Monthly Archives: August 2006

Army deserters leader “escapes”

E Timor rebel leader escapes jail

By Anne Barker

A man-hunt is under way in East Timor’s capital Dili for 56 men who have escaped from the local prison.

One of them is rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who is blamed for some of the violence in East Timor of recent months.

Reinado was in Dili’s Becora jail on charges of attempted murder and several firearms offences.

He was arrested with 20 other men last month over their role in the violence that erupted in and around Dili in April and May.

The United Nations says Reinado was one of 55 prisoners who broke out of the prison this afternoon.

None of the escapees has any firearms.

The UN says international police and troops are already hunting them down.

In late May, Reinado led a group of fellow military police into the mountains behind Dili, refusing to give up their weapons until the then prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, resigned from office.

Some good news

Dear all,

I would like to make the following correction to email dated 19th August, subject URGENT EAST TIMOR;

Acasio was not knocked down and stabbed, he was hit by a baton, I presume to stun him, am told he lay on the ground for a long time very still. He was lying in front of the vehicle, think this is why witnesses thought he had been knocked down, I am really not sure why they said he was stabbed, many reasons could be given to this for this, one possibly being the confession and frightened villagers running from thugs. (thugs from both side of this constructed divide)

Sunday afternoon was spent in a fruitless search for other witnesses to confirm the information, fighting and burning in the Fatuhada and parts of Loro Mata still going going on most of Sunday, however on Monday afternoon I managed to track down Acaso’s wife and family.

I was told they did not know whether Acasio was dead or not, they had spend Sunday trying to find him. His brother, told me Acasio was hit with a stick by the Australian police (police authorities told us later it would have been a baton). Acasio lay on the ground for a long time, Anbilio thinks over an hour – I was not there so I cannot confirm the exact length of time. Eventually Acasio was put in a ‘paddy waggon’, presumably arrested.

His wife, brother, and brother in law went to the detention centre three times and were told there was no record of an Acasio da Silva being arrested. They were allowed to see documentation of arrests, but Acasio’s name was not shown.

The family went to the hospital to check if he was there, when this proved negative they returned to the detention centre, hoping for news, but nothing.

They asked if I could help them find Acasio, I went with them to the ‘Academy’, Cormoro – Australian and Malaysian police work from there – we spoke to Chris Thomas, who took details. She was very helpful and extremely concerned, she phoned the detention centre, but was told there was no record of Acasio being arrested. She phoned officers who had detained people on Saturday afternoon to see if they could assist. Two officers came to speak to the family.

They confirmed they had arrested people in the area but not Acasio da Silva, they asked if he had a nickname, the family said no. Family asked if it would be helpful if we returned to the detention centre with a photograph of Acasio, officers thought this could prove fruitful. After negotiations it was decided the officers would go to the detention centre to check, they would have better access.

At 9.30 p.m Monday, Acasio arrived back at the family home, he confirmed he had been arrested and had been in the detention centre on since Saturday, but had now been released. Mystery still surrounds his name not being shown on the list of detainees. I have not seen him since his release and will be away for a few days from tomorrow. Will speak to him when I return.

Hope this clarifies the situation, and apologies for stating that Acasio was stabbed, but was given the information by several witnesses, however would like to state firmly that the remainder of the information in the email was accurate. Unfortunately, many Timorese are frightened to give names, but am informed that often men come from the hills to attack the barrio’s and IDP camps, in the IDP camps people from the ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ region’s live peacefully together, the same can be said of many barrio’s, however in some barrio’s’ after attacks and rumours from wherever opposing factions do fight.

In Fatuhada and the lower section of Loro Mata an estimated 50 houses were burned during the weekend – I counted 30, but was told by one of the residents that houses had been burned higher up. The gentleman I spoke to was from the ‘western’ region’, he told me every night they sleep on the beech to avoid attacks, this is a common story.

Zito’s brother and myself visited Zito, from Loro Mata at the detention centre on Sunday morning. Zito told me he was being treated well but did not know why he had been arrested. The corporal in charge at the time showed me the facilities, they were fine, better than holding cells in England. Zito was returned home on Monday at about 9.00.

I have been informed today, by a colleague working at Oxfam, near Kia Colly, that her office was attacked and windows broken a few days ago. Some displaced people are living there. The office is very near the detention centre.

Today I was contacted by two liaison officers from the Federal Police, they asked if I would mind speaking to them re my concerns on recent problems at the detention centre etc. I met with them, we discussed the inability some of the force seem to have communicating with locals , lack of knowledge of customs and of course the lack of security in Dili. They were happy that Acasio had been traced. said they would look into why he had not been shown on the list of people arrested on Saturday, would try to ensure this did not happen again. They said they would be happy to assist if Timorese friends phoned me for help, if threatened by thugs or when treated in an inappropriate manner by any of the international force.

Told them I saw this as a very positive step and appreciated their assistance.

In solidarity Lidia

Easterners attacked again

Today has been an exceptionally bad day in Dili, most days IDP camps are stoned, and most days thugs rampage in the centre of Dili and elsewhere, please note I do not say youths on the rampage, it is mostly men from the hills behind Dili. Manleuana is where most of them come from, of course some small groups jump on the band wagon fight each other – but the real violence is from outside the IDP camps and bairro’s.

A lot of violence comes from the international forces themselves, mainly the ADF –

Today there was an attack on Fatuhada and Comoro, there were attacks in other places but these were the worst, I myself went to inform Malaysian troops that men were attacking Fatuhada with machettes, rama ambon, they did respond. Had been going to visit a friend there and was told by people running away do not go in Fatuhada is being attacked.

Late this afternoon I was telephoned for help by friends in Loru Mata, Loru Mata is in between Comoro and Fatuhada. The friend and myself had been at a GPPAK meeting, he had returned to Loru Mata to find turmoil.

He told me that thugs had been in Loru Mata, the ADF came in and made their usual response, let the thugs go started shouting at the people who were being attacked, ‘you f*****g Loru Sae terrorists, causing problems again’ – please note these were people who were being attacked by thugs from the western region and Manleuana. The ADF started firing their guns in the air, women, children and men ran to get away from the thugs and the people who are supposed to be protecting them.

One young man, Acasio, from Abogarebao ran with others up the small road from Loru Mata towards Comoro Road, an Australian police vehicle in pursuit of the terrified people knocked him down, Acasio tried to struggle to his feet, the police got out of the car and instead of helping him, arrested him. His hands were taped behind his back, he was left standing like that in the middle of the street. Thugs from the west who had been causing havoc in Loru Mata ran up and stabbed him to death, in full view of the the Australian police. Witnesses said the police did nothing. – people who witnessed Acasio being knocked down and stabbed, ran for their lives, when they went returned Acaso’s body had gone, no one knows where or who took it.

The incident has been reported to Sandy no. 10906. She informed me she would pass details on to her superior officer.

Sola who lives in Oxford, England, who is here visiting family, was told by the ADF, ‘you are f****g stupid’, he asked what gives you the right to call me stupid, do you not think your behaviour is stupid” – Some of you in England will know who I mean,Timorese do not want to give their names is case of further reprisals. Possibly he was called stupid because he tried to intervene when Zito, from Los Palos was arrested for being outside his house in Loru Mata.

Zito was arrested at about 12 o’clock this afternoon, Sandy tells me he will be detained with others till Monday – no court till then, she could not tell me what he was charged with, I will try to give further information on both incidents tomorrow morning.

In a further incident in Loru Mata,a man from Mehara was beaten badly around the head and chest with stones. Friends were unable to take him to the hospital because of the fighting they are hoping to take him in the morning.

Hasegawa, of the UN is very concerned about security now and has asked the international force to change their tactics. He asks for police to be put in bairros and IDP camps. The Timorese and others have asked this for many weeks, they are and are pleased someone from an official body is calling for this action, and urge solidarity to add their voices to this request.

Timorese friends ask that friends and solidarity in western countries do not turn a blind eye to what is happening. They ask that President Xanana is urged to solve lack of security and the behavior of the ADF. There is a huge question over why men in the hills are still armed and able to attack Dili at will.

This week two fretilin supporters were killed in Ermera and houses were burned.

Please forward this information on.

Lidia lidia.tindle@googlemail.com

Report from Timor Lorosae

Narciso and family are fine though they all had to leave Dili, there is a programme (unofficial naturally) to get rid of anyone who supports Alkatiri or socialist ideas. – Had my doubts about Alkatiri, mainly because of what I had heard in England from ETAN – etc., but I think he’s sound, he did not run a centralised government as has been claimed, the right wing, and international institutions, had his hands tied. Thus he could send little money to the districts for projects – however his government did budget for a new road from Los Palos (town) to Tutuala, the road is really bad, a pen type injector to vaccinate buffaloes against disease, and for the electricity connection between Los Palos town and the outlying villages to be repaired – many small villages including Merhara have lost electricity supply all together, they did have it when I was in Timor Lorosae last time though it was hitty missy, hurricanes, storms etc. have wrecked the cables. It was for the new fiscal year which is supposed to start now.

I attended a meeting in Mehara between administration Tutuala (Mehara district) and the community, when up there recently – Ramos-Horta, (the acceptable face of Fretilin to the elite and western power – somewhat like our beloved Tony the acceptable face of Labour – now know as New Labour with a continuation of Thatchers policies) is the new PM, though he is not Fretilin, he is independent, a deal was done with right wing Fretilin and others. Horta has started well, he now says there is not enough money for these projects and the people have to chose two. There is concern over this and also over who will do the work – western firms or Timorese. (Japan is working on a road between Dili and Ilieu, very badly – the repairs are shoddy – Japan sent some aid to Timor Lorosae last year – conditions you use our men and firms- great eh, maybe that answers some of the critics who said Alkatiri was screwing the people, and did nothing to decrease unemployment )
Possible reason there is not enough money for projects now is Timor Lorosae is paying for international assistance – which up till now has been useless.

Alkatiri’s idea was to develop Timor Lorosae slowly so they did not have to borrow from the world bank, which was why he fought the Australians so hard for the petrol revenue, he won good concessions. Timor Lorosae is debt free and the oil revenue would have meant they could employ Timorese on building, road projects etc. Alkatiri’s handling of the economy and development was praised by the European Union, and the UN last year. They said development was going well after the 25 year occupation and the referendum – people should maybe think on how long it took Britain to kick start again after the second world war.

Alkatiri’s main fault he did not explain the reason for the slow development, maybe the left of Fretilin party failed to do this in the communities, again that is what happened in Britain, so who am I to talk. He had huge support at the Fretilin demonstrations, from all over Timor Lorosae. I only wish the left had got their act together before he resigned, the demo was after his resignation and was to show that he had huge support, the demos by the way which I attended were entirely peaceful, although western thugs had attacked displaced peoples camps the night before and burnt some house, its not ordinary people who have been causing the destruction, yes some of the young have jumped on the band waggon and are fighting, but it seems highly likely they are being encouraged by someone. most of the destruction has been done by men over 25 to 40 age group.

Lidia lidia.tindle@googlemail.com

East Timor prosecutor criticised for failure to investigate rebels

Media Release

East Timor’s Prosecutor General has been criticised for failing to act
against two high-profile military figures who helped force the
resignation of former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

The Judicial System Monitoring Program, an independent non-government
organisation, says it is concerned by the Prosecutor General’s
“apparent failure to date” to initiate an investigation into Vicente
“Railos” da Conceição, an officer dismissed from the army for
disciplinary reasons in 2004.

In a widely publicised claim, Railos alleged he was recruited and
supplied with weapons by former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, with
the knowledge of former PM Alkatiri, for the purpose of forming a “hit
squad” to kill opponents of the Fretilin government.

Both Lobato and Alkatiri have denied the allegations.

In a statement issued in Dili, the JSMP said that on the basis of
Railos’s unsubstantiated allegations, the Prosecutor General launched
an investigation into Lobato and summoned Alkatiri for questioning.

“However no investigation into Railos himself appears to have been
initiated,” the JSMP pointed out.

It also criticised the Prosecutor General’s delay in investigating
rebel leader Alfredo Reinado who commanded the Military Police before
quitting the barracks in May. Reinado, who spent his exile in
Australia and trained last year at the Australian defence academy in
Canberra, was involved in an attack on government troops on the
outskirts of Dili on May 23.

Reinado and members of his armed band were finally arrested by
Portuguese police and Australian troops under the banner of the Joint
Task Force on July 26.

JSMP said it believed the Prosecutor General’s office played no role
in the arrests.

“JSMP is concerned that no action was taken earlier in this case by
the Office of the Prosecutor-General (OPG),” the statement said.

“JSMP does not understand why the questioning of Reinado and his
followers by prosecutors had not yet occurred as is required by the
Criminal Procedure Code.

“JSMP considers that delays in initiating prosecutions in high profile
cases might be interpreted as indicating that the OPG is unduly
vulnerable to external political pressure, whether from the population
or other organs of sovereignty.”

CONTACT:

Fretilin spokesman in Australia (Melbourne) Alex Tilman: phone 0419 281 175

Timor-Leste Democratic Support Network
61 / 69 Allen St
LEICHHARDT NSW 2040
August 9, 2006

Judicial System Monitoring Program in Dili: Phone: +670 332 3883
Director of JSMP Tiago Sarmento: Phone 670 723 3725
E-mail: info@jsmp.minihub.org
Website: http://www.jsmp.minihub.org

UN situation Report

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA)
Date: 09 Aug 2006

Timor-Leste: Population Displacement OCHA Situation Report No. 15

This report is based on information received from the United Nations
Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), UN Agencies, international NGOs and media
sources.
SITUATION

1. East Timor’s Council of State agreed on 31 July to a second 30-day
extension of the “state of emergency” first declared by President Xanana
Gusmão on May 30 to address the country’s spiral of violence.

2. There has been resurgence in violent activity in Dili over the
reporting week. The return of youths from the East of the country to Dili
might have acted as an immediate catalyst for trouble with westerners.
Tension is also fuelled by deep resentments regarding the continued
imprisonment of Maj Alfredo, the leader of the ‘Petitioners’ exacerbated
by rumour and insinuations. The UN remains at security Phase III.

3. IDPs in camps are targeted by the recent violence with groups of youths
throwing stones at IDPs or threatening them with knifes, machetes or sling
shots. Increased police patrols have made over 90 arrests over the last
weekend alone but security has not been fully restored. Some of the youth
seek refuge in IDP camps to attack people passing by the camps.

4. The International Police forces have commenced 24-hour Police response
patrols and operations within Dili, with the Portuguese Military Police
(GNR) rapid reaction response and also Joint Task Force (JTF) back up
available. There are currently over 500 International Police in Dili. The
police report that they are carrying out numerous arrests and that the
troublemakers have an increasing readiness to confront the international
police and are less and less afraid. There are fears that the violence
might continue at this level in peaks and troughs. Aid workers working in
camps have not been targeted so far.

5. It is estimated that about 72,000 people are receiving food aid in Dili
camps as of early August. It is not clear how many IDPs are still in the
districts with host families or in camps outside of Dili, including in
Baucau. There are many reasons why IDPs have not yet voluntarily returned
home. The principal one is that the IDPs do not believe that the root
causes of the conflict including land and property disputes, have been
resolved. Furthermore, damage to the residential areas, continuing
East/West divide, and rumours of illegal weapons still unaccounted for
adds to the sense of insecurity. Therefore only few have returned to Dili
from the districts, leaving part of the family (women/children), behind
while others overnight in IDP camps while accessing their day jobs in
Dili. Other families are awaiting more favourable conditions before they
return, postponing their movement even until after the elections,
scheduled for May 2007.

6. The aid community is concerned that the government might expedite the
return of IDPs to their areas of origin or might wish to empty some camps
from where youth groups are creating disturbances; the Humanitarian
Coordinator is strongly engaging with the Prime Minister and the police
force to ensure that the principle of voluntary return is adhered to and
that viable solutions are proposed to IDPs before they move out of camps.

7. On 4 August, Australia announced reduction of their troop strength in
Timor-Leste, which will not affect the military capability to respond to
police calls for assistance. Similarly, Malaysia is planning to pull out
most of its 200 troops by the end of the month.

8. On 2 August, President Gusmão held a meeting with 18 NGOs. The group
discussed how to bring together youths from east and west to assist in
reintegrating IDPs and creating dialogue across the country.

RESPONSE

9. Three camps in Dili have been assessed as having very poor drainage and
sanitation and it would be extremely difficult to bring them up to SPHERE
standards before the rainy season. The Ministry of Labour assisted by
agencies is looking at proposing to the IDPs sheltered in those camps
three options: return home, relocation to other camps or setting up of an
emergency camp.

10. UNICEF together with Concern, CRS, Plan, and local NGOs recently
concluded a rapid assessment of the water and sanitation situation in the
districts hosting the IDPs. The survey recommended immediate distribution
of water/sanitation and hygiene kits and jerry cans, regular water quality
monitoring, hygiene education and latrine construction works. As a follow
up, the government’s water and sanitation services were assisted in
delivering water to Baucau District, sheltering more than 25,000 displaced
people. In addition, 5,000 hygiene kits will be distributed to the
districts in the near future.

11. The ICRC and Timor-Leste Red Cross Society (CVTL) are helping families
in the capital and districts of Timor-Leste to locate their family members
they lost contact with because of the recent events. Notices have been
posted in camps, churches, and other sites where displaced families are
staying, to make them aware of the available Red Cross tracing service. 94
inquiries related to the unrest have been collected since April 28, 2006:
33 of them have been resolved to date and efforts to solve the other cases
are being pursued.

12. As the political instability contiues, aid agencies fear that
malnutrition might increase, affecting even more children. Before this
year’s crisis, Timor-Leste was already the most undernourished country in
the Asia-Pacific region: Almost half of the children below age of five
were underweight, with 15 per cent severely underweight. In order to
identify children who are malnourished in the current emergency, the
nutritional assessment of children under 5 years of age was conducted by
UNICEF in 52 camps in Dili district. This assessment found that 122 were
moderately malnourished and seven were severely malnourished. Malnutrition
was most common in the 6-18 month age group, with children in this age
bracket accounting for 65 per cent of all cases. UNICEF is now
distributing WFP corn-soya blend (CSB) and oil and sugar rations for
supplementary feeding of malnourished children identified in the
screening. Basic nutrition education and cooking demonstrations using the
CSB are being conducted in the camps.

13. CARE International in Timor Leste conducted Gender Awareness Training
for Camp Managers and volunteers in 24 Dili IDP camps. The purpose of this
training was to introduce a set of tools developed to support Camp
Management in understanding the gender dimensions of their work in IDP
camps and foster greater participation of IDP women and men in all aspects
of camp management through decision-making and direct involvement. Follow
up activities will include working with Camp Managers in the establishment
of participatory consultation mechanisms in the 15 IDP camps where CARE is
working directly as SLS, and the dissemination of the findings to all
Agencies and Organizations involved in the humanitarian response.

14. The government has indicated its commitment to support reconstruction
of around 1,000 houses and buildings completely or partially destroyed in
Dili and the districts during the April-May incidents. UNDP through its
project ‘Urgent Damage Assessment and Recovery Planning’ will provide
technical support to the government to carry out a reliable and unbiased
assessment of the destruction and to develop a detailed plan for quick
recovery activities. On the basis of the assessment, the project will
identify the most affected population and communities requiring priority
assistance, conduct a conflict resolution needs assessment and identify
appropriate sites for the reconstruction of houses and buildings as well
as relocation of the affected part of the population not willing to return
to their old neighbourhoods. Assistance to the government will also be
provided for development of a comprehensive recovery plan.

16. In a media statement released on 28 July, UNICEF strongly condemned
the manipulation of children after some of them were seen holding banners
in the front line of a demonstration outside Dili Police station. UNICEF
called upon leaders of the nation and also parents and the community to
take immediate actions to stop the alleged exploitation of children.

17. As a follow up of the interagency Rapid-Joint Assessment in the
districts, District-based Emergency Food Security Assessment will be
conducted by agencies working on food security during 8 August — 18
September to identify the key risks faced by households vulnerable to food
insecurity as a result of this crisis, taking into account the underlying
baseline of food insecurity and poverty. This will provide further
information on food security programs and policy choices. It also
contributes to the understanding of people’s current vulnerability status
and how this may change in response to various crises for contingency
planning. The survey aims to cover 1,380 completely randomly selected
households in 12 districts.

18. The Government of Norway has announced on 31 July a USD 1 million
contribution to the UNDP supported ‘Justice System Programme’ for the
period 2006-2009. The USD 10 million project aims to increase
institutional capacities in the governmental, judicial and prosecution
branches of the justice sector.

OCHA is in close contact with the UN Country Team and UNOTIL in Dili and
will revert with further information as it becomes available. This
situation report, together with further information on ongoing
emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at
http://www.reliefweb.int.

European Parliament resolution on East Timor 14-6-2006

European Parliament resolution on East Timor
The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on East Timor,

– having regard to the statement on East Timor made by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on 31 May 2001,

– having regard to the briefing given by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the Security Council (5432nd meeting),

– having regard to Rule115 of its Rules of Procedure

A. whereas the country has been torn by violence since the dismissal in April of nearly 600 soldiers, a third of the total armed forces; and whereas on 28-29 April an armed confrontation between the armed forces and the dismissed troops and supporting civilians caused a disputed number of fatalities,

B. whereas, following the unrest, riots and violence from gangs, many people have been killed, many more wounded, and tens of thousands of panicked residents have fled the capital and remain in the surrounding hills or have been displaced under the protection of the Church, the UN or embassies,

C. whereas, according to UN information, soldiers opened fire on unarmed police officers on 25 May 2006, killing nine and wounding 27 others,

D. whereas the political instability in East Timor is continuing, despite the resignation of the Interior Minister and the Defence Minister and other efforts made and measures adopted by the East Timorese authorities,

E. whereas protesters have been demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri,

F. whereas the deterioration in the dramatic security and political crisis has led the East Timorese authorities to request foreign troops to help control wanton violence and restore law and order,

G. encouraging the efforts undertaken by President Xanana Gusmão and Senior Minister Ramos Horta on behalf of the government, seeking the return of political and social stability, including talks with representatives of dismissed soldiers and police officers and agents who left their organisational structures in the presence of UN observers,

H. whereas the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has reported more than 100 000 displaced persons who were uprooted in recent weeks as a result of the turmoil sparked by the dismissal of a third of the armed forces and the fragmentation of the police force, and furthered by gang violence,

I. whereas the mandate of the UN mission in East Timor (currently UNOTIL), once numbered some 11,000 troops and civilian staff, but scaled back to 130 staff members, police and military advisers, is due to expire on 20 June, having been extended by the UN Security Council last May just for one month, despite the UN Secretary-General proposal that it should have been prolonged for one year;