30 May 2010

FRETILIN warns Timor-Leste Police Chief not to alarm Ermera communities




Dili, 28 May 2010

FRETILIN warns Timor-Leste Police Chief not to alarm Ermera communities

Exaggerated statements by the National Police Chief Longuinhos Monteiro regarding the security situation in Ermera district have unnecessarily alarmed local communities and appear to be politically motivated, said FRETILIN MP Jose Teixeira, a member of Parliament's Defence, Security and Foreign Affairs Committee today.

Mr Teixeira said Commander General Monteiro's "scaremongering" may be related to de facto Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's planned visit to Ermera next week.

Mr Teixeira said FRETILIN would urge the parliamentary committee to call the Secretary of State for Security and Police Chief Monteiro to explain events affecting security in Ermera.

"We are very concerned by how this matter has been handled. We hold serious concerns for what may be intended by the police when the de facto Prime Minister visits Ermera district," he said.

Mr Teixeira said FRETILIN had examined the security situation in Ermera and sought the concerns and opinions of local communities, their leaders, the local Police, and other defence and security personnel which contradicted Commander Monteiro's alarmist statements.

Mr Teixeira said: "On the 19th of May 2010 Monteiro was reported in the Timor Post as referring to 'an organized group engaged in terror activities, terrorizing and intimidating communities.....armed with firearms' and that there had been a 'two hour shootout' with the Police in Ermera district. These statements clearly alarmed the communities, and led to questions in parliament.

"However today's Timor Post reported Ermera's top police officer, District Commander Mariano Martins Soares as saying, 'I have not seen the face of one person engaged in such illegalities until now, and as for a shootout perhaps it was the sound of a bed banging at night that has made people in the capital Dili think that there were gun shots here in Ermera'.

Mr Teixeira said Commander Monteiro had been spreading unsubstantiated rumours about armed groups and weapons widespread throughout the district.

"The Ermera police commander made it clear in his Timor Post interview that there had been some criminal conduct but that the victim communities reported attackers armed with machetes only, not firearms.

"Other national defence and security analysts who have surveyed the situation in Ermera agree with the district commander's assessment.

Mr Teixeira said Commander Monteiro's scaremongering was similar to his alarmist statements about 'ninja' activities in Bobonaro and Covalima districts, earlier this year.

"These statements were accompanied by a major police operation resulting in widespread reports of human rights abuses documented by Timor Leste's Ombudsman for Human rights and Justice and a national human rights NGO, the HAK Association. We are concerned this will be repeated in Ermera," he added.

For further information please contact Jose Teixeira MP on +670 728 708

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