Monthly Archives: September 2007

Xanana authorised Railos’s freedom of movement

Diário National Newspaper – 28th September 2007, Dili, Timor Leste, page 12.

[Direct Translation from Tetum by FRETILIN Department of Information and Mobilisation (DEPIM-F)]

FRETILIN presents a “Circulation Pass” to The National Parliament

Paulo Martins: “I signed it”

Yesterday, at an extraordinary Parliamentary session on Friday 27th September 2007, Member of
FRETILIN’s Parliamentary bench, Elizário Ferreira presented a Circulation Pass (Guia de Marcha) to the National Parliament which was signed by the then President of the Republic Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao (now Prime Minister) and the former Commander of the Timor-Leste National Police Force (PNTL), Paulo Martins. The Circulation Pass requests protection and freedom of movement to Vicente da Conceicao ‘Railos’ to carry out official duties during the crisis.

After the Plenary session, Elizário spoke with journalists and stated that he raised the Circulation Pass issue in Parliament to clarify if the letter was factual because FRETILIN’s parliamentary bench found the letter on the internet. “We found the Circulation Pass on the internet and we thought that it could be a forged document that’s why I decided to present it to the Plenary to confirm whether or not it is true. One of the signatures belongs to Paulo Martins, a Member of Parliament, who confirmed the letter is true, that they signed it and that it was given to Railos” Elizário said.

Elizário stated that MP Paulo Martins said that they gave this letter to Railos in order to carry out a cantonment in Laulara. Elizário stated that as a result of this letter, we can say that it allowed impunity and opportunity for Railos to walk freely so as to burn houses, steal people’s belongings, intimidate people in Liquica, destroy people’s belongings and the freedom to move freely around this country.

“These things shouldn’t occur in this country. If Paulo Martin’s response is true in relation to the
Circulation Pass issued to Railos, then it means that there was no respect for Law and Justice. Dr Mari Alkatiri was still Prime Minister on the 29th May 2006 and had the authority to resolve the issues raised by the petitioner’s and Railos’s case. At that time it was a Government issue, so why didn’t the President of the Republic co-ordinate with Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri before issuing the Circulation Pass?

Instead, he issued this letter with Mr. Paulo Martins who was then the Commander of the Timor-Leste National Police Force” Elizário stated.

According to the FRETILIN MP, this Circulation Pass clearly provides great impunity to Railos. The
Circulation Pass states “We ask all entities not to impede our brother Railos’s movements and his
associates because they are carrying out official duties.” This letter was issued on the 29th May 2006 and signed by the then President of the Republic Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, Commander of the Timor-Leste National Police Force Paulo Martins and Vicente de Conceicao ‘Railos.’

“What sort of official duties were Railos and his group carrying out? Was the shooting at Taci Tolu on the 24th May an official duty? Or the intimidation of people in Liquica an official duty?” Elizário
questioned.

“This letter clearly shows where the crisis originated. Mr. Paulo Martins admitted that they wrote the letter.” Elizário said.

I also signed it

The former Commander of the Timor- Leste National Police Force, who is now a CNRT Member of
Parliament, said that Railos went to Balibar to meet the President of the Republic Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao to inform him about what happened on the 24th May 2006.

“I think at that moment the President of the Republic, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, issued the Circulation Pass which I also signed to Railos with the intention of reorganising his elements to come to Balibar.

Secondly, the intention was to give protection to Railos’s life because he was one of witnesses” said Paulo Martins.

Paulo said that they didn’t issue the Circulation Pass to Railos with the intention to kill people, burn houses or to destroy and intimidate people. “If this was the case, I would not have had the courage to sign the Circulation Pass. Everybody knows where Railos came from and who formed Railos (group)” he said.

Although everyone knew that Dr Mari Alkatiri was in charge of the Government, Paulo Martins said that he signed the “Circulation Pass” without consulting Mari Alkatiri because at that time the situation did not permit him to do so. “I did not consult Mari Alkatiri because the situation did not allow me to do so, but I also believe that the measures taken by the President of the Republic Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao at that time were right and didn’t harm anyone. It was only to protect Railos and his group to restrict him in order to avoid him going elsewhere” Paulo Martins said.

The CNRT Member of Parliament also said that the Circulation Pass which was given to Railos was only valid for the period that Railos needed to organise his members to go to Balibar.

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SMALL ISLAND STATES, LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES SEEK URGENT COLLECTIVE ACTION BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO

JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, President of Timor-Leste,
discussing the political situation in his
country, said that in April and May of last year,
less than five years after Timor-Leste’s
accession to full independence, the country had
been plunged into its first major crisis. At
that time, the President, the Speaker of the
Parliament and the Prime Minister had decided to
request urgent assistance from the United Nations
and the rapid intervention of friendly
countries. He thanked all those that had come to
his country’s aid, including Malaysia, Australia,
New Zealand and Portugal. The Security Council
had approved the deployment of the United Nations
Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

He said that significant progress had been made
since those “dark weeks”. Presidential and
legislative elections had been held this past
spring. The election period had been mostly
violence-free, and few irregularities had been
reported. At the same time, while the elections
results had been welcome, the announcement of the
new Government had met with some resistance. The
former ruling party, the Revolutionary Front for
an Independent East Timor, won most of the votes,
but not enough to govern on its own.

After several weeks of lobbying, the former
ruling party failed to form a coalition, he
said. A post-election four-party parliamentary
alliance opposed to the Revolutionary Front for
an Independent East Timor secured 37 seats in the
new 65-seat Parliament, and had been invited to
form the Government. Subsequently, there had
been violence in a number of locations, in which
law enforcement entities had been implicated, but
swift United Nations Police and International
Security Forces intervention had brought the
situation quickly under control. Adding that
Timor-Leste’s defence force had played its role
in defusing the situation, he also acknowledged
that the Revolutionary Front for an Independent
East Timor leadership had also helped the
situation by restraining their more passionate followers.

He went on to say that law and order had been
restored, but the relative tranquillity was
precarious. That would remain so until
Timor-Leste’s police force could be reconstructed
and turned into a credible and effective
force. He said that would take a minimum of two
to five years, but meanwhile, the Timorese
Government would continue the national dialogue,
so as to heal the wounds of the past.

He and other senior Government officials had
established a high-level mechanism to address
security sector reform. An expert team of
national and international advisors currently
interface with UNMIT’s own security sector reform
group. The shared goal was to ascertain a sound
strategy for the appropriate reform of
Timor-Leste’s police force and the development of its defence forces.

On the social situation, he said that the 2006
crisis had sparked widespread looting and
destruction in the capital, Dili. More than 30
people died, some 30 had been wounded and tens of
thousands had been displaced. “We are slowly
recovering, however,” he said, adding that the
Government was nevertheless concerned about the
situation of hundreds of thousands of people
living in “precarious” camps in and around
Dili. On related issues, late rains last year,
floods and a locust plague had significantly
damaged the agricultural sector. As a result,
the Government anticipated an acute food shortage
in the coming months and was planning to purchase
significant amounts of food items from regional
markets to fill the expected gaps.

He said that, as of July, Timor-Leste’s petroleum
fund had accumulated more than $1.4
billion. Monthly revenues of some $100 million
were being deposited into the fund, but that had
not translated into any visible improvement in
the lives of the poor. Among other positive
steps, the new Government had accepted his fiscal
reform proposal to turn Timor-Leste into a
tax-free country. However, those and other
initiatives were not enough to improve the living
standards of the people, the vast majority of
whom had been poor for centuries, and, therefore,
could not — and should not — wait.

Having pledged to be the “President of the Poor”,
he said he intended to be their best
advocate. Towards that goal, he was
establishing, among other instruments, a
fast-track mechanism to provide direct assistance
to individuals, groups and rural
communities. With that initiative, coupled with
public investment in infrastructure and the
agriculture sector, Timor-Leste should see, in
the medium-term, a significant reduction in unemployment and poverty levels.

He said his Government was aware that the
international community faced several threats
that could be considered more critical than the
current situation in his country. At the same
time, he hoped that the United Nations would
consider longer-term engagement to help further
stabilize the situation in Timor-Leste, as well
as help strengthen national institutions and consolidate peace and democracy.

Turning to other issues, he expressed concern and
disappointment at current events in Myanmar. He
also expressed concern that the Asian region was
the most weaponized region in the world, and
stressed that its scientists had “Frankenstein
monsters” — nuclear weapons — “that can destroy
us all”. He called on those nations to dismantle
those dangerous weapons as soon as
possible. Finally, he applauded the Assembly for
finally adopting last week the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Timor Telecom High Prices

Lidia

Maybe if Timor Telecom paid pulsa vendors a fair price for their work that would stop the practise of adding extra to the card – but as poor Timor Telecom have such small profits, even when they charge the highest price for phone calls in the world can’t see them paying the vendors for their work.

By the way when I was in Timor-Leste, someone in Timor Telecom’s office tried to charge me more for a card, he said ‘because of the emergency situation’ said I would pay the price on the card, he smiled and agreed.

Lidia Tindle
Tyneside Timor Solidarity.

>Tumbleweed: Timor Telecom warning

>
>
> Tumbleweed in Timor Lorosae
>
>
> “Timor Telecom warning message/ Price of recharge is printed in the
> card. Please do not pay more.” This beeped into our cells at
> lunchtime today. For those still scratching their heads over why the
> message, it’s because the pulsa sellers have been charging 25 to 75
> cents more for every $5 recharge card they sell. Last night when we
> drove by Acait, the cards were going for $5.25, then at Audian it was
> $5.50. Today a colleague went around town and concluded that $5.25
> was the lowest $5 card being sold, $5.75 being the highest!
> Thankfully, the price for the $10 are still the same. More than a
> year ago, I asked a pulsa vendor his profit on every phone card, i
> think it’s 10 cents for every $15 card they sold so i can’t imagine
> how much they can earn on a $5 card! No wonder these guys are upping
> the price, and obviously this has reached TT’s ears. It’s the same
> isn’t it in Indonesia? The streetside pulsa vendors also charge
> extra. Actually, the same has already happened in Baucau and Lautem (
> and perhaps other districts) when phonecards are more difficult to
> come by. Now, this price hike on the $5 card seems to have become a
> consensus across Dili, so how can we “not pay more?” Only 1 choice,
> buy a $10 card. But if you only have so few dollars in your pocket,
> you just have no choice but to concede another $0.25 to the vendor or
> spend $0.20 travelling to TT’s office to get the originally-priced cards.
>
> http://timorsunshine.blogspot.com/2007/09/timor-telecom-warning-message-price-of.html

TL NGO statement in solidarity with Burma

Joint Statement

Timor-Leste NGOs in Solidarity of Peaceful
Demonstrations Led by Buddhist Monks in Burma –
Urging Government to Enter into Dialogue

We, representatives of Timor-Leste Human Rights
NGOs express our deepest solidarity in the spirit
of human rights with the peaceful and holy
movement initiated by Buddhist Monks and joined
by many Burmese citizens, who have been holding
peaceful demonstrations exercising their right to
freedom of opinion and expression for several
days now in different places in the country.

We are very concerned about media reports that
the Government has now used force in response to
the demonstrations, that demonstrators have been
beaten and that two persons might have been
killed. We strongly condemn this brutal crackdown
to stop this peaceful demonstration and urge the
Government to enter into dialogue with its
population, and to allow the UN Special Envoy
immediate and free access to the country.

We support statements by the UN as well as the
international community including the Timor-Leste
Government strongly condemning the violence in
Burma. We appeal to ASEAN and the Chinese
Government, to intervene in whatever manner
possible, to urge the Burmese government to show
utmost restraint and avoid the recurrence of the
pain and suffering resulting from its actions in
1988, now almost 20 years ago. We call on ASEAN
and all its members, in the true spirit of being
an association of nations, to act immediately and
not to consider the recent development in Burma
as Burma´s internal matter only.

The current events in Burma remind us, Timorese,
starkly of the struggle for human rights we went
through in our recent history. We never forget
the international solidarity shown in the past
around the world for the plight of the Timorese.
We know that the use of violence and oppression
never leads to genuine lasting stability and
peace. The voices of the Burmese people urgently
need to be heard. We therefore appeal to the
Burmese government to immediately release the
leader of the National League for Democracy, Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi and engage in talks with a view
to ultimately finding a long-term solution to the
important issues Burma is facing today, and that is just for all its people.

Timor-Leste, 27 September 2007

For release and for further information
Contact: Joao Pequinho (Hp. (+670) 724 2099)

This statement has been signed by:

FORUM TAU MATAN – EYES ON HUMAN RIGHTS (FTM)
La’o Hamutuk – The Timor-Leste Institute for
Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
East Timor Reflection Network (ETCRN)
Grupo Feto Foinsae Timor Leste (GFFTL)
Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP)
East Timor Insight – Research Laboratory
Konfederasaun Sindikatu Timor-Leste (KSTL)
Alola Foundation
KATILOSA – Disability Support Program
HAK Association
Pat Walsh (Individual)
Rogerio Vicente (individual)
Amelia de Araujo (individual).

Indonesian military must take responsibility for 1999 violence: witness

DILI, Sept 26 (AFP) — An East Timorese who was a pro-Indonesia activist during the tiny nation’s 1999 independence vote said Wednesday that Indonesia’s military should be held responsible for violence occurring then.

Fransisco de Carvalho Lopes, who now holds Indonesian citizenship, was the only Indonesian to testify at the fifth and final round of hearings of the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) here.

Other sessions have been held in Indonesia.

The CTF has no prosecution powers but has a mandate to uncover the truth behind the 1999 violence that left some 1,400 people dead as Indonesian-backed militias wreaked havoc across the former Portuguese colony.

During Indonesia’s 24-year rule, Lopes belonged to two pro-Indonesian groups that organised public figures backing Jakarta’s administration, as well as the militias that unleashed the unrest when East Timor voted to break away.

“I think that all the people of Timor-Leste agree with what I say. That is, TNI (the Indonesian armed forces) must take responsibility for all unrest and the scorched earth policy in Timor-Leste,” Lopes told journalists after testifying to the commission, referring to the nation by its formal name.

He said that as the military was only an organ of the state, the Indonesian government should also take the blame for the violence.

“I think that there should be an international tribunal… because the ad hoc tribunal was incapable of providing justice, and truth was not established,” he said, referring to an Indonesian tribunal that tried several Indonesians over the violence but acquitted all but one.

Justice for the 1999 violence “is what we, the little people, want,” he said.

Both governments however have taken a reconciliatory stance since East Timor finally became independent in 2002. East Timorese leaders argue that good relations between the fledgling republic and its giant and more powerful neighbour are crucial to its future.

The United Nations has criticised the mandate of the CTF and refused to let its officials testify, saying it should not issue amnesties for those responsible for human rights crimes.

The CTF commissioners are set to draft recommendations to Jakarta and Dili when this week’s hearings end.

Truth body told poverty fueled militias in Timor Leste

The Jakarta Post
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ati Nurbaiti, The Jakarta Post, Dili

A former pro-integration leader told a public hearing here Wednesday that many Timorese civilians were forced by poverty to join pro-Indonesian militias.

“There was money,” said Fransisco Lopes De Carvalho.

“People didn’t have to go to the fields, there was rice, it was very good,” Carvalho told the fifth public hearing of the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship.

Once they were in the militias, they were told they had an enemy: the independence movement.

It was difficult to choose not to kill fellow Timorese as ordered, said Carvalho, founder of the Barisan Rakyat (People’s Front) pro-integration militia.

If a person left the militia, he would die, Carvalho said.

“If he did not want to kill he’d be given ‘mad dog’ pills,” he said.

There were reports during the violence in East Timor of militia members being given drugs to encourage them to kill.

“Then when you kill, you land in jail,” Carvalho said, pointing to convict Johny Marques in the audience.

Marques, a former leader of the Alfa militia, testified earlier in the morning that he was under the influence of drugs when he led the killing of nuns and priests in Los Palos in September 1999.

“I know I shouldn’t have done it,” Marques said, “but it was my body’s reaction to the drugs. I felt hot, I was so bent on killing someone.”

Carvalho drew laughter from onlookers as he dropped the names of Indonesian Military officers in his testimony. At one point, he said he never received millions of promised rupiah after signing a proposal to have civilians armed at a five-star hotel in Jakarta.

“Until now I have never received the audit report on the funds,” he said, referring to the current practice of accountability in Indonesia and Timor Leste.

He also claimed to have received Rp 3 million from the former commander of the Wira Dharma Military Resort overseeing East Timor, Col. Tono Suratman.

“It is a sin to steal and a sin to reject an offer, so I took the money, of course after making the sign” of the cross, Carvalho said.

Along with other officers Tono was acquitted by Indonesia’s ad hoc human rights court of charges of crimes against humanity in East Timor.

Similar to the testimony of former militia leader Tomas A. Goncalves on Tuesday, Carvalho also referred to the distribution of weapons to civilians by Indonesian Military members and the provision of training.

Carvalho submitted a number of documents to the CTF, including certificates presented to militia trainees signed by then Udayana Military Command chief Maj. Gen. M. Simbolon.

He expressed confusion that East Timor’s militias comprised not only former village security guards but also members of the Indonesian Military.

“How come they were never punished?” he said.

Marques, who is serving a 33-year jail sentence, testified he carried out the murders without the knowledge of his civilian and military superiors, “who had all left before the murders”.

However, he questioned why, “for the sake of friendship between the two nations, Alfa team members like myself are the only ones chased for accountability”.

The Indonesian government, he said, should be held responsible for the violence in East Timor.

Carvalho urged the CTF to recommend the violence in East Timor be handed over to an international tribunal, saying the judicial process in both Indonesia and Timor Leste had failed.

“We want to be friends but no one is saying they are wrong,” he said.

The CTF will review all testimony, research and documents before it completes its report in January.

Carvalho also asked that the CTF and both governments guaranteed his safety, saying he wanted to return to Timor Leste after years spent in Central Java.

“Please accept me,” he said.

Reports from East Timor’s media

National Media Reports

ONGTL, conducting alternative public hearing against CTF

Non-Government Organizations of Timor-Leste (ONGTL) on 28-29 September will conduct alternative public hearings against the CTF.

“We will conduct the alternative public hearings because during public hearings conducted in Indonesia, the Commission of truth and Friendship (CTF) considered that all the witnesses are always good. We see that the witnesses who provided their statements for the public hearings have a tendency towards manipulation. We want to re-conduct these to find out the truth between the two nations. We will be involving victims, both from Indonesia and Timor-Leste because they are only blaming militias and not Indonesia military,” said Xisto dos Santos, the coordinator of Students’ Front of Timor-Leste and Administrative Council of National Alliance for International Tribunal (ANTI) on Wednesday (26/9) at the National University, Dili.

Mr. Dos Santos also said that public hearings of CTF tended towards manipulation as compared to the Expert Commission of UN who conducted its investigation in Timor-Leste. He also stated that the CTF work is to give amnesty to the criminal actors and not to find out the truth. (TP and DN)

Alkatiri: US$61M for three months might create corruption

Former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said that the transitional fund of the Alliance government will create a broad way for corruption because he considers the amount to be too much to use in only three months.

“If this big money is the investment capital to build bridges and roads there might be no questions. So this amount of money should be spent carefully,” said Mr. Alkatiri. (DN)

Fernanda Borges: NP attributed to principles of international law

MP from National Unity Party (PUN), Fernanda Borges said that the national parliament will stand for the principles of international law because the Timorese constitution forces the MPs to do so.

Ms. Fernanda also said that if amnesty is granted to the criminals, then there will be impunity and anybody could do anything. (DN)

MPs worried about the mission of CTF

Indonesia and Timor-Leste’s CTF is worried because it appears to be dominated by politics.

“I am a little worried because the CTF has established itself upon political tendency and not upon finding the truth,” said Cecilio Caminha, MP from CNRT in the National Parliament on Wednesday (26/9).

Mr. Caminha also said that in reviewing the Terms of Reference, the CTF aims to find out the truth based on the public hearings, but the final result will be rely upon the writing by the Commissaries of the Commission. (STL)

International Media Reports

PNG is ranked 84th in ease of doing business

By FRANK ASAELI

PAPUA New Guinea ranks 84th among the 178 economies in terms of ease of doing business, according to the World Bank Group’s latest report – Doinng Business 2008.

And the country lagged behind Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Palau, according to the document that investigates the regulations affecting business activity.

Notably, PNG is right behind China, which is at number 83.

The document was launched yesterday by the Development Co-operation Centre (DCD) at the World Bank Country Office (PNG).

While the report said the Pacific region remained one of the most business-friendly, it showed an overall decline in ease of doing business in the Pacific island countries, with most economies failing in their performance last year.

The report said Fiji was the best performing Pacific country at spot 36 while Timor Leste had the poorest business climate at 168th.

The report, however, noted that the Pacific had special disadvantages which were not measured by the Doing Business indicators, such as distance from markets and smallness of domestic economies.

The rankings are based on 10 indicators of business regulation that tracked the time and cost to meet government requirements in business start-up, operation, trade, taxation, and closure.

“The report finds that equity returns are highest in countries that are reforming the most,” World Bank vice president for Financial and Private Sector Development Michael Klein said.

Co-sponsored by the World Bank and the International Finance Corp (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, the Doing Business report gave policymakers the ability to measure regulatory performance in comparison to other countries, learn from global best practices and prioritize reforms.

This is an annual publication that investigates global regulations that enhance business activity and those that constrain it, ranking countries on their ease of doing business.

“The indicators are used to analyze economic and social outcomes, such as informality, corruption, unemployment, and poverty.”

The rankings do not reflect such areas as macroeconomic policy, quality of infrastructure, currency volatility, investor perceptions or crime rates.

Top reformers are identified and best practices in how to reform are highlighted.

The launch linked seven locations in the region via videoconferencing including Sydney, Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Port Moresby, Singapore and Tokyo and the main launch session followed by a more local discussion session with Sydney and Timor Leste.

NATIONAL NEWS SOURCES:

Timor Post (TP)
Radio Timor-Leste (RTL)
Suara Timor Lorosae (STL)
Diario Tempo (DT)
Diario Nacional (DN)
Semanario
Televisaun Timor-Leste (TVTL)