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

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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.

    ——————————————————————————–

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    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