Monthly Archives: March 2008

Defence beefs up ties with Jakarta

The Australian

Friday, March 28, 2008

Patrick Walters, National security editor

AUSTRALIA is set to strengthen defence ties with Indonesia, expanding
combined exercises, training and educational links.

The upswing in defence relations comes in the wake of the recent
ratification of the Lombok Treaty on defence co-operation, which
provides a surer foundation for closer defence ties.

Bilateral defence relations have been subject to sharp changes over
the past decade. In the wake of the Australian-led intervention in
East Timor in 1999, Indonesia tore up a defence pact negotiated by
former prime minister Paul Keating and defence ties were all but
severed for several years.

Nearly a decade later, both sides are committed to working more
closely on common security issues including terrorism, piracy and
disaster relief.

Visits by defence chiefs have become routine and Australia and
Indonesia conduct an annual strategic dialogue involving defence and
intelligence officials.

Both sides are proceeding cautiously on expanding the range of
military-to-military exercises, which are chiefly focused on maritime
security, peacekeeping and disaster management.

Indonesia’s Defence Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, said yesterday he
would like to see more training of young officers from Indonesia’s
defence force in Australia in management and IT in addition to
traditional staff college courses. Last year, 110 Indonesian officers
trained in Australia.

Dr Sudarsono poured cold water on any suggestion that Indonesia was
engaged in any kind of arms build-up, describing the defence budget
as a “shoestring budget without a shoe”.

Dr Sudarsono told a seminar at the Australian National University
that Indonesia’s $US3.5billion ($3.81 billion) defence budget was
smaller than than of tiny Singapore which had emerged as ASEAN’s
military superpower.

The key security challenge for Indonesia was economic rather than
military, as 36 million people, or about 15 per cent of the
population, lived below the poverty line.

Dr Sudarsono stressed that poverty alleviation and employment
generation were fundamental to Indonesia’s long-term security.

Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said yesterday his meeting with Dr
Sudarsono had provided a timely opportunity to advance defence ties
following the ratification of the Lombok Treaty.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the two sides would work on a series of joint
understandings to identify areas for closer co-operation, including
joint defence science and technology projects.

“The joint understandings will outline our mutual priorities for
future defence engagement, including military training and
post-graduate education, combined exercises and maritime surveillance
and patrol,” he said.


Joyo Indonesia News Service

East Timor President points finger at Reinado’s Australian lover

Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin

March 28, 2008

EAST Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta has
accused a Timor-born Australian woman of
influencing rebel leader Alfredo Reinado in the
lead-up to last month’s assassination bid.

Angelita Pires, who was the rebel leader’s
“intimate associate and lover”, was among several
people who had “manipulated and influenced”
Reinado before the attack on February 11, Mr Ramos Horta said.

Speaking for the first time about the attempt on
his life, Mr Ramos Horta also told The Age
yesterday how he came within a split second of being killed.

“I could see from the face and eyes of one of
Reinado’s men that he was going to shoot me,” Mr
Ramos Horta said. “I turned around. It was at
that moment that he fired at least two shots,
hitting me on the right side of the back,” he said.

“If I had not turned at that moment he would have
shot me right in the chest … I would have died immediately.”

Mr Ramos Horta, who has been released from
hospital but remains in Darwin recovering from
his gunshot wounds, said he wanted answers to
many questions arising from the attempt on his
life, including why the Australian-led
International Stabilisation Force (ISF) did not
immediately hunt down the attackers.

He understood that there was no “hostile pursuit” of the rebels for two days.

Mr Ramos Horta said he also wanted to know why
United Nations police did not immediately come to his assistance.

He described how he lay bleeding for about 30
minutes near the front gate of his house on a
hill overlooking Dili harbour. “I felt no pain,” he said.

But he remembered thinking that if he died, East
Timor would explode into violence. “This was what partly helped me hang on.”

Mr Ramos Horta also told why he returned to the
house from a morning beach walk after hearing two
sets of gunshots. He said he initially looked at
two Timorese army soldiers who were with him and
said “Yes, the shots are from the house.”

But he said he then encountered the Dili manager
of the ANZ bank, who was riding a bike. “He said
in a casual and relaxed way that the ISF was
doing an exercise near my house,” Mr Ramos Horta
said. “That being the case, I felt relaxed and
decided to go home,” he said. “I also wanted to
check on the people at my house ­ they included children.”

Mr Ramos Horta said that as he approached the
house he saw a bullet-riddled army vehicle. “I
didn’t see a single person, I didn’t see any ISF
soldier,” he said. “It looked very weird to me.

“I started to walk more cautiously, concerned. At
one point when we were approaching the gate one
of the soldiers who was escorting me said to be
careful, there’s somebody there … he meant some hostile person.

“When I looked I saw one of Alfredo’s men in full
uniform with a cloth on his head. He then aimed the gun at me.”

Mr Ramos Horta said when he was shot he fell to
the road and was unable to move for about 30
minutes until a battered old ambulance arrived.
He said he made repeated calls for help on his mobile phone.

He said an inquiry must investigate why UN police
failed to immediately encircle the area around
his house to prevent the attackers escaping.

“Why didn’t the ISF immediately launch actions to
capture those elements?” he said. “How did Mr
Alfredo Reinado happen to be totally undetected
in Dili when the ISF was supposed to be keeping an eye on his movements?

“There are quite a number of missing elements
that have to be clarified,” Mr Ramos Horta said.
“The people of my country are demanding answers
and I intend to get answers to all of these
questions.” Mr Ramos Horta said a commission of
inquiry should also examine who was behind both
Reinado and Gastao Salsinha, the former military
commander also suspected of involvement in the
February 11 attacks on Mr Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Reinado, who had been wanted for murder over a
previous armed confrontation with police, was
killed in a shoot-out with Mr Ramos Horta’s bodyguards after the attack.

East Timorese soldiers and police are still
hunting Salsinha and 13 of his men in the island nation’s central mountains.

Mr Ramos Horta said the attacks came as a shock
to the people of East Timor, of whom he is proud for remaining calm.

He said Reinado had told him when they last met
in January that he was the only political leader
he trusted. He (Reinado) put a lot of trust in me,” he said.

But Mr Ramos Horta said Reinado was a very
unstable person who was never consistent with
what he said. “He does something else the next
day while under the influence of his intimate
associate and lover Ms Angie Pires and others who were behind him,” he said.

“While I managed to create a certain climate of
confidence among him and his men, there were some
elements behind him who would manipulate and
influence the situation,” Mr Ramos Horta said.

Ms Pires, 38, who grew up in Darwin, was detained
within days of the attacks and appeared before a judge.

She was released to house detention in Dili while
the investigation into the attacks continues.

Ms Pires is politically well-connected in Dili,
but has denied having any prior knowledge of the
attacks, or being involved in any plot to destabilise East Timor.

Mr Ramos Horta said he hoped to return to Dili within two or three weeks.

UN East Timor Aid

A humanitarian and recovery appeal launched in Timor-Leste

Dili – 28 March, 2008 – The United Nations and non government organisations working in Timor-Leste will launch an appeal to the donor community tomorrow for ongoing relief and recovery programs.

The Transitional Strategy and Appeal is a consolidated plan to support the most vulnerable, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and communities at risk from natural disasters. The project areas have been identified after detailed and strategic planning by humanitarian and recovery partners in close coordination with the Government.

The total amount being appealed for is US$33.5m, compared with US$36m requested last year. While humanitarian assistance in the IDP camps continues to be critical, early recovery initiatives aimed at the creation of an enabling environment for IDPs’ return and/or resettlement have become the primary focus of the Government of Timor-Leste and its partners in 2008. The funds will be spent in three strategic areas:

1. Continued emergency assistance in IDP camps

2. Supporting the Government’s National Recovery Strategy in the areas of housing, security and stability, social protection, local economies and building community trust

3. Strengthening the country’s ability to manage risk and impact from natural disasters

The total sum will contribute to 67 projects administered by six national NGOs, 13 international NGOs and eight UN Agencies, funds and programmes including the International Organisation for Migration.

The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Timor-Leste, Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen, says that funding raised through the Appeal will complement national financial resources already committed by the Government.

‘The Government of Timor-Leste has committed US$ 15 million in 2008 to address IDP issues’ says Mr Reske-Nielsen. ‘These financial resources constitute a significant and increased commitment of the Government towards these issues, however, further donor support to Government’s efforts will be valuable to help meet its shortfall’.

Mr Reske-Nielsen said that ongoing humanitarian problems that stem from the crisis in 2006 are complex and multi-dimensional with social, economic and political roots.

‘There is no simple nor short-term solution, and the experience of national and international organisations along with the Government, shows that continued support to ongoing humanitarian response and recovery efforts is vital to reaching a sustainable resolution to the crisis.’

For more information please contact UNMIT Spokesperson Allison Cooper on +670 723 0453

ETimor requests 33.5 million dollars from donors

6 hours ago

DILI (AFP) ­ East Timor’s government on Saturday
appealed to international donors for 33.5 million
dollars in aid for the impoverished nation during a meeting here.

Twenty-three donor countries and the government
held two days of talks in Dili to discuss aid to the half-island nation.

“It is critical for the government to receive
continuous financial support from the
international community during this crucial 2008
transition period,” Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis
Guterres said in a closing speech.

Guterres said some of the funds would go to
emergency aid to internally displaced peoples and
for food assistance. He also said the government
had allocated 15 million dollars from its own
resources to address humanitarian issues.

East Timor has been rocked by troubles in recent years.

In 2006, more than 100,000 people were estimated
to have fled their homes amid sudden bloodshed that followed unrest.

In February, renegade soldiers attacked President
Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao
in separate assaults. Gusmao was unscathed, but
Ramos-Horta was shot and spent weeks recovering in an Australian hospital.

Rudd – East Timor row

Speaking in Washington, Mr Rudd also voiced his support for the way Australian troops handled the assassination attempt on East Timor’s President in Dili last month.

Jose Ramos-Horta has criticised Australian-led forces for not acting more quickly to cordon off the capital and stop the rebels escaping.

Mr Rudd says Australian troops handled the situation very effectively.

“I defend their absolute professionalism in how that was dealt with in very trying circumstances,” he said.

“The fact that Jose was able to be got to the international medical facility at the Australian base in Dili so quickly, frankly is a large part of the reason why we were able to help Jose pull through.”

Australia defends lack of response to Ramos-Horta assasination attempt

Australia defends response to East Timor unrest

CANBERRA, March 28 (Reuters) – Australia on Friday strongly defended
its military’s response to an assassination attempt on East Timor’s
leadership after injured President Jose Ramos-Horta said they could
have done more to capture his assailants.

Ramos-Horta was critically injured when he was shot twice in on Feb.
11, when gunmen loyal to rebel leader Alfredo Reinado launched
early-morning attacks on the president and Prime Minister Xanana
Gusmao in Dili.

Now recovering in Australia’s northern city of Darwin, where he was
taken for medical treatment, Ramos-Horta said more of the rebels who
tried to kill him could have been caught if Australia-led troops had
immediately locked-down the capital Dili.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he had spoken to
Ramos-Horta by phone in the past few days, and he defended the
actions of Australia’s military and its response to the attacks.

“I think our Australian forces handled this very effectively on the
ground, I defend their absolute professionalism in how that was dealt
with in very trying circumstances,” Rudd told reporters in Washington.

“The fact that Jose was able to be got to the international medical
facility at the Australian base in Dili so quickly, frankly is a
large part of the reason why we were able to help Jose pull through.”

Ramos-Horta told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television he lay
bleeding on ground for 30 minutes after being shot, before being
picked up by an ambulance which did not have a medic on board.

He said he was not angry about the Australian response, but said the
Australian forces, under the United Nations command, could have done
more to capture the attackers.

He said Australian medics and soldiers saved his life, giving him
blood transfusions at an Australian military base before he was flown
to Darwin for emergency surgery.

“I would say that Australian-led forces could have promptly
surrounded the entire town, closing all the exits, using helicopter,
sending immediately elements to my house to get the information on
the ground,” he said.

“They would have captured them within hours, because for many hours
after the attack on my house they were still in the hills around my house.”

Reinado was killed in the attack but other rebel soldiers managed to
escape and many have still not been captured. Gusmao escaped unharmed
from an attack on his car.

Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon also defended the
military response to the shooting.

“Of course, the president was in no position really, at the time, to
properly judge the timing,” he told Australian radio on Friday.

East Timor, Asia’s youngest nation has been unable to achieve
stability since its hard-won independence from Indonesia in 2002.

The army tore apart along regional lines in 2006, when about 600
soldiers were sacked, triggering factional violence that killed 37
people and drove 150,000 from their homes.

Australia has about 1,000 troops and police leading an international
force helping to keep order in the former Portuguese colony of about
one million people.

Kiwis Play Role Turning Guerillas Into Soldiers

Friday, 28 March 2008, 10:36 am

Press Release: New Zealand Defence Force

New Zealand Defence Force

Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Advisory

28 March 2008


New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel are playing a key role in
training and modernising the F-FDTL – the former guerrilla army which
has become Timor-Leste’s national defence force.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Major General Rhys Jones has been
in Timor-Leste to see first hand the work that New Zealanders are doing.

“Guerrilla fighters are very different in their structure and
operations from a professional defence force. A standing professional
army has a lot of logistical, administrative and training
requirements that a guerrilla force does not”, said Major General Jones.

“NZDF personnel have provided training to the F-FDTL across a wide
range of professional disciplines. For example our logistics trainers
have had to cover everything from how to physically stack stores and
manage a warehouse to the development and writing of strategic
logistics policy.

“The feedback from NZDF personnel working with the F-FDTL has been
extremely positive, they all enjoy the challenges of the role and the
rewards of watching the F-FDTL assimilate what they are taught and
work along the path of evolution from guerrilla force to professional army.

“The transition from guerrilla force to professional army can not be
achieved overnight and we are working with our Portugese and
Australian colleagues to constantly review and adapt the training to
meet the needs of the F-FDTL and ensure that the training and
assistance we provide them is both practical and relevant.

“We have to constantly review the training we provide for relevance
and work with the F-FDTL to ensure we are meeting their needs. This
is something I am proud that NZDF personnel are involved in, and
creating a professional disciplined military force in a young country
can only be a good thing”, said Major General Jones.


Updates from USAID/Timor-Leste

Updates from USAID/Timor-Leste

Expansion of Candlenut Oil Industry

Timor-Leste has been exporting candlenut oil to
Hawaii since 2005, as a result of focused
business assistance by USAID to local processing
factory Acelda. To expand the country’s
production of candlenut, USAID has signed a
memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as well as
various farmers’ groups. USAID also linked up the
farmers’ groups with Acelda. (March 26, 2008)

First Cattle Export of 2008

In early March, the National Cooperatives
Business Association (NCBA) and Cooperativa Café
Timor (CCT) facilitated the exportation of 70
fattened bulls from farmer members in Covalima
and Manufahi to West Timor, Indonesia. This is
the first cattle exportation activity for 2008.
CCT cattle exports to Indonesia amounted to over
$150,000 in 2007. Prospects are good for
Timor-Leste’s cattle exports as the NCBA cattle
fattening project has built a reputation for
high-quality bull and the price of beef in the
region is on the rise. (March 26, 2008)

Literacy Training for Enclave’s Women

Over a hundred rural women from across the
Oecusse enclave celebrated International Women’s
Day with a graduation ceremony from a
USAID-supported six-month literacy and numeracy
training and a workshop-exhibition that
highlighted their successful small business
practices. Since 2005, USAID has paid special
attention to numeracy and business management
training for Timor-Leste’s rural women to help
them identify business opportunities and increase
their income. The enclave’s women are starting to
gain a reputation in the country for being
“nearly all literate” to the credit of USAID’s
local partners. (March 26, 2008)

“Children’s Newspaper” Gets a Boost

Through a pilot program, USAID is supporting
‘Jornal Labarik,’ or ‘Children’s Newspaper’ to
boost production and distribution of its
newspapers to over 1,000 primary and secondary
schools and nearly 450 adult literacy classes
throughout the country. With a national literacy
rate of less than 50 percent, and a dearth of
reading materials in local languages, ‘Jornal
Labarik’ is serving as an important resource
material in the country delivering important
messages on child rights, education, health,
peace building, and civic duty. (March 10, 2008)

On-the-Job Training for Tourism Graduates

Timor-Leste’s young tourism industry received a
critical boost through a USAID-sponsored
internship program for 27 hospitality and tourism
school graduates. Nine hotels and restaurants in
the country’s capital, Dili, are participating in
the program. In a country with high unemployment
and underemployment rates, the program is
providing youth with productive employment
opportunities while strengthening the
relationship between academic institutions and the industry. (March 10, 2008)

Immunization Coverage Up Since 2005

The latest data from the Ministry of Health shows
increased immunization coverage in 2006 and 2007:
with measles immunization coverage now at 63%
from 43%, and diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus
(DPT3) coverage now at 70% from 49%. Timor-Leste
Asisténcia Integradu Saúde (TAIS, a partnership
of BASICS and Immunization BASICS) has been
providing technical assistance to the Ministry of
Health at the district and sub-district levels to
increase immunization service quality and
coverage under USAID’s Maternal and Child Health programs. (February 20,2008)

Prime Minister Appeals to Media

In a public lecture organized by the
International Center for Journalists (ICFJ),
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao appealed to the
Timorese media to be more responsible and
professional in its news reporting, emphasizing
that freedom of expression comes with great
responsibility. The public lecture on “Press
Freedom” was held following recent statements by
the Prime Minister which the media interpreted as
threatening their freedom of expression. ICFJ is
implementing USAID’s Strengthening Independent
Media program. (January 28, 2008)

Nationwide Civic Education Campaign

USAID, through the Small Grants Program, is
supporting three Timorese organizations–East
Timor Insight (ETIS), Bibi Bulak Group, and Radio
Rakambia–to conduct a nationwide civic education
campaign called “Do you want to Know? Find Out
Yourself!” for the communities in 65 locations
around the country. The campaign will use locally
made civic education videos, proven to be one of
the most powerful media in Timor-Leste, to inform
people about civic responsibilities, improved
health, gender equality and protecting the
environment. Campaigns will run from January
through March and hope to reach populations that
are currently out of reach of the national
broadcaster Televizaun Timor-Leste. (January 14, 2008)