975, and public consultation in 1999, leading up to political conflict in 2006.

The First Opportunity was Wasted

During the decolonization process in 1975, the Portuguese government through the Armed Forces Movement (Movimento Forcas Armadas or AFM) did not prepare East Timorese political leaders for transition to successful self-determination. The Portuguese were not strong by motivated to conduct a peaceful political transition. This could be seen in the decolonization process in which the Portuguese government did not involve the United Nations and internationalize the issues of East Timor. According to Jose Ramos Horta, “The problem with the Portuguese position was that it never considered internationalizing the problem, even when it was clear at the London meeting that Indonesia would stop at nothing to bring about the integration of East Timor.” Conversely, the Indonesian military regime used this opportunity to play its political card by inserting political tension into the bloody civil war. This became a political argument to justify and accelerate the Indonesian invasion after Fretilin unilaterally declared its independence on November 28, 1975.

The Indonesian military regime under President Suharto had already planned its illegal annexation before the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. Indonesian territorial ambition became one of the main causes shaping a conflict among East Timorese political parties. It would be argued that since the Indonesian military had successfully taken over West Papua and had an unsuccessful confrontation with Malaysia in the 1960s, the military regime might assume that Timor-Portuguese could just be absorbed into the Indonesian territorial archipelago. From this perspective, high Indonesian military officials convinced President Suharto to insert systematic military involvement into the process of decolonization. Consequently, Indonesian military intelligence successfully convinced all the political parties, except Fretilin of the value of the integration concept. This political maneuver allowed the Indonesian illegal invasion, supported by the United States and its allies. This caused about 200,000 deaths due to military brutality, starvation and disease and the killing of five Australian journalists by Indonesian soldiers.

The East Timorese political parties became a potential issue for the Indonesian military of interfering in the decolonization process of justifying the annexation. Conversely, East Timorese political elites did not exactly perceive the objectives of their political parties as parallel with the common interest of liberation from colonialism. Their political ideologies drove them into political disintegration and ignored the people’s spirit of realizing an independent sovereign state. The leaders were alienated in the dichotomy of the political parties (independence and integration) without considering that the principle of independence was to be an independent state. They seemed politically might unaware that the Portuguese and Indonesians had their own political agenda concerning decolonization. If the Portuguese had the political will to decolonize East Timor, independence should have become the first option, followed by the formation of political parties rather than alienating the East Timorese into political fragments with an uncertain political future.

However, the Indonesian territorial ambition and inability of the Portuguese government to oversee decolonization are not the major focus of this article. The civil war in 1975 was a process which East Timorese politicians should internalize because there was also an inability of East Timorese political leaders to use the political opportunity offered by the Portuguese government. This was in the same timeframe as the political reformation in Indonesia and its economic deterioration. The Indonesian political reformation along with the economic crisis in 1998, which hit most Asian countries, was very similar to the Carnation Revolution in Portugal and the international oil crisis which affected most European countries, including Portugal, at the time. This was the same political climate that East Timor faced and which finally brought about independence in 1999. The failure of the East Timorese to gain their independence in 1975 was due, on one hand, because East Timorese politicians at the time did not critically respond to the concept of decolonization itself. If their principle was to liberate East Timorese from colonialism and foreign occupation, they should have rejected all political affiliation with Portugal or Indonesia. On the other hand, they were politically naive when the Portuguese government offered the decolonization concept. Therefore, they should have negotiated with the Portuguese government over a possible offer of independence transition, instead getting mired in unclear decolonization concepts of ambitious political parties. This was the same present when Indonesian President B. J. Habibi initially offered the concept of autonomy during the political reformation in which Jakarta finally came up with two the options of autonomy and independence after the East Timorese rejected the first offering.

The ambition to stabilize political parties became the dominant sentiment among Timorese political leaders without consideration of the common interest of gaining independence. They may have thought that the only route to claim independence was by political parties competing with one another to obtain power. They were carried away by ideas of decolonization without analyzing their limited human resources in dealing with the political option. The majority of young independence activists had never experienced a significant role within a political party. They had never been directly involved in political organization movements against the Portuguese government. East Timorese political elites might not have realized that they actually had been toppled into the Portuguese political decolonization. It could be argued that if they had rejected the concept of decolonization, the Portuguese government might have offered another option for the future of the country as Indonesian government did in 1999.

East Timor was intended to gain its independence along with several African countries at the end of Portuguese decolonization. East Timorese politicians did not use this political opportunity intelligently by not prioritizing political commitment to attain independence. Most parties did not reflect the national interest as a fundamental principle to proclaim an independent state which the Portuguese had offered as a final option for self-determination. Perhaps they did not have comprehensive political knowledge of global politics, especially the political blocs within the Southeast Asian region. They might have assumed that the end of Portuguese colonization was a politically uncomplicated way to gain independence without being concerned with regional blocks, especially the U.S. role in Southeast Asia. From the geographical standpoint, East Timor might have had a successful transition to an independent state if it had been supported by neighboring countries in the region. Compared to African countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Sao Tome Principle and Guinea Bissau, East Timor was very different in terms of political resistance as well as geographical location.

Timorese political elites might have considered the decolonization process as a sort of competition for political ideology to achieve party objectives. It seemed that political ideology undermined national unity seeking an independence state because the principle of nationalism had been fragmented into different political ideologies. It argues that the issue of nationalism during decolonization became an important element to engage young Timorese politicians in the process of self-determination. Indeed, the political option of self-determination offered by the Portuguese government was not a principle goal for the majority of East Timorese. The Portuguese government offered three options: Federation under Portuguese power, independence or integration with Indonesia. According to Dunn, “Although Portuguese policy on the future of the Timor colony was relatively unformed at the time, it was the Portuguese who spelt out the three options for the future in June 1974 – a continued association with metropolitan power, independence, or integration with Indonesia….” East Timorese independence activists were unable to calmly discuss the options offered by the Portuguese government. It seemed that decolonization with the good of self-determination had turned to political fraction-determined “group interest” with no concern for political consensus on independence from the colonial system. The Portuguese had failed to unite the political fractions by offering the three options without providing a proper condition of transition toward self-determination. Instead of offering self-determination, Portuguese should have given independence as it did in colonies in Africa.

Most political elites assumed that East Timor would get its independence like other Portuguese colonies through peaceful negotiation with the Portuguese government. Nonetheless, Timorese political elites did not exploit the political option by shelving political differences to form a consensus for a peaceful transition. Jose Ramos Horta, an independence activist and Journalist states, “Unity of all nationalist forces was vital for our success.” Unfortunately, there was no national resistance movement to unify the political differences and lead them to independence. Furthermore, young Timorese politicians did not have enough knowledge and experience concerning the role of political parties in the context of a decolonization process. Although there was a coalition between Fretilin, Frente Revolucionária de Timor-Leste Independente and UDT, Associação Social-Democrata Timorense concerning the principle of an independent state, the leaders of these parties could not able to establish a political commitment because they had been alienated by sharp political ideologies.

Political leaders seemed to be focused on how to get support from the people and completely overlooked the right of the people to self-determination. It was rather difficult for politicians with different political principles to view the independent nation merely within the context of a political party. They should have had a notion of national unity to articulate the political concept of a sovereign state by avoiding ideological conflicts which directed them into a civil war. This was one factor preventing Timorese politician from getting political consensus for the independence. Moreover, the Timorese politicians were lack of political confidence to decisively claim independence from the Portuguese government before forming the political parties. Therefore, without political preparation and experience, political ideology became a major obstacle to a successful process of self-determination. The three political options themselves became a way for Indonesia to play its interest and occupy East Timor for 24 years.

The Failure of Reconciliation towards Political Consensus

In May, 1999, the UN requested an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal to conduct popular consultation to determine the political future of whether East Timor would become autonomous or independent. Security Council Resolution 1246 (1999) authorized the establishment of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET). On October 30, 1999, UNAMET conducted a referendum in which 78.5% of the East Timorese voted for independence. The Indonesian armed forces supported by local militias launched massive violations of human rights, killings, massacres, torture, and rapes. Approximately 2,000 civilians were killed in the nine-month period from January to October of 1999. Furthermore, the violence destroyed almost 75% of the country’s infrastructure and forced more than 250,000 people to flee to West Timor. This violence drew international condemnation of the brutality of the actions. Indonesian military forces which were obsessively responsible for peace and security violated the agreement signed in New York on May 5, 1999 by the UN, Portugal and Indonesia. Because of international pressure concerning the deteriorating situation in East Timor, the Indonesian government finally allowed the International Forces for East Timor (INTERFET) to restore peace and security in the territory.

In general, people used to blame external intervention as the main causes of the conflict in East Timor. Many international scholars and practitioners normally viewed the issue from an external viewpoint without looking at the major issues of how the East Timorese had actually dealt with their own problems. I argue that the East Timorese have probably repeated those same political errors from the beginning of Portuguese decolonization through to the era of independence. People ask what were the main causes of the conflict among East Timorese people? This question would be appropriate if East Timorese from the villages and rural areas addressed it to their political elites. From the perspective of East Timorese contemporary politics, political elites are the most likely become the key elements shaping the political history and having power of determining the destiny of this nation. Therefore, it is not first the UN, Portuguese and Indonesians but the East Timorese themselves who should take a moment to internalize their history and not repeat it again because they are ones who become the victims of political interests.

The East Timorese political elites ignored the important lesson of 1975 when they dealt with the referendum in 1999. In this context, East Timor political elites, whether pro-independence or pro-autonomy, had not yet formed into a consensus of avoiding political violence, meaning that the pro-independence leaders as the initiators of reconciliation were not strong enough to convince the autonomy leaders to public consultation peacefully. The Indonesian military generals who became the architects of the autonomy concept were actually behind the pro-autonomy leaders. Therefore, the first step should see that the East Timorese pro-Indonesian was at least isolated from the Indonesian military influence. This means that the pro-independence leaders should reject agreement with the Indonesian military responsible for security of the referendum. By the presence of the Indonesian military, on one hand, the pro-autonomy leaders were intimidated from using their political freedom. On the other hand, the situation built their confidence because the military directly armed and financed their activities. There should have been pro-autonomy leaders who did not already sympathize with the brutality of the Indonesian military.

However, pro-independence leaders made a significant move in maintaining the values of the reconciliation. It was not simple for them to convince the pro-autonomy leaders because most of them were puppets of the Indonesian military. East Timorese elites had again fallen into the politics of public consultation in which the people of East Timor were alienated into the ideology of independence and autonomy. The two groups had different concepts of interpreting their nationalism to achieve their political objectives. Public consultation itself constituted a format for proving and determining the rights of the East Timorese people. Unfortunately, neither side seriously looked at this process as a way of reconciling ideas to minimize political violence, especially from the pro-autonomy leaders. As result, the East Timorese had to suffer from the political ideologies over a period of nine months. Conversely, the UN mission could not prevent the lack of indiscipline and violence of campaign by the pro-Jakarta militia which lead up to the brutality, intimidation and killings.

History in the Context of Contemporary Politics

After the mission of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) ended in 2000, it created a new chapter for East Timorese political parties. In many ways, the CNRT was politically able to unify all political parties which had been fragmented after1975. There is no denying that Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao (Xanana) played a major role in the history of East Timorese politics during the 24 years of Indonesian occupation. In other words, he made a significant contribution to the process of leading East Timor to the gate of independence. His resignation from Fretilin in 1986 indicated that the East Timorese had come to a conclusion in which political parties could not represent their independence. However, that Xanana was the product of Fretilin and gained most of his political skills from this historical party also could not be denied. To some extents, Fretilin might assume that Xanana had betrayed his political commitment to this party and this sentiment seems to haunt the current political climate.

During the first period of independence, people’s attention turned back to Fretilin as the only party that had struggled for independence. People still did not yet have confidence in the emergence of the new political parties on the old parties from 1975. Some seemed to think that Fretilin was not much different from the CNRT, with a principle of fighting for the independence. In fact, in the first national parliamentary election of 2001 Fretilin gained 69.18 % of the votes, which made this party the first constitutional government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. However, there were still political differences inside the Fretelin, especially between two elites who were considered conservative leaders from Maputo, Mozambique, and others with new ideas of reformation. Fretilin had a similar experience when five students came from Portugal in 1975, bringing radical ideas into the party. Ramos Horta, at the time a party elite in charge of external affairs, stated that “the radical wing of FRETILIN had gained some influence and my own position was becoming more and more difficult.” However, Fretilin was indeed, the largest party supported by the people from the grassroots level from 1975 up till the era of independence. Fretilin was overconfident about the 2001 election results in which it gained 55 of 88 seats Parliament. This was a similar phenomenon of 1975 when Fretilin gained majority support from people across the country. However, this party too self-satisfied by its achievement to cooperate with other parties which led to political catastrophe.

Apart from the internal party issues of Fretilin, the failure of its first constitutional government to maintain law and order forced the CNRT to reemerge with the attributes of a political party in an era of independence. The Fretilin leadership should acknowledge that the civil unrest in April 2006 was their political error of mismanaging government policies. Several examples which came to public attention were the Fretilin government influencing the dismissal of 599 members of FDTL and the Minister of Interior, Regerio Lobato (Rogerio) armed as a civilian to eliminate functional opponents. It could be argued that the party’s influential leaders, Rogue Rorigues and Rogerio, directly deal with the most important state institutions, namely the national police (PNTL) and the army (FDTL). Indeed, these institutions became the main source of the national crisis. On the other hand, President Xanana statement concerning the regional issues (East and West) fueled the crisis into two regional blocks. His political intention was probably an attempt to prevent the political influence of Fretilin over FDTL, but it actually increased antagonism between the two blocks, each of which started inside the FDTL. The veteran resistance leaders seemed not yet to be able to use their experience of building strong commitments to develop their country by compromising with one another. In addition, the reappearance of strong political ideologies was likely undermining nationalism in the context of national development. Most political parties contextualize their visions, based in their political principles, often ignoring the people’s interest.

The Role of Political Leaders

Most political leaders continue to embrace their political ideologies rather than adopt principles of improving the democratic and economic systems. The last ten years of independence have shown that politicians have not seriously moved to develop a country based on a common interest. This can be noticed when the state institutions dealt with the initial crisis in 2006. It could be argued that this mentality is an inheritance from the 1975 political ideologies which were still fresh in the minds of the old political generation (generation 1975). When the crisis erupted in 2006 and led up to assassination attempts against President Jose Ramos Horta in February 2008, the political leaders seemed to not look at their country from the common perspective of building it. The state institutions became a source of political conflict because state leaders were showing any their political maturity in the sense of maintaining national integrity. This can be seen from the 2006 crisis which Xanana could actually have prevented the by using his presidential power and charisma to mediate the problem but it was ignored by the Mari Alkateri government. Xanana, himself, could have been able to prevent the conflict if he had used his constitutional power to maintain the sovereignty of the state institutions. The implication of these political attitudes has influence within the current East Timorese political system.

Political leaders have not exactly seen themselves as representatives of the people when elected to state administrations. The politicians too often act on behalf of their political parties and ignore the interest of the people. This is reflected in the political characters from the era of 1975. Many members of the parliament (MP) sometimes cannot distinguish between being MPs or party members; and, therefore, frequently voiced party interests rather than national interests. Many national political leaders still embraced the attitude of a resistance movement, which is already irrelevant in an era of independence. Furthermore, these party hacks are not seriously engage in the process of debate or approving legislation could have a positive impact on national development. It could be the parliament of a new country will not operate perfectly but each MP should think that his or her performance will have a significant impact on building a foundation for new generations.

In addition to the foregoing, the state leaders are not seriously strengthening democracy to establish a strong judicial system. This has preoccupied many people, especially young East Timorese intellectuals. The current political elites mostly come from a resistance background in which they used political decision to deal with all issues. Suddenly, when it comes to an era of independence, they seem to find difficulty in totally changing their political character to suit a country with the rule of law. Consequently, they often overlook the judicial system by using political decisions in dealing with many legal issues which were supposed to be outside political interferences. For example, Roserio Lobato, former Interior Minister was sentenced to approximately seven years in prison for illegal arms distribution but just a few months later, President Ramos Horta used his constitutional power to give Lobato amnesty. The president’s decision made many people doubt the independence of the judicial system in Timor-Leste. Interestingly, the people to whom Roserio gave arms remain in jail and they were responsible for his illegal weapon distribution by their actions against the national army. This exemplifies how leaders have not encouraged the country incorporate the values of justice into the state institutions, especially the discipline of developing a good governing system based on the rule of law and maintaining the independency of the state organs.

The role of the Catholic Church

During the 24 years of Indonesian military occupation, the Catholic Church in many ways stayed firmly with the people of East Timor to defend their right of self-determination. Whatever the political consequences, the East Timorese Church with its outspoken, leadership has extraordinarily contributed to the liberation of the East Timor people. With the anti-violence movement against the Indonesian regime, the Catholic Church generated a valuable prize of services for the people of East Timor to free their country from foreign aggression. Moreover, the basic principles of peace and justice constituted powerful elements of the Catholic Church to deal with the uncertainty of the political situation. That situation and the crises of human rights became major factors in engaging the Church in the liberation process. Although, the Church should try to stay neutral in any political situation, this actually would not work for the East Timorese Church in such a political environment. Culture differences, injustices and human rights violations were the main causes of Church involvement in the political issues against the Indonesian government.

The 1996 Nobel Peace Prize for Bishop Belo exemplified that this prestigious international award acknowledged the resistance of the East Timorese Church in defending peace and justice. Another Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the East Timorese independence resistance leader, Jose Ramos Horta, indicating that nationalism and Catholicism had interacted closely in promoting a true peace solution in East Timor. Interestingly, the East Timorese only recognized three fronts of resistance movements: a military wing, clandestine operations and a diplomatic front; but I would argue that the Catholic Church actually constituted a fourth front. It would have been an even greater challenge to gain freedom without the Catholic Church’s efforts supporting the right of self-determination for the East Timorese.

The role of the Catholic Church remains crucial in the independence era of East Timor. The main issues for the Church should be poverty, human rights violations, corruption, illiteracy and so forth. However, the Church seems uncertain how precisely to play its role in the process of nation building, especially to bring about social change, instead of engaging solely in issues of spirituality. From the current general perspective, the Church is well-structured throughout the country in comparison to any other organizations. With adequate facilities and as the largest religion in the country, the Catholic Church becomes an important element, notably in the areas of education, morality, and justice and community services development. People might be unsure about the role of the Catholic Church in the current era of national development. During the last five years of the independence, the Church has not criticized the issues of injustice, especially the political failures of national leaders which had victimized many innocent people. The Church has been focused on moral and spiritual issues more than unjust practices by state institution policies. The Church certainly will not interfere in the political area as is clearly stated in the national constitution the separation of religion from political activities.

The UN Missions

Timor-Leste has hosted six United Nation (UN) missions: UNAMET, InterFET, UNTAET, UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), UN Office in East Timor (UNOTIL) and the UN Integrated in East Timor (UNMIT). The UN mission in East Timor did differ very much from previous missions in Cambodia and Kosovo. The only difference was that East Timor was taken by the UN as a territory without administrative power. The UN mission in East Timor was to build a new sovereign state, preparing the East Timorese to have an independent state. However, the transitional administration did not establish strong state institutions such as a judicial system, police institutions or a national army. The UN administration should have had a few more than just two years to fully engage in the peace-building process. Consequently, several national conflicts erupted after the UN’s administrative power ended. The UN did not fully integrate its state building mission into crucial sectors for a sovereign state. Although the UN trained East Timorese through an East Timor Public Administration (ETPA) in which East Timorese public civil servants directly interacted with their counterparts on the international staff, they were not provided with enough skills and confidence to take over their full responsibility.

Furthermore, during the UN transitional administration, people were in a desperate economic condition. The devastation of the country’s infrastructure profoundly affected local economic sectors, notably the agriculture system, which was the main livelihood for East Timorese. This started with the crisis of 1999 when a majority of the people abandoned their fields, though people depended on international assistance since the establishment of the UNTAET. This created new social issues, when the UN did not respond with immediate action to reactivate basic East Timorese economic activities. As a result, people were not encouraged to return to their villages and remained in the capital city relying on international aid, creating high unemployment. On the other hand, the UN should that considered the East Timorese had been under two colonial systems, Portuguese and Indonesian, in which economic and political systems were totally controlled. People were not allowed to independently manage their economy and this became a new obstacle for an independent state. Therefore, prior to its departure the UN administration should have provided an economic foundation on which the local agriculture production, at least, could have been self-sustaining.

In addition, in responding to the human rights violations in 1999, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights established an International Commission of Inquiry (ICI). This commission concluded that there had been extensive violence and grave human right violations after the referendum on August 30, 1999. The ICI testified that the violations of human rights in East Timor were crimes against humanity. However, the UN-sponsored tribunals in Jakarta and East Timor failed to bring to justice those suspected of committed atrocities, especially the top Indonesian generals who directly supervised the military forces. The international community and the victims are still questioning the process of the UN-sponsored tribunals and the outcomes which become important lessons for the future justices in both countries, Timor-Leste and Indonesia.
However, East Timorese political elites themselves did not take advantage of the two years of the United Nations mission. They should have been learned of the ineffectiveness of UN missions in other countries by pushing the UN to prepare public civil servants, a national police and military institutions. Moreover, they should also have been involved in the process of transitional administration of the UN to experience policy and decision making within a sovereign state. When the UN established a National Council during the peace-building process, the East Timorese elites were not effectively involved in the process. East Timorese national leaders could not properly utilize the opportunity with the UN and other international organizations. Timor-Leste would have had much better preparation if national leaders had learned more from the UN mission and other international organizations whether UN agencies or international non-governmental organizations. As a result, they, East Timorese were unable to maintain the integrity of state institutions, which led to the political crisis of 2006. Therefore, East Timorese could learn an important lesson from the historical period by avoiding the same political errors.


The East Timorese should internalize their political history with a common objective. With the current political situation, the veteran resistance leaders are regarded as a foundation for the new generation. If they are unable to create common ground in the sense of good will to build the country collectively, the new generation of East Timorese will imitate what has been done in the past. Historical leaders and political parties constitute an important asset of East Timorese national development and people should be proud of their extraordinary contribution during the resistance. However, the historical values will bring positive impact only if the veteran resistance leaders utilize them for the sake of people’s interest without preferential historical ideologies.

The political leaders should consider themselves to be agents of national development and create an environment in which people can live in peace and tranquility. This means that the political leaders have a major responsibility to maintain national stability by prioritizing the interests of the East Timorese people. If the leaders of political parties favor their party ideologies above national interests, it will erode nationalism, so people regard themselves as not part of the nation building project. People will be apathetic about the future of their country because the leaders themselves have no political commitment to the importance of independence to develop the country.

1. Dunn, J. (1983). Timor people betrayed. N.S.W.: The Jacaranda Press.

2. Horta, J. R. (1987). Funu: the unfinished saga of East Timor. Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, Inc.

High price of liberty begins to pay off for East Timor

August 30, 2009 The Age High price of liberty begins to pay off for East Timor Damien Kingsbury - A decade after the devastation that surrounded the vote for independence, there are some promising signs.

TODAY is 10 years since the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. Following 24 years in which more than a quarter of the population was killed or died as result of the occupation, the vote of almost 80 per cent in favour of independence was not surprising.

What was extraordinary was that in what had become a war zone, 98.6 per cent of registered voters turned out.

Heavily armed Indonesian police and soldiers stood at polling centres. The Indonesian army's proxy militias strolled in and out intimidating voters.

Yet wearing their best clothes, the East Timorese defiantly voted.

By early afternoon on August 30, the first polling station, at the village of Ritabou, was already in flames. Thus ended the brief ''truce'' that divided the violence leading up to the ballot and that which followed it.

An orgy of violence and destruction spread from there, engulfing whole communities, a whole people.

Officially, about 1400 people were said to have been killed across East Timor, although many more have never been accounted for. Unofficially, the UN Serious Crimes Unit estimated that 3000 to 4000 people were murdered.

In a clever strategy of intimidation, ballot observers and UN staff had been directly threatened but rarely harmed. Yet the day after the ballot, my house in Maliana was in flames. At one of 13 militia roadblocks between Maliana and Dili, a screaming militia member affected by drugs put an M-16 rifle to my head.

East Timor began to burn more furiously, with the police, sent under a deal with the UN to protect it, standing by and watching, or helping, it burn.

After August 30, our observer group began leaving as they could, the last main group going out on September 4 on the deck of a refugee-filled cargo boat, leaving the port under gunfire as the flames spread.

It was only the strength of Australian public feeling that forced the reluctant Howard government to form the international force Interfet. After the TNI (Indonesian military) and militias withdrew across the border, the first months were devoted to keeping people alive. The hard work started after that.

In the lead-up to the ballot, the expectations of independence had been impossibly high. The reality disappointed, as it so often has after a colonial power departs, taking administrative capacity, jobs and money with it.

More than 70 per cent of the country was burnt and, beyond a few roads, there was no infrastructure left to speak of.

After promising the people of East Timor that it would not leave, the UN returned to begin building a new country. It brought very mixed skills and interest and consequently produced mixed results. As local and returning elites vied for greater political control, the UN was only too happy to hand over power and then withdraw too early.

The result was a fledgling government with limited capacity faced with growing disenchantment and dissent. In the face of dissent, the government increasingly trended towards authoritarian responses. The people of East Timor had, however, not voted out Indonesia to replace it with domestic authoritarianism.

But the party of government, Fretilin, had wrapped itself in the cloak of independence. The stage was set for a split, which in 2006 almost plunged the fledgling country into civil war.

Having left too soon, the international community returned, elections scheduled for 2007 were held and the government was changed. Despite some post-election violence, the situation increasingly settled.

Particularly in 2008 and into 2009, the economy has grown, largely due to government spending on the back of oil receipts. The drought that had plagued recent years ended and the markets are again full of food. Public works and infrastructure development is visible, notably in Dili.

A sense of security and stability has returned.

East Timor continues to face obstacles. It takes many years to turn around illiteracy and limited health care, and economic growth, while good at 13 per cent, is off a very low base.

But East Timor is not a failed state and is decreasingly likely to become so.

It has avoided the post-colonial challenge of slipping into authoritarianism. There have been elections and democratic consolidation. Its people have embraced electoral politics, voluntarily turning out for elections in numbers equal to compulsory voting in Australia.

East Timor is a small country and still vulnerable, but after the Indonesian occupation, and the events of 1999, its people are beginning to enjoy at least some of the fruits of political freedom.

Associate professor Damien Kingsbury works at Deakin University's School of International and Political Studies.

Indonesian Foreign Minister to visit Dili for referendum anniversary

Sat, 08/29/2009, 2:10 PM The Jakarta Post Wirajuda to visit Dili for referendum anniversary - INDONESIA: Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda will visit Dili on Sunday to attend the commemoration ceremony of the tenth anniversary of Referendum Day, when the majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia.

"Given the amicable relations between Indonesia and Timor Leste, we accept their invitation to attend the commemoration ceremony," ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told journalists Friday.

Timor Leste, which was formerly known as East Timor, was Indonesia's 27th province before it gained independence through a United Nations-backed referendum in 1999. The elections were marred by violence, including human rights violations allegedly committed by the Indonesian military.

Faizasyah said Indonesia and Timor Leste had agreed to remove the burden of history by settling the human rights cases peacefully through the Commission of Truth and Friendship, established in 2005.

"Both countries are now looking to the opportunities that lie ahead," he said. - JP
Image added by ELTJB: The flag of the former Indonesian province of Timor Timur.

Radio 2SER Interview with Clinton Fernandes on Justice in Timor

August 28, 2009 11:50 PM PDT Current Affairs from Radio 2SER-FM 107.3 Still no action on Timor atrocities - As international guests fly in to East Timor today to mark the country's 10th anniversary of independence, human rights groups are calling for action on past atrocities.

More than 1000 people were killed by Indonesian militia groups in 1999 but no one has been held accountable or charged, according to an Amnesty International report.

The report also details how Indonesia, Timor Leste and the UN have failed to bring to account, those involved in the crimes against humanity in the 25 years preceding the vote for independence.

Very few of the Indonesian officers responsible for the murder, rape and torture of thousands of East Timorese have been prosecuted and even less are serving prison sentences.

Dr Clinton Fernandes is an Indonesia expert at the Australian Defence Force Academy - He spoke with 2ser's Alex Angel.

Direct audio link: http://2ser.podomatic.com/enclosure/2009-08-28T23_52_39-07_00.mp3


Image added by ETLJB: Mr Clinton Fernandes

An International Tribunal for Timor-Leste: An idea that won't go away

An International Tribunal for Timor-Leste: An idea that won't go away

On the swearing-in of National Directors of the Civil Service Commission




Ministry of State Administration and Territorial Planning

24 August 2009

Dear Members of Government

His Excellency the President of the Civil Service Commission
Dear Civil Service Commissioners
Dear Directors
Dear Heads of Department
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the President of the Civil Service Commission and the other Commissioners for organising this ceremony and for the fact that, only a week after having taken up their positions, they have ensured that the Civil Service Commission is able to commence performing the tasks that it was mandated to perform.

As I have said on several occasions, this Commission is vital for Timor-Leste. This is because it will strengthen the institutional capacity of public administration, defend the interests of the State and improve the delivery of public services.

The Government is fully committed to reforming public administration through the development of institutions and mechanisms of good governance to strengthen transparency, professionalism and efficiency and to ensure that these characteristics are reflected not only by our country but also in the behaviour and attitudes of our civil servants.

Dear Directors and Heads of Department,

Today you are being given a great responsibility. As managers of the Secretariat of the Civil Service Commission you are responsible for ensuring a non-partisan and independent civil service, where merit and professionalism are at the forefront, and in continuously defending the interests of the community and the People.

The best possible way for this goal to be achieved is for you to perform your tasks with a simple but important approach: leading by example!

I trust that you will make this dream become reality.

Starting today, you will have a new and stimulating challenge: you will become responsible for the development of a framework of public sector administration that seeks to provide quality services to the State and the People of Timor-Leste, and one that ensures that civil servants are treated with fairness and that upholds that standards of quality, innovation and leadership.

And speaking about innovation and leadership, I would like to appeal to the Civil Service Commission, to consider and reflect on the issue of the management structure and positions within public administration, especially the designations of General Director and National Director.

The complexity of this terminology and their related concepts can make the administrative of the State less transparent and effective, rather than simple and more functional.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At this important moment, I wish to convey to you two main messages:

The first is that your mission must be viewed with great responsibility, as your performance will be very important for the achievement of the goals that were the basis for the establishment of the Civil Service Commission – improving the capacity of the civil service, and in turn benefiting the People.

The second message is that it is essential for your work to be performed with a spirit of cooperation, collaboration and integrity, assisting the Civil Service Commissioners and forming a team that is truly committed and dedicated to the public cause.

His Excellency the President of the Civil Service Commission

Dear Commissioners

Dear Directors and Heads of Department,

You have an enormous challenge ahead of you. In order to lead national and economic development it is essential that the civil service has technical and administrative skills and can provide quality services to the population.

National development, which is a longing of all Timorese citizens and which will lead to the reduction of poverty, is intrinsically tied with your mission and your professional performance.

I ask that every Director and Head of Department sworn-in today keep up the good work.

Do not lose heart in face of the challenges you will meet, for with pride in our work, dedication and competence we can reinvent our Public Administration.

To serve the People, to serve the State, to serve the Nation – with honour and integrity – is one of the most noble tasks one can perform in this Country.

Thank you very much!

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

24 August 2009

Incest in East Timor

ETLJB 30 August 2009 SYDNEY The social problem of incest (which some describe as a moral and religious issue as well) is a difficult subject to broach. But it is a matter that requires the utmost attention from policy makers and law drafters because the state has a singular duty to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in the community; amongst whom we count our children.

Sexual violations and predations on children must be investigated and prosecuted with the full force of the criminal law. The protection of the rights of the child is a fundamental responsbility of every civilised society. Recent cases of sexual and other physical abuse of children at the hands of the agents of the Catholic Church around the world have caused a global wave of horror and disbelief. The crime of incest takes away from the quality of life of those against whom it is committed and causes profound psychological and physiological problems. It is worthwhile, therefore, having a look at some of the empirical evidence of incest in East Timor and the possible causes for its occurrence.

In November 2007, the East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) reported on proceedings in the Baucau District Court concerning incest. JSMP reported that incest cases were continuing to increase in the jurisdiction of the Baucau District Court.

The Women's Justice Unit of JSMP monitored five cases of violence against women that were heard on the 20th and 21st November 2007. Of these five cases, one related to domestic violence and the other four related to sexual assault.

Based on monitoring conducted by Flora Soriano, a legal researcher from the Women’s Justice Unit (WJU) of JSMP, the victims of these criminal cases were related to the defendants. In three cases the victims were underage and in the remaining two cases the victims were adults.

In response to the rising number of incest cases in Timor Leste involving underage female victims, Timotio de Deus, Executive Director of JSMP, appealed to everyone across the nation to be more proactive in protecting and supervising young girls from the dangers of sexual assault. Parents have the moral responsibility to supervise, protect and accompany their young daughters.

The JSMP executive expressed deep concern at the rising number of incest cases in Timor Leste because the perpetrators of these rapes are related to the victims. JSMP called on all members of the community in Timor Leste to work together and stand side by side to protect the young generation from acts of sexual assault. Often these cases of incest involve step fathers and their step daughters, and even biological fathers and their own children.

Timotio stated that many parents in this nation suffered from moral degradation. Therefore, JSMP appealed to everyone in Timor Leste, especially educated parents and religious leaders, to pay attention to this issue. If we fail to do so, people will say that people in Timor Leste practice incest, because many parents commit sexual assault against their own children to appease their own sexual desires.

JSMP described these crimes as heinous and shameful and undermine human dignity. On the other hand, they undermine the dignity and respect of Timor Leste in the eyes of the rest of the world.

In November 2008, JSMP reported again on proceedings in the Oecusse District Court involving incest against minors where the Defendant was the father of the victims On 19 November the Oe-Cusse District Court conducted a hearing into a case of sexual assault involving the defendant HN. This immoral incident occurred in December 2006 in Taiboko village, Oe-Cusse. Based on monitoring conducted by JSMP at the aforementioned court, the trial was closed to the public because the case related to the chastity of minors (13 and 11 years old).

JSMP was informed by the lawyer for HN after the conclusion of the trial that the defendant did not provide consistent testimony throughout the course of the trial in regards to what he had previously told police during their investigations. This was also the case with testimony provided by the witness (mother of the victims).

The two victims decided to say nothing when invited to make a statement. As the testimony of the defendant kept changing the prosecution was not able to establish the elements of the charge (Article 285 of the Indonesian Penal Code).

In his final statement the lawyer for the defendant asked the court to acquit the defendant from all charges because his guilt had not been established.

Finally, the defendant informed the court that he and the victims had agreed to an amicable settlement (forgiveness). However, it appears that the court did not recognize this agreement because it was unclear.

The issue of incest rose to prominence in the public arena again this year when a new law regulating abortion was enacted. Women's and human rights civil society organisations lobbied the Council of Ministers to include an exemption in cases of incest (and rape) in the draft law from the proposed prohibition on abortion. The Catholic Church demanded the exclusion of such an exemption. In the end, the conservative view prevailed.

From these law reports and the analyses from JSMP, there is no doubt that incest is a grave social problem in East Timor and that the rights of the child are not universally protected in East Timor.

Fox posits two types of socialisation process concerning the sexual life of the family. One is "easy", where siblings are allowed a great deal of familiarity with each other and parents with their children. As a result, their sexual attraction for each other is muted - reduced to a low key. In the "hard" type, there is considerable prudery (the type of prudery propagated by conservative religion) and modesty within the family with the result that the members remain strangers to each other.

Under these circumstances, argues Fox, they will be as sexually arousing to each other at puberty as strangers will. No process has intervened to produce a natural aversion. It may be that they can easily turn to other sexual partners at puberty thus easing the stresses. But, as Fox notes, it is probable that in such a society, there will be restrictions - on premarital sexuality, for example - that may prevent this. Again, in East Timor, this is certainly the case as the Catholic Church doctrine prohibits pre-marital sex.

Fox notes, finally, that if the people in this second type of socialised family are in any way cooped up together, they will have an acute problem. It may solve itself in that the very strength of the drive may be such as to produce its own inhibition. People are so scared of strong sexual feelings toward their family members that they withdraw into fantasy, producing incest myths, or they project their feelings onto witches who commit incest with impunity. Or, says Fox, they work the whole thing out of their system when anyone does give way and commit the super-crime of incest by killing them with revolting tortures, etc.*

Fox's analysis seems not far off the mark when we consider the social and religious context in East Timor which is conducive to incest. Policy-makers and legislators need to take account of empirical evidence and rational analyses of social problems - not supernatural invocations of supposed divine laws - in order to find effective solutions.

Indeed, in the case of incest, there seems to be strong grounds for ascribing much of its cause to the Catholic Church its very self and therefore a compelling reason to design a policy and legislative framework that is based on the pressing secular needs of the population; particularly the need for the protection of the basic legal and human rights of the child; strong state intervention in the application of the criminal laws, the provision of protective mechanisms for family members who have been the victim of incest, and a national public education campaign to raise consciousness of the problem and the criminal law regime governing incest offences.

*Fox Robin Kinship and Marriage Pelican 1967 pp 73-75

East Timor celebrates, but memories of a violent past remain

The Courier Mail (Australia) Bernadette Connole August 28, 2009 Friday A decade since the historic vote for independence, there is still plenty of rebuilding ahead, writes Bernadette Connole

ONE night almost a decade ago I was awoken by my ringing phone.

It was my friend from Timor Leste, Amelia Rodrigus, who had been missing for eight days. She called me to report that she was safe and in Dili.

I cried. I had feared the worst. Reports from Dili were grim and there were estimates of more than 100,000 dead from the violence after the referendum a few weeks earlier.

Amelia, a translator and electoral assistant, and I had worked together in Lesibutok, West Dili, for 33 days before Timor took its major step to independence. We were employed to register people to vote.

As the ballot drew near, you could smell the impending violence in the air. The pigs stopped running across the road, the goats hid under the trees.

Each evening after we did the voter education in the villages, the militia would torch the houses as a clear indication that voting against Indonesia has immediate consequences.

The polisi, or Indonesian police would arrive on motorbikes, circle the compound and check staff IDs. It was as if they were making a list of who would be punished.

Events spiralled out of control to the point of civil war. I was one of 400 volunteers evacuated to Darwin.

As we left the UN compound, I told Amelia to go to the Australian Embassy. But she ended up in an Indonesian re-education camp on the border. Many staff were killed and her boyfriend was shot.

After that late-night phone call from her I felt calmer.

But back at my normal life in Australia, I realised I needed to return to see what had happened, to see if things had changed and to visit my friend.

I stayed with the Rodrigus family in Dili, chickens in the room and water buffalo watching from the window.

Amelia and I returned to the village of Lesibutok.

We went back to Mass, played soccer with the children and the healing began.

It will be 10 years this weekend since that historic vote took place and most years I return to East Timor. Amelia now has four children and I visit for their birthdays.

We eat ice-cream, laugh, play football and watch the pigs play in the back yard. I am godmother to her son Jonathon.

She was one of the first UN volunteers to work in Liberia and she trained an assistant there.

It is easy to romanticise aid work - how we help save fragile states and bring democracy.

There is glory in arriving in a UN helicopter, but most of us realise it's the hard yards on the ground that matter most.

On this 10th anniversary there is much focus on those who lost their lives during those turbulent days in August 1999.

Yes there was loss, but it was also a time when many of us found ourselves and new friends.

I still have Amelia.

Above all else, we must remember our commitment to this young country. We must continue to help rebuild radio stations, roads and the soul of this young democracy.

Bernadette Connole worked as an electoral officer for the United Nations in 1999 and received two bravery commendations for her work in South-East Asia. She is a board member of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

29 August 2009

East Timor Legal News 25 August 2009

Police officer allegedly beats a teacher Suara Timor Lorosa'e 25 August 2009 MP Joao Maia from the National Unity Party (PUN) has called on the state secretariat for security to hold an investigation into the case of the beating of a teacher in Gleno, Ermera involving a police officer.

PNTL command prepares 975 police officers for village chiefs election Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 25 August 2009 The Timorese National Police (PNTL) Command has prepared 975 of its officers to secure the village chiefs election that will be held on October 9 this year.

Timorese students in Philippines threatened Suara Timor Lorosae 25 August 2009 Timorese students who are currently studying in Philippines are threatened not to continue their study as the owner of the university, Manuel Angeles, is suspected of being engaged in corruption.

German Peadophile in Timor-Leste

Friday, 21 August 2009 German Peadophile in Timor-Leste Tempo Semanal TV - The German 80 years oldman was arrested last month in Dili by the UNPOL and Timorese national Police officers after alleged peadafhile 8 Timorese young boys. He has been put into police custody for an investigation and then now staying a hotel in Dili. Just a weak ago Tempo Semanal found the suspect with a stick and wearing white T-Shirt walking into the Audian Hotel which located in Audian. In this video you will see he was brought back to Tourismu Hotel by UNPOL and East Timorese Police for further investigation.