Australian troops provoke more unrest in Timor Leste



Media release
20 August 2007

Australian troops provoke more unrest in Timor Leste

Australian troops in Timor Leste have inflamed an already volatile
situation by tearing up FRETILIN flags and wiping their backsides with
it, FRETILIN Vice President and MP Arsenio Bano said today.

“The trashing of FRETILIN flags is yet another demonstration of the
partisan nature of the Howard government’s military intervention in
Timor Leste,” Bano said.

He said the incidents occurred in the eastern part of the country on
18 August, at two separate locations – Suco (administrative region)
Walili on the road between Baucau and Viqueque and in the village of
Alala in Viqueque district – where villagers had raised the FRETILIN
flag in protest against the unconstitutional government of Jose
Alexandre Gusmao.

“At Walili two Australian military vehicles full of soldiers tore up a
FRETILIN flag which had been raised at the roadside, wiped their
backsides with it and drove off with the flag. The stolen flag was
returned by an Australian army captain later that day.

“In Alala village Australian troops tried to sever a FRETILIN flag
from its rope and then drove over it.

“We condemn these extremely provocative actions which have inflamed an
already volatile situation. The FRETILIN flag has enormous symbolic
and emotional value to the people of Timor-Leste which extends beyond
FRETILIN’s members and supporters.

“Tens of thousands of people died fighting under this flag during the
struggle for independence, including family members of the people who
witnessed its trashing on Saturday.

“The Australian soldiers have insulted our martyrs and the entire East
Timorese people. Their cultural insensitivity and arrogance typifies
Australian military operations in the Pacific region.”

Bano said the incidents could not be excused as the actions of
misguided individual soldiers.

“The soldiers take their cue from their officers who understand the
true objectives of the Howard government’s partisan intervention in
Timor-Leste, which has had one overriding aim – the removal of the
democratically elected FRETILIN government and its replacement with
the illegitimate government of Jose Alexandre Gusmao.”

For more information, please contact:

Arsenio Bano (+670) 733 9416, FRETILIN Media (+670) 733 5060 or


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