Monthly Archives: October 2007

Rai’los arrested in Timor Leste

Peter Murphy

October 2007 SEARCH NEWS

The violence surrounding the appointment of the
new Gusmao government in early August declined,
with FRETILIN strenuously calling for calm amid
blame from many quarters that it was behind the
strife, mainly in Dili and eastern parts of the country.

FRETILIN has maintained its stance that the
Gusmao government is illegitimate because the
process of its appointment did not follow the
Constitution. FRETILIN predicts that it will not last its full term.

The focus is back to the parliament and the
media, as the Gusmao government struggled with
widespread perception that it had too many
pro-Indonesian figures involved, and concerns
about just what policies it would adopt.

Gil da Costa Alves, Minister for Commerce and
Industry, is most notable because he was
president of a textile and a salt company
associated with General Prabowo and close to
General Suharto. These were opened in 1997 by
Prabowo’s wife, Titiek, the second daughter of
Suharto. Alves also helped the instant coffee
company owned by Suharto’s first daughter and he
also managed the branch office of PTArha, the
alcohol label monopoly company of Suharto’s grandson, Ari Haryo Wibowo.

But Alves is more notorious as the spokesperson
for the Merah Putih (Red and White) militia after
they massacred 25 people inside the church at
Liquica on April 6, 1999. Alves argued that the militia were fired on first!

Prime Minister Gusmao presented his Government
Program, which combined the rhetoric of his
election campaign of denigration of the previous
FRETILIN government program, but largely maintained that program in the detail.

The discordant aspects were the promise of tax
cuts, which would mainly benefit the wealthy few,
interest in ‘competition’ in the area of mobile
and fixed line telecommunications and electricity
generation, and promotion of private schools.

In education, the Program calls for the Church
and NGOs to promote private schooling at all
levels as an alternative to public schooling. The
Program maintains existing commitments to free
meals, school books, transport, and scholarships
for poor students in secondary schools, and aims
to extend these to church schools and institutes
run by NGOs. It maintains existing commitment to Adult Basic Education.

In relation to the judiciary, which was one of
the biggest failures of the United Nations
administration, there is a call in the Program
for more administrative resources and more
‘coordination’ between the courts and the Justice Ministry.

In practice, this has been expressed by Justice
Minister Lucia Lobato’s interference with
judicial orders in relation to the prisoner,
Rogerio Lobato, a call for some international
judges to be sacked, and an effort to stop the
execution of the warrant for the arrest of rebel solider Alfredo Reinado.

Budget

Following the high-speed parliamentary debate and
vote on the Program, the Gusmao government put
forward an interim budget for the period July –
December 2007. Gusmao wants to switch from a
financial year to a calendar year for the national budget.

The budget was for US$112 million, but provided
no detail on how the funds would be spent. This
was voted through on October 6, 2007, with 38 in
favour, 20 against and two abstentions. Its most
controversial aspect was to take US$40 million
from the Petroleum Fund without first consulting
the Independent Petroleum Fund Consultative
Council, which is required by the law. FRETILIN
argued that since there remained US$119 million
unspent from previous budget votes, there was no
need to raid the Petroleum Fund this way.

The budget also created in the President’s Office
a Task Force to Combat Poverty, when poverty
reduction is a government task. On October 8, a
further US$4 million was added to the budget to
pay for new electricity generators, making a
total for the budget promotion of US$116 million.

On Friday 27 September 2007, FRETILIN MP Elizário
Ferreira presented a Circulation Pass (Guia de
Marcha) to the National Parliament. The pass,
dated May 29, 2006, was signed by the then
President of the Republic Xanana Gusmao (now
Prime Minister) and the former Commander of the
Timor-Leste National Police Force (PNTL), Paulo
Martins. The Pass requests protection and freedom
of movement to Vicente da Conceicao ‘Rai’los’ to
carry out official duties during the crisis.

Martins, now a CNRT MP, confirmed that the pass
was genuine, raising serious questions about the
role of the President in the violent upheaval
that broke out on May 23 last year. ABC TV 4
Corners relied heavily on Rai’los in its June 19
program last year, which President Gusmao then
used to demand the resignation of then Prime
Minister Alkatiri. 4 Corners backed Rai’los’
claim that he had been armed by then Interior
Minister Rogerio Lobato and Alkatiri on May 9 to create a ‘FRETILIN hit squad’.

A UN investigation into the violence found that
Rai’los led 31 fighters into ambushes of Timorese
soldiers at the army headquarters on May 24,
2006, during which nine people were killed.

Lobato’s trial later in 2006 found Railos’s group
had been supplied uniforms and weapons on
Lobato’s orders, but that there had been no ‘hit
squad’, and that Rai’los had been in telephone
contact with both Lobato and the President’s office prior to the May 24 attack.

Police arrested Rai’los at the seaside town of
Liquica after Mr Alkatiri, now a key opposition
leader, had publicly warned that if he was not
taken into custody Fretilin members would apprehend him themselves.

Rebel soldier Alfredo Reinado remains at large,
despite the ongoing warrant issued for his arrest.

SEARCH Foundation

FRETILIN Future challenges

FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE

FRETILIN

COMMUNIQUÉ

One Only Foundation, One Only Vision, One Only Party

From the 25th to the 28th of October 2007,
FRETILIN met in a National Retreat which was in
Fahi-Luhan, Suku Holarua, District of Manufahi (Same).

The theme for the retreat was Past, Present and
Future Challenges, and had the following specific objectives:

1. Undertake an analysis of the
Partys history, the affirmation of the goal of
constructing the Rule of Law and the consequences
of the coup plan against the FRETILIN government,
which commenced on the 4th of December 2002 up to
the crisis of 28 April 2006, and FRETILINs
position regarding the current government.

2. Debate the Partys
perspectives for the consolidation of the
Democracy and the Rule of Law, Sovereignty and
National Independence and Timor-Lestes relations
with South East Asia, principally Australia and
Indonesia, the Pacific, and the rest of the world.

During two days, Party representatives from
thirteen districts, together with the Political
Leadership debated the above mentioned issues and
analyzed the many challenges that the Party
confronts today, as well as its future challenges.

The many speeches during the retreat identified the following problems:

§ The need for an immediate readjustment
of the Partys grassroots structure;

§ The need for a review of the methods
for implementing decisions taken by the Central Bodies of the Party;

§ Systematic diffusion of information to
the public and mainly the members and supporters
of the Party at grassroots level;

§ The need to re-establish payments of
membership contributions, as already previously
decided, in accordance with the Party Statutes,
so as to guarantee the financial resources of the Party;

§ Increase the capacity of the
organization at grassroots level, where weak;

§ Develop Party activities in accordance
with the regulations and statutes of the Party;

§ Define a Plan of Action and Strategy to
respond to the current situation and guarantee
the defense of the national interest in
accordance with the Constitution of the RDTL;

§ Develop an environment of mutual trust
inside the Party to eliminate misunderstandings
between the leadership and the members;

§ Increase the capacity of the management
and membership through political training;

§ Increase the participation of women,
Veterans, Former Combatants in the political
activities of the Party, at all levels;

§ Within the context of advancing the
Second Struggle for National Liberation, increase
the patriotic conscience of the Maubere People;

§ Combat regionalist sentiments and
develop the sentiment for the Party.

During the two days the Leadership and the Party
representatives from thirteen districts, decided:

1. To hold open dialogue meetings in all districts to:

1.1 Consolidate the support base of
the Party (Clandestine Organizations, Former Combatants and Veterans);

1.2 Mobilize and organize a National
March for Peace, the Defence of Democratic
Rights, Justice, Freedom and National Integrity.

2. Recommend to the Party
leadership to decide formally on the
restructuring/readjustment of the party at middle and grassroots levels.

3. Recommend to the Party
Leadership, mainly the FRETILIN Central Committee
and the National Political Committee to emit a
Declaration that a future FRETILIN government
will not recognize and will review on a case by
case basis all international undertakings and
agreements, such as any eventual debts with the
World Bank, the IMF or other countries, which
compromise the sovereignty of the nation, for
exploration for oil and gas, and any others,
which the de facto government led by Jose
Alexandre Gusmao may enter into during the term
of its unconstitutional governance.

4. Appeals to all Party members
and the Maubere People to remain calm desist from
any form of violence which can lead to instability in Timor-Leste.

5. Solidify the existing
alliances with political forces such as the
Democratic Alliance (KOTA and PPT parties),
Timor-Leste Democratic Republican Party, Council
for Popular Defence Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and others.

6. Develop relations with
internal and external political forces who hold a common interest.

7. Unconditionally reaffirm and
support the appeal by the Party Leadership for National Peace and Stability.

Manufahi, 27 October 2007

Food of people not agri-business

Protests call for food sovereigntyAnnolies Truman
25 October 2007

Two thousand people rallied in the East Timorese capital of Dili on October 17 to demand food sovereignty for East Timor. The demonstration was the culmination of three days of activities to mark World Food Day.

The majority of the demonstrators were university students who joined farmers from different districts and sub-districts. Protesters marched to Parliament House and Government House, taking MPs and government officials by surprise.

The protesters continued on to the ministry of agriculture building, which a delegation of farmers representatives entered to present their demands to the minister. These included increasing production and supply of food through sustainable agriculture and government policies prioritising community autonomy, environmental stewardship and cultural integrity.

The demonstration was organised by HASATIL (Strengthen Sustainable Agriculture in Timor Leste), a network comprised of 27 local NGOs and farmer groups. It advocates for farmers rights and sustainable agricultural practices.

HASATILs representative in Australia, Ego Lemos, told Green Left Weekly that the demonstration was a success. A lot of people are very enthusiastic and impressed with the action, Lemos said. The number of demonstrators was significant and they represent the thinking of a large section of Timors population. Eighty per cent of the populations livelihood is based on agriculture. They want government agricultural policies that will benefit small farmers and not hurt the environment.

We are already alarmed at the effects of colonialism and neo-colonialism on our agricultural system.

East Timor was colonised first by Portugal and then Indonesia. Traditional agriculture, comprised of a variety of root crops and leafy vegetables, was partially replaced during the period of Indonesian rule by large areas of rice monoculture.

Lemos explained that soil and water pollution have been increasing since Indonesia introduced high-chemical-input farming methods, leading to pest resurgence and rising livestock and crop losses.

Since independence, farmers have been increasingly forced to compete in a free market economy. Farmers are becoming more dependent on external inputs, leading to less available income, he said.

With cheap agricultural imports from Australia and Indonesia growing annually, demand for local, more expensive produce is decreasing.

Lemos told GLW that large multinational corporations have been introducing genetically modified crops under the guise of research institutions, such as the International Research Rice Institute and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

There have been GM trials of Bt corn [corn modified to incorporate herbicide- and insect-resistant traits], for example. The corporations claim these are for research purposes, but there is no regulation; the government is weak. It is 100% possible to grow these crops commercially.

An official event took place in Dili on October 16, organised by the government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). World Food Day originated in 1945 to highlight access to food as a basic human right. However, since the event was launched, the number of people unable to regularly access sufficient, nutritionally adequate and culturally acceptable food has grown.

According to Chana Opaskornkvl, Dilis FAO chief, some 850 million people worldwide are going to bed hungry every night.

Speaking at the October 16 event, Opaskornkvl emphasised that the right to feed oneself in dignity, rather than the right to be fed­ highlighting a major issue in East Timor and across the underdeveloped world.

According to Lemos, food has been coming into East Timor as so-called aid with the ulterior purpose of creating dependency on foreign imports.

Fifty per cent of Timorese are still functionally illiterate, most of them living in rural areas. This combined with the poverty and dependency of our country makes our nation more vulnerable to exploitation by multinational companies.

President Jose Ramos-Horta gave a speech at the official event stressing market-oriented production. He recommended the government invest in road projects and other transportation infrastructure for farmers to access markets. Ramos-Horta also stated that East Timor will borrow money from International Monetary Fund (IMF) to develop the country. Protesters displayed banners with anti-World Trade Organisation messages, promoting local food and claiming food sovereignty is the way to resolve hunger and poverty.

Lemos stated, The government is keen on developing the country by borrowing money from the IMF and encouraging agri-businesses to invest in Timor Leste. This is really against our principles. We want people-centred and sustainable development.

In contrast to the official celebrations, HASATIL marked World Food Day with three days of activities throughout East Timor, including seminars and workshops focusing on food as a human rights issue, as well as the protests.

PNTL shootings

National Media Reports

Nuno Anaia’s testimony: PNTL disarmament had accord with Taur Matan Ruak
UNPol officer, Nuno Pasqual Anaia testified in the Dili District Court on Tuesday (23/10) that there was an accord between the Commander of the F-FDTL, Taur Matan Ruak, and UN Commander Reis and David Mann to disarm the PNTL officers.

“I know that Commander Reis made an accord Commander Taur Matan Ruak at the F-FDTL Headquarters to disarm the PNTL before walking to Obrigado Barracks. The information was provided through radio by Reis,” testified Anaia.

However, Commander Taur Matan Ruak told the Court on Tuesday (16/10) that he never made any accord with the UN Commander to disarm the PNTL.

“The UN representative explained to me that PNTL would  surrender and wanted to evacuate to Obrigado Barracks. I replied that we didn’t need any more shootings or to attack F-FDTL headquarters. We ommanded the F-FDTL to stop shooting, and it stopped,” said Taur Matan Ruak. (STL and DN)  

National Parliament recommends investigating Longuinhos
The National Parliament has recommended that the General Prosecutor, Longuinhos Monteiro be investigated in relation to an alleged political conversation with the former national parliament member Leandro Isaac.

MPs from CNRT, Fretilin and the Democratic Party (PD) agreed that the conversation impacts upon Longuinhos’ judicial indepdence.

“We need to pay attention to this case as Mr Longuinhos may or may not have had the conversation so we need to investigate,” said Cecilio Caminha from the CNRT.  

“We feel sad that this issue is now before the National Parliament. We ask the Court to investigate the case thoroughly,” said Arsenio Bano from Fretilin.

However Aderito Hugo a CNRT parliamentarian said that there is not strong enough evidence to investigate Mr Longuinhos. (TP)

Still not enough food for IDP’s

From WFP’s Operational Requirements, Shortfalls and Priorities for 2007
October 2007

http://www.wfp.org/appeals/Current_Shortfalls/documents/2007/White_Book_October_2007_Final.pdf

Timor-Leste
PRRO 10388.0 

Investing in People’s Future November 2004 – March 2008

Pipeline breaks over next 6 months (mt)

Cereals          Pulses           Blended Food    Oil      Other

4,726            802               980               266      182

Dec-07  Dec-07           Immediate        Jan-08   Immediate

The PRRO aims to provide safety nets to the most vulnerable groups through food for education, maternal and child health/supplementary feeding and general food distribution to communities hit by natural disasters, and assistance to IDPs affected by the recent crisis. WFP has been present in Timor-Leste since 1999.

  • Additional donor contributions are urgently needed to avoid pipeline breaks starting immediately.
  • WFP has resumed general food distributions to IDPs living in Dili camps for another three distribution cycles. WFP’s school feeding, maternal and child health and food-for-assets programmes will be increased to accommodate the needs of food-insecure people in the districts, including IDPs.

    Food was provided to approximately 65,000 IDPs in 54 camps in Dili, per the current distribution cycle, completed at the end of September. No major security incidents inside the camps occurred during the distribution. According to the current government food aid policy for IDPs, the next and last distribution cycle will commence on 1 October targeting approximately 70,000 IDPs.

  • WFP continues general food distribution (GFD) to IDPs as well as food-for-education and mother and child health activities. In the meantime, WFP, in consultation with the Government, is launching the implementation of food-for-asset activities in the seven most food-insecure districts with special emphasis on irrigation systems, feeder roads, and reclamation of agricultural land. Target groups are vulnerable groups in the district, including IDPs. WFP is planning to gradually phase out GFD to IDPs in Dili towards the end of the year.
  • Not Hands – wasn’t it rifle butts

    Defence denies bashing of East Timor men

    October 23, 2007 – 1:44PM

    AAP

    Claims that Australian soldiers in East Timor used rifle butts to
    repeatedly bash three Timorese civilians have been rejected by Defence.

    The soldiers dispersed a drunken brawl without laying a hand on those
    involved, Defence said.

    The allegations were released overnight by the political party
    Fretilin and highlight the ongoing ill-feeling East Timor’s former
    political masters direct towards the Australian-led International
    Stabilisation Force (ISF).

    The incident occurred on the night of Sunday, October 14 with claims
    of abuse first surfacing two days later.

    Australian commander Brigadier John Hutcheson subsequently responded
    through the East Timor media.

    But that did not settle the issue, with Fretilin now claiming
    Australian soldiers reacted aggressively because that area was
    considered a Fretilin stronghold and the shop where the incident
    occurred was flying a large Fretilin flag.

    Fretilin said security guard Abilio Fatima was on duty outside a food
    warehouse when six soldiers approached, directing him and his
    neighbours to go home.

    “Mr Fatima explained through a Tetum language interpreter attached to
    the soldiers that he was on duty, that regular police patrols never
    ordered him to leave his post, and asked why the soldiers were so
    concerned with ordinary civilians like him instead of with cases like
    Alfredo Reinado, the rebel soldier, and his armed group,” it said in
    a media statement.

    “Mr Fatima alleged that after he mentioned Reinado he was immediately
    struck with rifle butts many times in the head, upper arms and back,
    and then bitten on the right upper arm by a soldier’s guard dog. Two
    of his neighbours were also assaulted and fled to their homes.”

    The Australian Defence Force said nothing like this occurred.

    Rather, a routine patrol came across two youths fighting with a third
    watching, all obviously intoxicated.

    Told to go home, one of the fighting men abused the soldiers. He was
    restrained by one of the other men.

    “After about seven minutes, the intoxicated men left. At no time did
    the ISF soldier point their weapons at the men,” Defence said in a statement.

    “At no time did the ISF soldiers touch the men. At no time did an ISF
    working dog bite any of the men. The ISF working dog was at all times
    restrained on its lead.”

    Defence said the Fretilin allegations were totally false and
    misleading and the ISF rejected them completely.

    “The ISF has said many times before, if anyone has a concern about
    ISF operations, please tell them to the ISF and the ISF will
    immediately investigate,” it said.

    ——————————————————————————–

    [This message was distributed via the east-timor news list. For info on how to subscribe send a blank e-mail to info@etan.org. To support ETAN see http://etan.org/etan/donate.htm ]

    Coordinating the Environmental Agenda In T-L

    UNDP

    COORDINATING THE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA IN TIMOR-LESTE

    Dili, Timor-Leste, 22nd October 2007

    The Government of Timor-Leste has hailed the
    contribution of UNDP towards the country’s
    environmental programmes, saying its support has
    been instrumental in advancing the environmental
    agenda at the local and international levels.

    Terming the environment a strong pillar of
    “social and economic development upon which the
    new government will plan a sustainable future for
    the people of Timor-Leste, Mr. Rui Hajan, the
    Vice-Minister for Economy and Development,
    highlighted the strides the country has made in
    the environmental sphere including; the
    ratification of the three Rio Conventions;
    completion of the national report on land
    degradation and the signing by the Council of
    Ministers of the Kyoto Protocol. “The Government
    of Timor-Leste in close collaboration with the
    UNDP designed the National Plan for NCSA
    (National Capacity Self-Assessment) to be
    implemented by the line agencies,” the
    Vice-Minister said. He was speaking at the
    “Environmental Governance Support Programme –
    National Workshop on the Inter-Ministerial
    Working Group on Environmental Coordination and
    Natural Resource Management” held in Dili on 20 October 2007.

    The workshop coincided with the end of the
    Environmental Governance Support Programme (EGSP)
    started in 2005 which was funded by UNDP with a
    total budget of US $200,000. The overall
    objective of the EGSP was to enhance the
    Government’s capacity to develop and implement
    environmental governance structures. The
    project’s core components included supporting the
    accession to the Rio Conventions (ratified by
    National Parliament on 11th April, 2006);
    development of the National Capacity Self
    Assessment (funded by the Global Environmental
    Facility); supporting the setup of the
    Inter-Ministerial Working Group and developing a
    strategy plan to support sustainable use of marine resources.

    The event, attended by several Government
    dignitaries was described by Mr. Akbar Usmani,
    Country Director of the UNDP, as an opportunity
    for various agencies and the Government to
    discuss the environment’s importance in the
    country’s socio-development plans and the need
    for coordination between all actors to attain the
    international environmental and development goals
    the Government of Timor-Leste has committed
    itself to. “To achieve sustainable development,
    we need to establish a close link between
    environmental protection and socio-economic
    development,” said Mr. Usmani. He added that the
    implementation of the Rio Conventions “needs to
    become a part of the national planning framework,
    meaning that any future Government plans,
    independent of whether they directly address the
    issues contained in the conventions should always
    consider the need to achieve the targets agreed with the stakeholders.”

    In order to achieve this coordination, the
    Government presented two important new structures
    – the Inter-Ministerial Working Group on
    Environment and Natural Resource Management and
    the National Directorate for the Multi-lateral
    Environmental Agreements. In his remarks, the
    Secretary of State for Environment, Mr. Abilio de
    Jesus Lima, emphasised the importance of these
    coordinating mechanisms, noting that they will
    bring together all sectors and actors to work
    towards the common objective of environmental sustainability.

    Meanwhile, the National Director for Environment,
    Mr. Carlos Ximenes, made a presentation on the
    role of the new National Directorate. He said the
    institution will ensure that the obligations
    signed in the Rio Conventions are followed, and
    that the National Focal Points and others
    facilitating their implementation have a
    coordinating body. The workshop also provided an
    opportunity for the presentation of the National
    Capacity Development and Rio Conventions’ action
    plans. The National Capacity Development Action
    Plan identified the main capacity development
    priorities recommended at the individual,
    institutional and systemic level to enable the
    implementation of the Rio Conventions.

    The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
    is the UN’s global development network,
    advocating for change and connecting countries to
    knowledge, experience and resources to help
    people build a better life. It is on the ground
    in 166 countries, working with governments and
    people on their own solutions to global and
    national development challenges. As they develop
    local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP
    and its wide range of partners that can bring about results.

    http://www.tl.undp.org/undp/newsroom/News/news4.html

    Bugs and double standards

    Subject: STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT BY FRETILIN MEMBERS

    STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT BY FRETILIN MEMBERS
    ARSENIO BANO, CIPRIANA PEREIRA AND OSORIO FLORINDO

    (Dili, 23rd of October 2007)

    Good Morning Mr. President and Distinguished Members one and all.

    We the following members undersigned wish to
    raise the following in relation to two issues:

    A.      With regard to the statements by the
    President of the Republic is response to FRETILIN
    statement to the parliament more than one week
    ago in relation to the call for the dismissal of
    the Prosecutor General of the Republic, Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro.

    We are extremely concerned with His Excellency
    the President of the Republic, Mr. Jose
    Ramos-Horta’s response to the Statement in the
    parliament by FRETILIN last week calling on the
    dismissal of Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro, Prosecutor
    General of the Republic.  We believe that the
    National Parliament is obligated to continue to
    scrutinize this case, because we all want to
    ensure that justice moves along in our country
    with neutrality and free of political
    interference.  We also accept the calls to
    initiate an investigation into the telephone
    recording which has been circulating in public
    and which the FRETILIN parliamentary group itself
    was also able to obtain a copy. It is not
    necessary to drag this issue of whether to
    investigate or not the circumstances of the
    making of the recording, and we want to make it
    clear that we support first of all an
    investigation of Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro, Leandro
    Isaac and Herminigildo Pereira as to which one of
    the three himself recorded the conversation and
    who initiated its distribution to the public, and
    to ascertain the extent of the involvement of Mr.
    Herminigildo Pereira and the former President of
    the Republic in this recording.

    We also believe that the substance of this
    recording is extremely important and we express
    our disappointment that the President of the
    Republic has not given due importance to the
    substance of the recording of the conversation
    which is an issue being closely followed by the
    public itself.  We believe that the moving
    forward of this issue should not be left with the
    Prosecutor General who is responsible for
    investigating criminal cases but who instead
    undertakes investigative services in the
    political interests of politicians as has been
    shown in the recorded conversation. It is because
    of this that the statement by the FRETILIN
    parliamentary group last week calling for the
    removal of Mr. Longuinhos Monteiro as Prosecutor
    General of the Republic remains valid.  We ask
    that this parliament to second our urgings to the
    President of the Republic to dismiss Longuinhos
    Monteiro as Prosecutor General of the Republic in
    order to restore the credibility of the work of
    the Prosecutor General in our country.

    B.      Following we want to raise the case of Major Alfredo Reinado.

    Mr. President and distinguished Members,

    We all and the Timor-Leste people have constantly
    heard of the dialogue which this de facto
    government is engaging in with Major Alfredo
    Reinado in order to seek a just solution.

    We hear that in the coming days the dialogue is
    going to occur, but until now we still do not
    know what options the de facto government will
    take with them to the dialogue with Major
    Alfredo.  We want to ask the government whether
    it is seriously looking to resolve the case of Major Alfredo or not?

    We know that some cases have been subjected to
    the justice process, some are still proceeding,
    such as the case of Abilio Mesquita who right now
    is serving his prison sentence for the attack on
    the home of Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak
    last year, as well as Rogerio Lobato for
    distributing arms. Railos is undergoing the
    justice process, some members of the F-FDTL who
    are undergoing the justice process for
    allegations of shooting police officers on 25 May 2006.

    We want to ask the government to tell us whether
    in the eyes of Justice Major Alfredo’s case
    differs from the other above mentioned cases or not?

    We do not disagree with the dialogue which is
    about to commence with Major Alfredo and although
    not having heard what the government’s position
    is regarding this issue, we want to put forward
    the following options to seek solutions to be
    used during the dialogue which the government is
    about to initiate with Major Alfredo so as that
    in future impunity is established as the practice for this illegal government;

    1.      Appoint Major Alfredo Minister for Defence and Security

    2.      Appoint Major Alfredo as Defence Attaché
    for some Timor-Leste embassy overseas

    3.      Appoint Major Alfredo as ambassador to Australia, Indonesia or Portugal

    4.      Appoint Major Alfredo as Ermera District Administrator

    5.      Appoint Major Alfredo as commander of
    PNTL (Timor-Leste National Police) Baucau District

    6.      Perhaps seek that Major Alfredo pays for
    his wrongs in the assault at Fato Ahi on 23 May
    2007 or other wrongs with forced labour at Weberek for 15 years

    7.      Cantonement for him but with a free
    movement pass for his whole life as Railos was
    able to obtain from the former President of the
    Republic and former PNTL Commander

    8.      Ask other countries such as Australia,
    Portugal and Indonesia to give Major Alfredo political exile

    9.      Grant him an amnesty to give him full freedom

    10.     Ask other countries to give him a
    scholarship to study overseas for five years

    11.     The last option is to make Major Alfredo
    respond for his actions through justice, law and
    order as applies in our country, in the Dili
    District Court, as others such as Abilio
    Mesquita, Rogerio Lobato, the Members of the
    F-FDTL and Railos are through court proceedings in the Dili District Court.

    Finally we also ask the President of the National
    Parliament to communicate our recommendations to
    the de facto government and the President of the
    Republic who are holding ongoing dialogue with Major Alfredo Reinado.

    We await that Major Alfredo Reinado is able to
    obtain our recommendations of the options to seek
    a just solution for his case. We await that
    whatever solution is reached to resolve his case
    does not create impunity from justice in our country.

    Thank you Mr. President.

    We the undersigned make this statement;

    Arsenio Bano
    Cipriana Pereira
    Osorio Florindo

    Aussie army assults

    FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE

     

    FRETILIN

     

     

    Quintal Bot community rejects “lies” by Australian military commander, demands justice for assault victims

     

    Briefing note to media from:

    Francisco Branco, acting FRETILIN Parliamentary Leader

    (For further details contact: José Teixeira MP +670 728 7080)

    Dili 22 October 2007

     

    Below is a translation of a statement from victims of, and witnesses to an assault on three Timorese civilians by Australian troops in the Dili suburb of Quintal Bot on October 14. The statement was read to a news conference at Parliament House, Dili, on October 19.

     

    The news conference was organised by the head of the youth organization in Quintal Bot, Carlito B. and community leader Teki Liras.

     

    Both Carlito and Mr Teki Liras stated that their local community rejected the statement by the Australian Force Commander and would support the victims to get justice through the courts.

     

    They said they believed the Australian troops behaved aggressively because their suburb is considered a FRETILIN stronghold and the soldiers resented the flying of the FRETILIN flag.   The assault occurred in front of a shop over which a large FRETILIN flag is flying.

     

    Carlito said the Quintal Bot community is law abiding and there had been no trouble in the suburb. He asked why were Australian troops creating problems inside their community using violence and aggression, especially towards a security guard employed to protect the state’s assets – a rice warehouse?

     

    Carlito directly accused the Australian Force Commander of lying when he denied that his men had assaulted the three Timorese.   Carlito said the Quintal Bot community had taken its complaint to parliament, in order to ensure the matter went to court.  “We do not want to be repeatedly victimized,” he said.

     

    The victims themselves also declared that the statement by the Australian Commander was a lie, and demanded that he come to Quintal Bot and indicate who it was who were fighting as he alleged.

     

    The victims said they have about 10 witnesses to the assaults whose statements they are collecting (having taken 3 already: Antonio Barreto alias “Mauliar”, Paulo Soares and Chiquito) and these statements will be given to investigators.

     

    On Thursday 18 October the complaint was presented to the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice.   The police have already started an investigation of the complaint lodged on Monday 15 October.

    FRETILIN supports above all the desire of the Quintal Bot community to a thorough and transparent investigation by the Police authorities and the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice as expressed in their public statements.   FRETILIN also expects that the Australian Defence Command will make the Defence Force Personnel involved in the incident available to be interviewed by the relevant authorities to determine the truth of what actually occurred.  Other political parties in the national parliament have expressed support in this regard also.

     

     

    STATEMENT BY COMMUNITY AND VICTIMS OF QUINTAL BOT

     

    Case:    Brutality by Australian Forces

     

    Date:  Sunday, 14 October 2007, 10.30 at night

     

    Place:   Quintal Bot

     

    We would like to refer to the public statement from the Commander of the Australian Forces (Brigadier John Hutcheson) on TVTL on 17th of October 2007, at 8.30 in the evening, that they came to Quintal Bot to separate two people who were fighting and that they did not assault the victim Abilio Fatima.

     

    On this, we as the victims of these actions wish to respond immediately to the Australian Force Commander’s public statements:

     

    1. We greatly lament the statements by the Australian Force Commander because we have heard many times these false arguments and lies to cover up criminal acts against we the little people of Timor-Leste.

     

    2.  If as he states there was in fact a fight between members of our community, we request that the Force Commander indicate who these criminal elements are because in reality it was the Australian Forces who brutally assaulted the victim Abilio Fatima in the nighttime.

     

    3. Based on the facts which have been disclosed above, we ask the authorities (the National Parliament, the State, the Government and the Appeals Court) to investigate this crime quickly so that it can be taken to the courts quickly.

     

    Quintal Bot, 18 October 2007

     

    Signed by:

    Victims:

    1. Abilio Fatima

     

    2.  Januario*

     

    3. Fernando*

     

    Witnesses:

    1. Antonio Barreto, alias Mauliar

     

    2.   Paulo Soares

     

    3.   Chiquito

     

    * Note: Januario and Fernando say they were punched and slapped by the Australian troops. They have therefore identified themselves as victims, and lodged complaints with the police, though their injuries were minor compared to those sustained by Abilio Fatima.

     

     

    FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE

     

    FRETILIN

     

    Media release

     

    October 17, 2007

     

    FRETILIN questions Australian military presence after civilian bashing complaint

     

    Reports that a Timorese security guard was severely beaten by six Australian soldiers opened up a parliamentary debate yesterday about the legal status, role, command structure and duration of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) presence in Timor Leste.

     

    FRETILIN MP Antoninho Bianco presented parliament with a complaint by Mr Abilio Fatima, 41, who is employed by Maubere Security to protect the warehouse of the Ministry of Social Security in the Dili suburb of Kintal Bot.

     

    In a complaint to the police, Mr Fatima alleged that at 10.30pm last Sunday, October 14, he was on duty, talking to some neighbours, when two ADF vehicles arrived, with about 12 soldiers, six of whom alighted and ordered Mr Fatima and the neighbours to disperse and go indoors.

     

    Mr Fatima explained through a Tetum language interpreter attached to the soldiers that he was on duty, that regular police patrols never ordered him to leave his post, and asked why the soldiers were so concerned with ordinary civilians like him instead of with cases like Alfredo Reinado, the rebel soldier, and his armed group.

     

    Mr Fatima alleged that after he mentioned Reinado he was immediately struck with rifle butts many times in the head, upper arms and back, and then bitten on the right upper arm by a soldiers‚ guard dog. Two of his neighbours were also assaulted and fled to their homes, but Mr Fatima stayed at his post.

     

    Next morning, Mr Fatima made a complaint to Fretilin MPs at Parliament House, and then went to the National Hospital for treatment, before going to the Dili Police Headquarters to register his complaint.

     

    Many MPs including from the non-FRETILIN side of parliament supported a call for a full and thorough investigation into this incident as one of a string of incidents of ADF maltreatment of civilians.

     

    The President of the Parliament, Fernando Lasama Araujo MP (Democratic Party), directed that the matter be referred to parliamentary Committee A (Constitution, Rights and Justice) so that the Secretaries of State for Defence and Security respectively could be requested to come to the parliament and respond to these issues raised regarding the ADF conduct.

     

    FRETILIN MP Estanislau da Silva said the time had come to re-evaluate the presence of the ADF, to determine how many, for what purpose and for how long they should remain in Timor-Leste. He stressed that there was a sentiment of hostility building up because of some of the actions of the ADF and that the parliament should be careful that this sentiment did not become overwhelming and manifest itself in negative ways. „We have to act to prevent this from occurring, as we have had a history of this occurring with occupying armies in the past,‰ said Mr Da Silva.

     

    These views were supported by CNRT MP Cecilio Caminha who called for transparency in dealing with cases of abuse of power by the ADF. FRETILIN MP Jose Teixeira called for the Australian military force to come under the UN command, to make it more accountable.

     

    FRETILIN MP Francisco Branco argued that even if the presence of the ADF in Timor-Leste was ultimately ratified by the National Parliament, the officers who ordered operations, such as when ADF troops shot dead Timorese at the Dili Airport IDP Camp or in the attack on the Alfredo group in Same, should be investigated for the legality of their actions.

     


    Comments on Timor Leste AMP tax reform proposals

    The Tax Reform Proposals from the AMP government are a derivative set
    of ideas, borrowing from the Washington based investor lobby headed
    by the IMF-World Bank Group. The three-way presentation (IMF,
    President Jose Ramos Horta, AMP Tax Committee) gives the apearance of
    broad consensus, but it is mostly a reflection of the well known
    ‘Washington consensus’.

    This ‘Washington consensus’ was a package of policies adopted in
    IMF-WB ‘structural adjustment programs’ (SAPs) across the developing
    world in tne 1980s and 1990s. SAPs became so unpopular that the banks
    abolished this name in September 1999. However all the major elements
    of SAPs were rapidly resurrected under ‘poverty reduction’ and ‘good
    governance’ programs.

    The current tax proposals thus have their origin in the claims of
    private investor lobby groups. The Ramos Horta version appears to be
    the ‘ambit claim’ (the most enthusiastic overstatement) while the
    Committee pulls back a bit from this extreme version towads the
    original IMF version; otherwise the three suggestions are fairly
    consistent. However the existing tax system is not debated, the
    various ‘reform’ proposals are not real alternatives, and they are
    not linked to the particular conditions of Timor Leste.

    The main part of the proposals comprise: (a) abolition of the
    progressive income tax, replacing it with a low (or zero) flat rate
    income tax, (b) abolition or reduction of already low tariffs to a
    even lower (or zero) level and (c) abolition or strong cuts in
    service taxes (tourism, transport, telecommunications).

    No argument is given for any of these ‘reforms’, but we can infer
    that they represent an attempt to encourage or induce private
    investment, or at least to impress investor groups. The problem is
    that such attempts to impress may not lead to the expected inflow of
    cash, but may instead cause lasting structural damage, weakening the
    new state’s capacity.

    The current income tax system does not affect the vast majority of
    East Timorese people, so a flat tax rate of between 5 and 15% is
    clearly not aimed at them. President Ramos Horta’s threshhold for
    income tax emeption ($1,000 per month) is higher than the average
    *annual* income in Timor Leste. Abolition of the existing progressive
    tax rate (where those with greater capacity pay a greater proportion)
    and its replacement with a flat tax would shift the tax burden away
    from those with economic resources onto the broader population, and
    onto the patrimony of the petroleum fund. The flat and low tax
    proposal would diminish state capacity by narrowing the tax base. In
    the current RDTL system the highest income tax rate (30%) is still
    quite low and the corporate (‘legal person’) rate appropriately taxes
    commercial operations.

    A low, flat tax is a major concession to a small group of high income
    people, but it is not clear that it would attract more foreign
    investment. Timor Leste does not have highly competitive
    manufacturing industries that might be influenced by a lower tax rate
    than applies in other countries. The factors that might influence new
    investment in Timor Leste are more likely to be: political stability,
    stable and consistent foreign investment rules, improved
    infrastructure, and improved public health (e.g. control of malaria
    and dengue).

    Given that the major opportunity for non-oil foreign investment in
    Timor Leste is in tourist services – a luxury service industry which
    thrives on reputation and exclusivity – slashing income and service
    taxes seems irrelevant at best and a ‘pre-emptive strike’ on state
    revenues at worst. It would weaken state capacity and increase
    reliance on the petroleum fund. In respect of future investment in
    tourism, the existing corporate income tax and the services tax on
    tourism seem highly appropriate.

    The tariff proposal is not in response to any international pressure
    (e.g. from the WTO) although Australia did apply some moral pressure
    in 2005, when it abolished all tariffs for a range of ‘least
    developed’ countries including Timor Leste. This was part of an
    ‘Australian consensus’ to unilaterally reduce tariffs and then refer
    to this example in international arguments, particularly over
    agriculture. There is no direct pressure on the RDTL to respond, but
    there is some implicit pressure for reciprocity. However as
    Australian exports to Timor Leste are several dozen times Timor’s
    exports to Australia it is a highly asymmetrical suggestion.

    Tariffs serve a distinct function in developing countries, where
    these taxes on imports are relatively easy to administer, can be
    targeted at luxuries and can make a significant contribution to state
    revenues. In a wealthier country with a wider tax base (e.g. with
    broader income taxes, consumption taxes, service taxes and property
    taxes), on the other hand, tariffs are usually insignificant for
    state revenues. Wealthier countries are also much better placed to
    use subsidies as policy instruments. Poorer countries do not have this option.

    The rejection of a consumption tax in Timor Leste seems appropriate,
    as this would be more difficult to administer and probably (depending
    on exemptions) highly inequitable. However the proposal for a low and
    flat income tax with a high exemption threshold would be highly
    inequitable and would narrow the tax base, weakening state capacity
    and leading to greater reliance on the petroleum fund. Similarly,
    cutting service taxes on tourism would seriously undermine the
    capacity of the state to broaden its tax base and benefit from the
    country’s main potential non-oil growth industry. Unilateral
    reductions in the country’s already low tariffs are unnecessary and
    would further weaken state capacity.

    Tim Anderson
    20 October 2007