13 February 2013

Tension between military and dissident political group CPD-RDTL grows

ETLJB 13 February 2013 - Tensions between East Timor's military and the dissident political group known as CPD-RDTL which reached a new stage when CPD-RDTL members occupied land in the southern district of Manufahi last month, have increased in recent days with rhetoric between the military chief, Lere Anan Timor, and the leaderhsip of CPD-RDTL becoming more conflictual.

State leaders such as the President and former military chief, Taur Matan Ruak, the Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, as well as the Parliament and the present military chief have been urging CPD-RDTL over the last several weeks to leave the lands they have occupied in Manufahi, to stop wearing military-style uniforms, carrying weapons and intimidating the local residents.

The military has already mobilised to the area. TVTL reported on 22 January 2013 that the Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) soldiers conducted a two-week "Cobra" Exercise in the southern district of Manufahi to help increase skills of the defense force soldiers.

Speaking to journalists on that occasion, the Deputy Commander of F-FDTL, Bridger General Filomeno Paixao, said "This is not a military operation, but it is exercise or training to try capacity of F-FDTL's soldiers which has been in the plans."

Earlier last month, Independente reported on 18 January 2013, that the Prime Minister (PM) Xanana Gusmao announced to CPD-RDTL members at Welaluhu in Same District that he would evacuate them from there himself, if necessary.  “I believe they will go back to their home because after debating the state budget, I pledge to go with cars to pick them up to their home,” he said.

Gusmao also warned that if CPD-RDTL did not want to move from that place he would evacuate them through force by sending in the military and the police.

On Friday, 8 February 2013, TVTL carried a report that quoted Major General Lere as describing the concentration of CPD-RDTL members in the sub-district of Fatoberliu as a situation that "may give others the opportunity to create instability in the country and has implicated influences from Indonesia.

TVTL reported the Major General as saying that "We have also heard that some of our friends from the other side (Kupang and Atambua) are inside the CPD-RDTL.  They are together with you now. Be careful with this.  As I have already told you here today, I referred to the names of some heroes and you have also suffered for this country.  But when you concentrate like this, some people can take advantage of the situation," Lere Anan Timur told the gathering. He was also reported as saying that the nation was built on the remains and blood of many people, and because of this there is no one who will be allowed to destroy this nation.

On the same day, TVTL also reported further remarks by Major General Lere condemning the actions of CPD-RDTL members who used the national flag to sit on in their cars.  The military (F-FDTL) discovered this when they carried out searches of CPD-RDTL members in the Fatoberliu sub-district, Manufahi District.

The head of the F-FDTL, Major General Lere Anan Timur told the CPD-RDTL masses gathered at a  former Indonesian transmigration site SP2 in Kiras, Sub district of Fatoberliu, Manufahi that "the Timor-Leste National flag has its legacy in the blood and mortal remains of nearly 200,000 Timorese who died for this beloved nation."  Lere Anan Timur said that the F-FDTL and the police had proof that some CPD-RDTL members had used the national flag to sit on whilst travelling in their cars.

Lre is reported to have also said on that occasion that "During these searches we found out a lot of things.  Your CPD-RDTL members spread the national flag down inside the car and sat on top of it.  Now you are making a mistake doing this.  This flag you are raising, was bought with blood and remains of people, with which we must be careful.  If you want to sit on this flag, then which flag do you want instead? This flag has the price of blood spilt, the price of fallen bodies.  This was the flag many of our compatriots died for.  We will defend this flag against anyone, another country invading our country.

Your compatriots dressed in uniform (the F-FDTL) have sworn, I have sworn, to defend this flag with our lives.  Only after have all died and gone can others tromp on our flag, but nobody will stomp on our flag whilst we are still alive. Some time ago I went to Lospalos to meet with your CPD-RDTL colleagues, and heard them singing the Falintil Anthem.  But, they changed the words, with references to hoes, to motor vehicles, buffaloes, horses and other things.  So I told them that the Falintil anthem is a sacred anthem.  No one can change the words to refer to cars, carrying machetes, horses, buffaloes.  The Falintil anthem was established with blood, with the bones and bodies of the fallen.  That is why you should not change the words of the Falintil anthem.  If you want to change the words then find another piece of music.  The Falintil anthem must not turn into a song about cars, be about cornfields, about rice paddies. The Falintil anthem is a warriors anthem, not a farmers anthem.  It's alright, because sometimes we do not know what democracy is.  So firstly, you as Timorese, also as Timorese citizens, you have to accept that you are subject to the government and the state," said Lere Anan Timur.

Also, during the searches of the CPD-RDTL members, they also found weapons (knives and such hand implements) carried in bags. "Then, we also detected you CPD-RDTRL carrying sharp weapons (swords and fighting knives)," Lere said.

The CPD-RDTL leaders have refused the requests from the state institutions to leave the area and have vowed to do the same thing - occupy lands, cultivate the lands, and so on, in four other districts.

National newspaper Diario repoted on  Tuesday, 12 February 2013, that the Council of the Peoples' Defence-Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (CPD-RDTL) wold not accept the order from the RDTL state, through Major General Lere Anan Timur, Chief of the Timor-Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL) that the CPD-RDTL vacate the land which they have occupied in Fatoberliu sub-district.

According to CPD-RDTL spokesperson, Gil Fernandes da Costa, the objective of the CPD-RDTL is to increase the national agricultural production so as to minimize imports.

'There is no reason for us to leave that place, and we will stand fast to our position and stay there because there is a cooperative currently operating there and we have planted rice so we are going to wait to harvest it.  Regarding using that place to hold prisoners, that is not yet ready, and some time will be needed to prepare the conditions there and the government has to do that. So to be effective, the government has to support the activities that CPD-RDTL is undertaking right now, because this activity promotes cooperatives as per the government's plans," he told Jornal Diaro at the CPD-RDTL headquarters in Balide, Monday (11/2/13)

Gil affirmed that recently F-FDTL Major General Lere Anan Timur requested  CPD-RDTL to leave the area its members have occupied so that the government can use that location for prisoners from Gleno, Ermera and Becora to farm there, but CPD-RDTL will maintain its position to continue to stay there, because there is no where else the government has allocated to them yet.

So he also said that there are many locations that are state land that have remained unused, so according to CPD-RDTL's plan, they will start using all these other places such as in Lospalos, Maliana, Manatuto and Suai, which they will include in their cooperative activities so that Timor-Leste will not be dependent on imports in the future.

See also

Sources: TVTL,  Independente, Diario, ETLJB Edited by Warren L. Wright

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