Monthly Archives: June 2006

Pro FRETILIN Rally Dili

Dili

Despite the threat of roaming anti-FRETILIN thugs in the outskirts of
Dili FRETILIN supporters turned out in huge numbers to welcome the 200
vehicle convoy from Metinaro carrying supporters from all over the
country including many from the so called Loro Mono (western) area’s.

They were greeted in the central area of Dili by people handing out
flowers and shouting “Viva FRETILIN”. The rally was estimated to be 10
times larger than the biggest anti-FRETILIN demo.

FRETILIN were allowed in a tightly controlled area of central Dili while
the counter-demonstrators were allowed to roam all over the rest of
Dili.

At least one FRETILIN truck had to be rescued after it broke down and
was surrounded by thugs who were threatening to burn it.

Two houses belonging to people from Los Palos in the east were burned
down during the night.

It was also reported that a displaced peoples camp on the Dili
waterfront had been attacked by a stone throwing anti FRETILIN mob.

This morning ADF soldiers were seen searching for weapons in a displaced
peoples camp at a church in Farol. When asked why they were only
searching Los Palos’s peoples tents they said they were, with no hint of
irony, “asking about peoples health”!

On the whole though it is reported that the ADF behaved OK today.

Report from Lidia Dili 7:00pm Thursday 29th Jun 2006

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Report from Lidia Fretilin march to Dili

Tuesday 27th June 2006

Lidia went to monitor events at Metinaro where Fretilin are holding a rally. There are at least 7000 well behaved people mainly Loro Sae (eastern) people but with a large contingent from Same and Emera (towns in the west). They were discussing the demonstration to be held later that day or on Wednesday in Dili. They were also waiting for 3000 people to arrive from Los Palos (the furthest east province).

At about 12:00am Secretary General of FRETILIN Mari Alkatiri came to address the people, he was very well recieved.

I left with my party to monitor the ADF at checkpoints on the route back to Dili. The ADF (Austrailian army are leading the international peacekeeping force with Malysia and New Zeeland) were on the whole behaving pleasantly, possibly because of the presence of a westerner.

We then went a bit further down the road and found a pleasant spot to have lunch and waited to see how events would progress. About two hours later we heard that people had left Metinaro to proceed to Dili.

Two of use decided to go back to the checkpoint on a motorbike (car wasn’t working very well). The soldiers recognised us and let us stay to monitor. We could hear singing, chanting and generally enjoying themselves as they walked towards the checkpoint.

It was apparent that they knew they would have to be searched before being let through however one of the ADF soldiers started behaving badly saying “you are not coming through here” and gesturing at them with his gun.

Several people who were stewarding the march came to the front and calmed the situation as people were getting distressed at not getting through. I asked the soldier who was provoking the situation to stop (will try to get his name if he’s there tomorrow).

I was approached by a member of the ADF from New Zealand who asked me what the problem was. I told him the Australian solder was behaving badly and appeared to be trying to provoke a reaction.

He then asked me to assist in explaining to the people what was happening – they were going to search people then let them through. I spoke to my friend as I am not fluent enough in Tetun and asked for assistance. We then walked along the line of people with the stewards saying calma, calma. We were met with good humour by the people in the line who started singing and chanting Alkatiri, Alkatiri. At this point more people started arriving in trucks and on bikes.

The soldiers were totally bewildered, possibly because they have been told Alkatiri has no support and also they didn’t appear to be trained for this sort of situation.

I was again approached by the New Zealand soldier and asked to explain it would take quite a while to check them through. They said they were waiting for more support from Dili.

We understood that Alkatiri was returning from Dili to make sure the situation remained calm. We spoke to the stewards explaining what the ADF had asked us to do. We assisted the stewards in telling them Alkatiri was on his way back to speak to everyone. We met with the same good humour and singing as before.

Myself I was worried that people would push forward when Alkatiri arrived. At this point more ADF arrived with tanks and trucks looking more like an occupying army than peacekeepers.

Alkatiri arrived to a tumultuous welcome, people shouting Fretilin, Fretilin, Alkatiri, Alkatiri. I had to help one woman who was completely overcome with emotion and had fell to the ground.

The troops who were at the front responded with good humour to the crowd one of them saying “this is great”. A few people tried to surge forward to greet Alkatiri but were stopped by the stewards. Alkatiri spoke but couldn’t be heard because of the noise of the crowd. I went to speak to someone at this point, when I returned to the checkpoint the trucks, cars and people were moving backwards. I asked the soldier from New Zealand if the ADF were forcing people back. The gentleman shook this head in total bemusement, he said “no Alkatiri did it by raising his hands and saying move back my friends and the crowds moved back”.They were moved into a clearing further back along the road.

Alkatiri then disappeared into the crowd to be received by another rapturous welcome. We were to far away to hear what he was saying and after watching for a while we returned to the rest of our group and waited to see what would happen.

It was obviously to late to let people through to Dili and we heard that people were going back to Metinaro for the night so we decided to go back to Dili

Timor Leste Situation Report 28th June 2006

Timor-Leste Situation Report

Wednesday June 28th, 2006

This was prepared by a small collective of people working inside and outside Timor-Leste to develop a counter analysis to that presented daily in the Australian media.

Despite the presence of several thousand international security personnel, the security situation in Timor-Leste remains very serious. This is preventing the resumption of a peaceful and democratic process to resolve the crisis within the framework of the Constitution and the Rule of Law. Some key points are:

· Groups of people/protestors are moving freely around Dili, intimidating FRETILIN members and supporters; attacking and burning houses of FRETILIN members; abusing and insulting members of the FRETILIN leadership; using inflammatory language to incite people to attack their leaders and militants. Some people say the protestors and the violent gangs are separate groups, but when the protest leaders drive around Dili, they allow anyone to jump onto their trucks and join in the protest. Some of the people on the trucks then undertake other actions at night, attacking and threatening people. And the violent abusive nature of the protesters slogans eg communist, terrorist, thief, are easily interpreted by poor, angry and semi-literate youth as a license to attack FRETILN leaders and supporters.

· The protest has continued, despite the fact that Dr Alkatiri agreed on Monday that he would resign, to prevent the President from resigning, and to facilitate a political solution to the crisis. Some protest leaders now are calling on the President to dissolve the democratically-elected Parliament, and pass all power into his own hands until an election can be held, a totally unconstitutional move.

· It is also worth noting that when the President, the Foreign Minister or leaders of the various minority opposition parties address the protests and give them encouragement, this is seen positively; but when FRETILIN’s leaders address their own militants and supporters, this is seen as inciting violence – despite the fact that the main message of FRETILIN’s leaders has consistently been the need for things to be done within the rule of law.

· The most recent violence, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, was a direct response to the footage on Timor TV of the FRETILIN rally of 18,000 people at Hera, outside Dili. Note that this rally was six times larger than anything to date organised by the opposition parties. Immediately the TV report finished, FRETILIN members began receiving threatening text messages. Within an hour fires were being lit, in FRETILIN members houses which had been left vacant as a result of attacks several weeks ago, and at the end of the lane behind Dr Alkatiri’s house.

· Today’s violence extended to RTTL, Radio-Television-Timor-Leste, which was attacked. This prevented the evening news going to air tonight, which, if events had gone according to plan, would have included FRETILIN’s entry into Dili to assert its democratic mandate to govern

· In fact, the entry into Dili, along a route negotiated with the international security forces, with their full cooperation, and in keeping with a permit obtained legally to hold this demonstration, had to be postponed, because violence broke out in one of the suburbs it was to pass through. The delay in securing the route meant the decision was made, by FRETILIN leaders in consultation with the security forces, to postpone the rally until tomorrow.

· The most serious threat to security however, and to the peaceful and democratic resolution of the political situation, is the continued presence outside Dili of several armed and irregular groups of defectors from PNTL, the national police force, and from the army and other irregular units. People here understand that there are still large numbers of automatic weapons, diverted from the regular forces or taken from the PNTL armoury, which are unaccounted for. Until all these groups and their weapons are brought into secure custody, anyone associated with the government of Dr Alkatiri is in extreme danger, especially if they act in a public way to attempt to mobilise support among FRETILIN members and sympathisers. This is helping to neutralise FRETILIN’s capacity to defend itself politically.

· At tomorrows rally, FRETILIN militants and supporters will deliver their proposals to the president, for a resolution of the crisis which, while leaving room for negotiation among all state institutions, other political parties, the Church, and civil society, respects their democratic mandate to govern and carry forward their program until the next election, as set out in the Budget already prepared by Dr Alkatiri’s Council of Ministers, which included the Foreign Minister and several non-FRETILIN members.

· The question then will be: Will the President decide to continue to work with the National Parliament and the Party which holds 55 of its 88 seats; or will he, following the call of some Opposition leaders, the protestors and other miscellaneous disaffected individuals, move to dissolve the Parliament, concentrating the power to govern the republic in himself and a Prime Minister and Ministerial Council of his choosing, thus completing the coup d’etat which the FRETILIN leadership has identified as the outcome towards which a range of different local and international actors have been pushing events over the recent months, and perhaps much longer.

Bob Boughton

Dili, Timor-Leste

Threats to TV station staff

The anti Fretilin mob was reported to be threatening to shut down the TV station if staff who were from the east were not sacked.

It was also reported that the internal refugees at the airport had been threatened and told they should “get out of Dili”. Despite the fact that the airport is supposed to be secured by the ADF they didn’t get to the refugee camp for almost an hour.

In addition LUSA has reported:

Ten arrests were made by the GNR, mostly after a car with machete-wielding youths was stopped by the Portuguese police in Comoro.

The GNR commander told Lusa that among those detained was a organizer of anti-government demonstrations that have occurred for six successive days in Dili.

In other incidents later Tuesday, two cars carrying Portuguese and Brazilian nationals respectively were stoned by unknown individuals who had mounted a makeshift roadblock near the center of Dili.

Stop the Next War for Oil

Any pretence of unbiased reporting about the East Timor coup seems to have gone completely out of the window in the mainstream media. It’s obvious the Australian govenment and media have got their threatened payback against the Alkatiri led government over the negotiation on Timor Sea oil. The East Timorese are not even going to be allowed the small gains they have acceived in the oil rights issue.

The Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri is hounded with one unproven allegation after another while the Foreign/Defence Minister Ramos Horta, the Australians favourite, hob nobs with the deserters who started the troubles in April. Meanwhile President Xanana Gusmao, who is supposed to uphold the constitution, is having cosy chats on the phone with the deserters leader Major Alfredo Reinardo behind the back of the Prime Minister.

Xanana and Ramos Horta have already claimed the scalps (in one case almost literally) of two of their main political opponents Interior Minister, Rogerio Tiago Lobato, and Defence Minister Roque Rodrigues now they are trying again for Alkatiri.

In what seems a completely one sided version of the last two months events, missing is the attempt on Alkatiri at a press conference by a mob of thirty machete wielding thugs. The murder of six relatives Rogerio Lobato which appeared to be the start of the second wave of violence at the end of May also is being written out of history. All the emphasis is on the killing of nine police officers who were supporting the deserters and had disarmed under UN protection after a gun battle. While not pretending this incident was anything but deplorable it seems it was in revenge for the killing of some F-FDTL (loyal to government) soldiers, who were returning from collecting their pay, by the deserters and an ambush by the deserters in Becora that had killed another F-FDTL soldier. One of the people involved at Becora, according to journalist David O’Shea, was Major Reinardo.

The reporting of who the victims are is also very skewed, whilst there has been violence by both sides of the community by far the majority of refugees seem to be people from Los Palos, Baucau and Viqueque according to the UN.

Along with a confusing series of rumours over the last 24 hour about Xanana asking for Alkairi’s resignation the opposition have also sunk to the most basic racism. At a demonstration yesterday they were handing out fliers linking Alkatiri, a Muslim in the mostly Roman Catholic country and a descendent of Yemeni immigrants, with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. “We hate Mari Alkatiri. He is (a) descendent of bin Laden and he is (b) terrorist and communist,” the flier said, also describing him as a “murderer” and “not pure Timorese.” Although no one explained how you can be in al-Qaeda (an organisation originally set up to fight communists) and be a communist at the same time!

Cuban doctor’s house raided

One of the strangest incident during the recent trouble in East Timor was the assault on the house rented by some of the Cuban doctors who have been helping the East Timorese health service and at the moment are dealing with the refugees from the recent coup attempt.

According to East Timor’s Health Minister Rui Araujo on the 10th June at night an Australian patrol surrounded the house in the Comoro area and spoke to the young housekeeper who told them they would have to get the key as non of the doctors were there. Someone from the patrol insisted that there would be weapons inside and smashed into the house. Local residents reported that nothing had been found.

The Australian govenment and media has been demonising the Prime Minister of East Timor Mari Alkateri almost since independence, The campaign intensified during the negotaitions with Australia on the oil in the Timor Sea in which Alkateri had proved a tough negotiator. He also provoked the wrath of both the Australian and US government when he managed to get Cuban doctors and teachers to help with the reconstruction of the country- this may explain their being targeted.

Dave

Deserters disarming or not? Update

Far fewer than the expected 40-50 weapons were handed in today.

12 M-16 rifles, four pistols and ammunition were handed over at Maubbise and Five automatic rifles and two pistols at Gleno.

ADF said they hoped more would be hadned over in the next few days.