Monthly Archives: December 2007

Horta – forget history

DILI (AFP) – East Timor’s president Jose Ramos-Horta called for the
country to “forget bad things” and unite during a “Peace Concert” in
the capital Dili on Saturday.

He made his plea at the city’s National Stadium, where 2,000 people
had gathered for a “cultural and music programme promoting peace and
national unity”, according to a government statement. The crowd had
arrived there following a “Walk of Peace”.

“Let us forget bad things that happened in the past that divide and
hurt us and let us unite in peace and love so we can advance to a
better future,” President Ramos-Horta said in his Christmas message on stage.

During the event local bands and a group from Indonesia performed in
front of thousands of people wearing white t-shirts with the word
“Dame” — meaning Peace in the local language Tetum.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao separately told reporters his government
“promises in 2008 to overcome problems in this country and maintain
stability… this is important for the success of this country”.

In 2006, East Timor was rocked by clashes between security force
factions which quickly degenerated into street violence involving
gangs. The crisis prompted the deployment of thousands of
international peacekeepers to restore calm.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was separated from Indonesia
following a 1999 independence vote marred by deadly violence
inflicted by the Indonesian military and its militia allies.

Displaced East Timorese children go hungry in Indonesian West Timor

Elcid Li

The big political change in East Timor in 1999 was accompanied by killing, burning, and the forced displacement of 280,000 people out of the territory by Indonesian military-backed militias. By 2002, 111,540 East Timorese had decided to stay in Indonesia, mostly in West Timor. In 2006, 53,889 of these were still living in refugee camps or otherwise squatting on land owned by locals. Some had moved into resettlement villages built specially for them.

Parents struggle to survive from day to day. Their difficult and unsettled situation is hardest on the children. For example, on 30 August 2005, Yasinta Sarmento, less than five years old, died from diarrhoea and vomiting in Tuapukan camp. A doctor had diagnosed malnutrition three months before, and she was treated in Kupang public hospital. But her parents Manuel Ximenes and Balbina Alves took her home early because they had no money to pay the hospital.

Six children passed away in this camp at the same time. Lack of clean water cost them their lives. The dry season is the worst. Manuel Ximenes still has two children, but he can take only five buckets per day from the nearest well. When they still had refugee status, the local government gave them water support.

As a farmer without any land, Manuel works for a local farmer in the rainy season, but in the dry season he has no job. The new settlers are still not well-integrated into the local social support system. As the ‘new other’, they remain marginalised. ‘I don’t have the money to register myself with the local government,’ said Manuel. Without an identity card, it is impossible to access the government’s anti-poverty fund.

Poverty drove Natalia Riberu and Rui Amaral to leave their children in Noelbaki, another refugee camp. They went to work on faraway islands. Natalia began training as a migrant worker in Java, hoping to go overseas. But when she fainted during training they excluded her. Her husband Rui worked on Sawu island as a low wage mechanic for a Chinese employer. While they were away, trying to improve life for their family, two of their teenage daughters became pregnant. ‘We do not know what to say,’ Rui said bitterly. Both Natalia and Rui were shocked by the news. But life must go on. Just like it had to go on the year before, when their eldest daughter stopped attending junior high school and started helping her mother in the paddy field of a local landowner. They were paid in rice after the harvest.

Natalia’s family will be the last one to move out of the refugee camp to the new resettlement village. They say there is a strong hierarchy in the camp. For example, a mixed couple, one Timorese and the other Javanese, would get priority to go to the resettlement village. Timorese who used to belong to the Indonesian military or the militias also get preferential treatment. On the other hand, life in the camps can have advantages. They tend to be closer to town, where the jobs are, than the more remotely situated resettlement villages.

One of Natalia and Rui’s sons, Hanuku, is studying in Jakarta in an Islamic boarding school, a pesantren. Despite the fact that they are Catholics and he has to be separated from the family, they think that this is a better option for Hanuku. The pesantren covers all expenses. ‘The important thing is, he will get a certificate; the rest will be easy to handle,’ said Rui. He thinks the new religion his son had to adopt to study in Jakarta is just an instrument to get a better education. ‘He can just take off the (new) clothes and put them in the cupboard when he comes back,’ he added with a smile.

While the parents were away, trying to improve life for their family, two of their teenage daughters became pregnant

In 1999 they lost another daughter to a high fever. They were staying in the nearby Oepoi sports hall. Rui said his family now just wants to stay close to his daughter’s grave. He does not want to return to East Timor. I asked him whether he had had any relation with the Indonesian military in the past. He just said he used to live near the Indonesian naval base in Dili. The military often used men like Rui as informers or porters. But if I persisted with my questions along those lines he would go quiet. Rui, Natalia, and their two pregnant daughters are now working as market vendors at the bus station, close to the refugee camp.

This story reminds me of a conversation with a boy I met six years ago in Kupang. He called himself Jon dos Santos. He said his age was about ten and that he came from Ermera, East Timor. He was a street vendor. While we were talking, he asked a very difficult question, ‘Where can I look for life?’ I could not give the answer to his question, so then he gave me one, ‘I know. We should look for life in rich people’s houses. We should work there and we would get paid.’

He posed another difficult question, ‘Do you think ten years is old enough to work?’ and continued with another one, ‘Do you really think that you should not get revenge for the killing of your father?’ He said that his father was killed by an Indonesian soldier. He wanted to join the Indonesian mobile police brigade in order to avenge his father’s death. His story remains unclear, although I tried to confirm it later with his boss in the market.

For a time Jon lived in an orphanage run by the Ebenhaezer Protestant Church in Kupang. After school he sold cakes on the streets. Many East Timorese children had been brought there from various refugee camps in 1999. But lack of funding meant the orphanage had to close. One day a woman called Aci Leang took him away and asked him to work at her own house. Like Jon, the other children scattered all around, to anybody who was willing to take care of them. Most of them were not treated as children but as child labourers. This is a common thing in Kupang. Some time later Jon ran away and started working in the Oeba market as a plastic bag seller.

East Timorese families in camps give away their children to charity organisations because they no longer have the social backup they once had

I asked Aci Leang about Jon. She said Jon dos Santos was not his real name. His real name was Ago Pito, and she created the new name for him. She said his parents were still alive in East Timor. But what I could do about it? I have not met Jon or Ago Pito since he ran away. If it is true, it is very tragic. It means he does not even remember his village, his parents, or his brothers and sisters. He said to me once, ‘If they are still alive, they will look for me, so I think they are already dead.’

One of the reasons why East Timorese families in the refugee camps are willing to give away their children to charity organisations is that they no longer have the social backup that they had just after the crisis in 1999. In 2001 Yayasan Hati brought several groups of such children to Catholic orphanages in Central Java. Yayasan Hati is a pro-Indonesian East Timor foundation. After reading about these children in the news, I visited one of these places, in Bendungan, near Ambarawa, Central Java, in 2002. After several humanitarian NGOs and the UNHCR protested about these child removals, they were eventually returned to their families. Some of them were in camps in West Timor and others in East Timor.

Back in their original village in East Timor, if one family is unable to provide a proper life for their children, the wider families will support them. In the camps this does not happen, because the families are dispersed in different camps or even regions. This is why beggars are so common in Atambua, a town near the border with East Timor. Beggars are familiar in big cities, but not here, where people see them as signifying lack of solidarity within the group. The family will feel very ashamed if one of them becomes a beggar. Clearly these children and their families are now more afraid of hunger than of losing their own dignity. This phenomenon has brought back six UN bodies to work in Belu regency since September 2007, where 40,000 East Timorese live.

Hunger and malnutrition are common. Several decades ago, F.J Ormelling in his geographical book, The Timor Problem (1956), distinguished the seasonal hunger period, lapar biasa, from famine. Everyone has this problem in West Timor, whether they are from East or West Timor. But those who do not have the same livelihood assets have more difficulty coping with hunger. It is they who suffer the most from premature mortality. As a journalist, even eight years after the events of 1999, I can still take tragic pictures any time in the refugee camps and third class public hospital wards in West Timor. During the months of the ‘normal hunger’, sensational news reports bring them to public attention. But soon afterwards they are forgotten again. Just like last year, and the year before. There is still no way out. ii

Elcid Li ( ) was a journalist in West Timor (2001-2006), and is now a postgraduate student in the Sociology Department, University of Birmingham, UK.

Inside Indonesia 90: Oct-Dec 2007

Horta get your brush – cleaning Dili

Whilst I agree that Dili could do with a clean up don’t really think it is
the most urgent issue to be dealt with, perhaps getting the displaced people
rehoused is the main issue. Then might I suggest that Horta gives the
Australian troops permission to arrest Renaido thus giving the Timorese
people a reason to believe that ‘cleaning up’ has some meaning.

Would like to comment that when living in Dili during the ‘crisis’ most residents, including
IDP’s, made great efforts to keep their own areas clean, despite the
burning and mayhem around them. Think the previous government was kept
pretty busy on issues other than cleaning. i.e oil rights, petitioners etc.

Ramos-Horta has commented before on stray pigs and tourists, maybe tourists
find stray pigs charming, could actually be a tourist attraction – may sound
a flippant comment but tourists really don’t want to visit cities that are
the same as the cities they have left. One of the charms of Dili is the
people and the culture. Another point is that pigs clean up organic rubbish.

Not sure that Horta has seen London during the day when it is pretty dirty –
indeed most UK cities could do with a clean up. (tourists areas are kept reasonably clean throughout the day)

So certainly get rid of litter in Dili, perhaps Horta could set a good
example by having a litter cleaning day in which he led the troops with a
broom, but don’t rid Dili of its individualism please.

Lidia Tyneside East Timor Solidarity
—– Original Message —–
From: “John M Miller”
Sent: Monday, December 10, 2007 1:58 PM
Subject: AFP: ETimor capital dirtiest in world, says president

> ETimor capital dirtiest in world, says president
> DILI (AFP) – East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta on Monday
> labelled his capital the dirtiest city in the world as he exhorted
> residents to work hard to clean it up.
> “Dili is presently the dirtiest city in the world. I have never seen
> a city in this world which is dirtier than this city of ours,” said
> Ramos-Horta, a well-travelled former diplomat.
> He cited as an example the long stretches of scenic beaches of the
> coastal capital, where he blasted seaside restaurant owners for
> failing to keep clean the sands that are the very source of their revenue.
> “If we go to the beach, a lot of Timorese just throw their garbage
> and other goods into the sea,” he told reporters.
> “Therefore I call on all residents to at least maintain cleanliness
> in their respective neighbourhoods, at home, and not just wait for
> the government” to do it, he said.
> Ramos-Horta also blamed the previous government for dirty conditions
> in the capital. The current government — East Timor’s second elected
> administration under independence — came to power earlier this year.
> “This is the responsibility of the first government… The state and
> the government did not allocate appropriate funding for sanitation,” he
> said.
> The old government awarded cleaning contracts to various incompetent
> companies, he claimed, and called on the present government of Prime
> Minister Xanana Gusmao to review them.
> Speaking as foreign minister last year, Ramos-Horta said that stray
> pigs often seen roaming Dili’s beaches were a disgrace to the country.
> East Timor became the world’s youngest nation in 2002 and is one of
> Asia’s poorest countries.
> etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan
> ETAN welcomes your financial support. For more info:
> John M. Miller Internet:
> National Coordinator
> East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
> PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
> Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097
> Mobile phone: (917)690-4391 Skype: john.m.miller
> Web site:
> Send a blank e-mail message to to find out
> how to learn more about East Timor on the Internet
> etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan

Hope in hunt for graves of East Timor massacre

Canberra Times

Jill Joliffe

Families of victims of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor have found Christmas hope with a project to locate mass graves of youths who disappeared without trace.

A leader of the former political prisoner association ASEPPOL, Gregorio Saldanha, said 40 relatives attended a meeting in Dili last Thursday, and that work involving Argentinian and Australian forensic experts would begin in February 2008.

“In recent years the families have been asking regularly what is being done to find their children. Now they have hope,” he said, adding that they were also crucial in locating remains.

About 200 youths are estimated to have died on November 12, 1991, during the first public demonstration in Dili to support resistance fighters against Indonesian military occupation. Film taken of the event showed East Timorese being shot down in cold blood at the Santa Cruz cemetery in central Dili. Survivors testified that many bodies were whisked away on trucks by Indonesian soldiers.

Although the Indonesian army withdrew in 1999, the bodies have never been located.

“Indonesia has always refused requests to tell where the bodies were buried. We have asked constantly,” Mr Saldanha said.
He was shot during the massacre, then charged with organising the demonstration and sentenced to life imprisonment for subversion.

Even though his sentence was commuted, he was the last East Timorese political prisoner to be freed from an Indonesian prison, months after the fall of president Suharto.

The forensic team, employed by the UN Serious Crimes Investigation Unit in Dili, will use infrared equipment to locate and exhume the bodies with the help of research conducted by ASEPPOL with the families.

“Those of us alive have a responsibility to search for them,” Mr Saldanha said, adding that a commission was working on identifying all who took part in the ill-fated demonstration in order to honour their contribution to East Timor’s liberation.

“The survivors have many problems,” he said, “which are largely ignored”.

There are many carrying injuries still some who vomit blood, others with bullets in their bodies, and many with psychological problems.

Building the Future



Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru (Together Building the Future), a comprehensive national recovery strategy was launched on Monday by the Vice Prime Minister at a ceremony in Dili.

In a statement released through his cabinet, Vice Prime Minister Jose Guterres said, ‘Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru is an inter-ministerial initiative to facilitate a national recovery process and offer people affected by the civil crisis options towards recovery.’

‘We have adopted a new vision toward national recovery, one that not only promotes mutual acceptance but strengthens communities, local economies, stability and the relationship between the Government and the people of Timor-Leste, whom we serve.’

‘Two pilot sites have been selected for implementation. There is one site in Dili and another in the districts. After we implement recovery packages in these pilot sites and asses the results, full-scale implementation will occur at a national level.’ said Vice Prime Minister Jose Guterres.

Minister for Social Solidarity, Maria Domingas Alves added, ‘we will help repair and rebuild homes; we will help local economies to grow stronger; we will help those who are vulnerable to have a decent standard of life; we will help communities to become whole again; we will help ordinary people to feel safe in their homes.’

‘The amount of support given to each family will depend on the amount of damage that has been done to their home. Assessing the damage to homes is the responsibility of the Ministry of Infrastructure. Support will only be provided to the former occupants of houses that were damaged or destroyed before the 30th of October this year. Any houses that are damaged after this time will not be included in this programme of activities. Anyone who was not living in the damaged or destroyed homes prior to April of last year will not be eligible to receive the support for its repair or rehabilitation,’ said Minister Alves.

The Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru initiative includes several branch components including; Hamutuk Hari’i Uma (Together Building Homes), Hamutuk Hari’i Protesaun (Together Building Protection), Hamutuk Hari’i Estabilidade (Together Building Stability), Hamutuk Hari’i Ekonomia Sosial (Together Building Social Economy) and Hamutuk Hari’i Confiansa (Together Building Trust).

Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru is led by the Vice Prime Minister’s office and incorporates a wide range of relevant Government Ministries as well as the F-FDTL and PNTL, tasked to specific areas identified in the policy.


FO SA’E KEDAS / 19.12.2007

Segunda Feira liu ba, Vice Primerio Ministro mak lansa stratejia rekuperasaun nasional iha seremonia ida iha Dili. Stratejia ida ne’e mak naran Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru.

Liu husi nia gabinete, Vice Primerio Minister hateten katak ‘Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru mak inisiativu inter-ministerial, para bele fasilita prosesu rekupersaun nasional no mos ofrese opsaun oioin ba ema sira ne’ebe afekdatu husi krize civil.’

‘Ami simu visaun foun ida ba rekuperasaun nasional. La’os deit promove povu atu simu malu, maibe hametin lui komunidade, ekonomia local, stabilidade no relasaun liu husi Governo no povo Timor ne’ebe ami mak serve.’

Fatin piloto 2 selesiona atu halo implementasaun. Fatin ida iha Dili no fatin ida seluk iha distritu. Depois de implementasaun pakote rekuperasaun iha fatin rua ne’eb’e refere no sei halo assesmentu ba resultadu mak depois sei implementa ba fatin hotu,’ Vice Primerio Ministro Jose Guterres hatete.

Ministra Solidaridade Social dehan, ‘ami sei ajuda ba hadia no hari’i uma; ami sei ajuda ekonomia local sa’i maka’as; ami sei ajuda ema sira ne’ebe vulnarabel atu hetan moris diak, ami sei ajuda komunidade sira sa’i metin fali; ami sei ajuda ema ki’ik atu senti rai iha sira nia uma laran.’

‘Supporta ne’ebe familia ida-idak sei hetan depende ba nivel uma ne’eb’e mak hetan estragus. Atu halo avaliasaun ba nivel estragus mak Ministerio Infrastaturas nian responsibilidade. Sira fo apoiu ba uma nain ne’ebe hetan estragus molok 30 Outubru 2007. Uma sira ne’ebe hetan estragus depois loron ida ne’e la inklui iha programa ida ne’e nia aktividades . Ema sira ne’ebe la’os hela iha uma ne’ebe hetan estragus molok Abril 2006 labele hetan apoiu atu hadia uma,’ Ministra Alves hatete.

Inisiativu Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru iha komponente barak inklui; Hamutuk Hari’i Uma, Hamutuk Hari’i Protesaun, Hamutuk Hari’i Estabilidade, Hamutuk Hari’i Ekonomia Sosial nomos Hamutuk Hari’i Confiansa.

Hamutuk Hari’i Futuru diriji husi gabinete Vice Primerio Ministro, maibe ho koperasaun Ministerio bar-barak ne’ebe relevante, nomos hetan apoio husi F-FDTL, PNTL.

University of Sydney Scholarships for Timor-Leste citizens


The University of Sydney will be offering two scholarships for Timor-Leste citizens to study medicine commencing in 2009. The scholarships will include full tuition and living allowances.

Information about the University of Sydney Medical Program is located at
Enquiries should be directed to email: or phone: +61 2 9351 7495/ 9351 7864.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor degree in any discipline as well as the admissions test (GAMSAT or MCAT) at the time of application to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The Timor-Leste Government will provide support to suitable applicants seeking to complete the GAMSAT or MCAT as part of this process. The terms and conditions of the Scholarship are available at:

All applicants must complete an application to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). For further details, please visit the website at:

Applicants are also required to submit an application form for Scholarships for Citizens of Timor-Leste to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney.


The University of Sydney will be offering one scholarship for a Timor-Leste citizen to study pharmacy commencing in 2009. The scholarship will include full tuition and living allowances.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor degree in any discipline, with a minimum of 5 of the 7 essential pre-requisites, as well as the GAMSAT or MCAT admission test before May 2008. More details can be found at:

Admission Tests: GAMSAT & MCAT

Further information about the GAMSAT can be obtained at and MCAT at:

Support of the Timor-Leste Government

Applicants must have the support of the Timor-Leste Government. Further information about this support by the Timor-Leste Government can be obtained from Ms Manuela Pereira, Chief of Staff, Minister of Health, Email:; phone mobile: +670 7248236

Destabilising Timor Leste

This is written by former F-FDTL officer Lt. Col. Donaciano Gomes AKA Pedro Klamar Fuik. He was from late 2005 to July 2006 a military advisor to the then President Gusmao. He is a relatively young man who was previous to 1999 in the clandestine resistance, having actually escaped to Australia in the late 1990’s. He was a Gusmao hand picked person to join the high command of the F-FDTL when it was set up, going straight into the rank of Lt. Col. He was a Gusmao “insider” and did his bidding post F-FDTL formation until he resigned late last year. He is now studying in Portugal. Prior to the crisis he was the go-between between Xanana and the F-FDTL over the Petitioners issue. He was quoted by Xanana in his 22 March 2006 speech as the source of a false information that Brig Gen Ruak had said about the Petitioners “they want war? Let them come and we will have a war.” In the middle of the crisis he ran off to Oecussi to avoid getting caught up in it all. He was also the favourite of the Aust and US defence cooperation people, having travelled to the USA on their funds at least three times. He must have known something to writing this stuff. This opinion piece which appeared in Jornal Nacional Diario has only been partially translated from Portuguese to English. .

Please put it on the ETAN list.


Daud Muak

Multi-impact Operations Provoked the Timorese Crisis

By: Lt. Col. Donaciano Gomes (Klamarfuik – Wild Spirit)

Foreign operations characterized by DIME (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic), typical of the Saxon mode were carried out successfully in Timor-Leste affecting Timor-Leste’s vulnerabilities and having destructive multiple effects on the process of the construction of the RDTL State, transforming itself into a chronic and prolonged crisis.
The final desired state from this type of operation was, and continues to be, an attempt at political domination and permanent influence over Timor-Leste as an area of their strategic interest. Through these operations the final objectives were achieved by use of various forms of sequenced actions, namely:
1). Military objective: The fragmentation of the F-FDTL and the National Police, destroying their prestige and gaining control over these institutions and their strategic development – the main final objective;
2). Diplomatic objective: Breeding transversal lobbies to stimulate popular anti-democratic political behavior, with the view of constantly dismissing those governments antagonistic to their interests; a flagrant example being the forced removal of the Mari Alkatiri government by force of the circumstances created and creating precedents for its repetition;
3). Information objective: Breeding a sense of mistrust in relation to the State institutions of the RDTL and their institutions and their institutional fragmentation, through instigated of campaigns, the dissemination of false information and political propaganda of ideological persecution, which on the other hand also aims at fragmenting ethnic and generational differences;
4). Economic objective: The effects attained in 1, 2 and 3 provoking a break in social conduct and structure of the people, automatically affecting the normal cycle of the national economic life.
In order to have a sustainable framework from the effects of DIME, a political contour was created that was conducive and synchronized to suit the operations undertaken, targeting international legitimacy and legality for effecting intervention by military force (an act of aggression against Timorese sovereignty) under the cover of an array of humanitarian assistance and conflict prevention missions.
In this conjuncture, it was impossible for Timor-Leste to avoid the scenarios which evolved into a Crisis, given the inexperience and bad management of the decision makers of the State. One more lesson registered for the process of maturing of the Timorese leadership. Timor-Leste was, and continues to be a permanent stage for foreign strategic operations.