Monthly Archives: July 2009

Alkatiri challenges Prime Minister Gusmo to fight in the court

Suara Timor Loro Sae , 28 July 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
Fretilin Secretary General Mari Alkatiri has challenged Prime Minister
Xanana Gusmo to fight in the court, because the current Government had
accused the former Fretilin Government of engaging in corruption.

Environment – President says one thing–

Heavy oil is a way to improve peoples lives
Timor Newsline , 29 July 2009- Summary by Alberico Junior
State Secretary for Environment, Abilio Lima said in improving peoples
lives the Government should implement the heavy oil power supply
project, as it would help support the countrys economy.

JRH speech on climate change

[Text provided by the office of the President. Video of the speech and
other information about this conference are available at

Remarks by H. E. José Ramos-Horta
President of Timor-Leste
And Nobel Peace Prize Laureate


Human Impact of Climate Change,
Global Humanitarian Forum 2009
Geneva, 23-24th June 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Annan, Presidents, Your Highness, Ministers, Eminent
scientists, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a privilege to be here in the midst of some of the best minds of
the world to listen to you all on the Human Impact of Climate Change. I
thank H. E. Kofi Annan for being so kind in inviting me to participate
in this forum. I don’t know whether I can add much to the volumes of
credible, scientific and verifiable data on the ground about this
growing human calamity. But here I am in response to H. E. Kofi Annan’s
kind invitation.

My country, Timor-Leste, attained full sovereignty only seven years ago
and it was Kofi Annan who presided over the nation-building of
Timor-Leste, with vision and compassion, from 1999 to 2002. To him and
the late Sergio Vieira De Mello, his Special Representative for
Timor-Leste from 1999 to 2002, goes our eternal gratitude.

Timor-Leste fits in the category of Least Developed Countries (LDC),
post-conflict, vulnerable, fragile States. This says all. The challenges
we face since 2002 are no different from those faced by many others who
have been on the world stage far longer – weak state institutions with
very limited delivery capacity, an inexperienced Public Administration,
lack of modern infrastructures like first class roads, bridges, reliable
power supply, efficient and affordable telecommunications, hospitals,
schools, doctors and teachers. Literacy is still very low particularly
among women and girls.

However, we have also made significant progress. We have come a long way
in reconciling among ourselves, healing the wounds of the past, and
reconciling with those who were at another trench. Our relations with
Indonesia are exemplary and I would say no two countries locked in a
long bitter conflict have reconciled so fast and so thoroughly as
Timor-Leste and Indonesia. But we have also reconciled with the powers
that be that contributed directly to our suffering with the provision of
weapons to the much detested regime.

Our economy grew 12.5% in 2008 and 8% the previous year. We expect a
continuing strong growth this year.

We are a modest oil and gas producing country with revenues totaling no
more than US$100 million/monthly. More fields are being found that will
double our country’s petroleum revenues in the next few years.

In 2005 we established a Petroleum Fund, governed by the strictest rules
of good management and oversight.

And we must be the only country in the world that did not suffer any
loss as all our petroleum revenues were invested in the relatively safe
US Treasury Bonds. We also do not have a single cent owing to anyone.

We are fully self-funded in terms of our National Budget which in 2009
is close to US$700 million. You should know that in 2002 when we
attained full independence our State Budget was a mere US$68 million and
some 40% were financed by donors.

We cannot complain of lack of financial resources and generous
international donor assistance even if often the so-called aid is not
entirely targeted on job creation, poverty alleviation, food security,
rural development.

Much of the aid money is spent on consultants, study missions, reports
and recommendations. Some 3,000 studies and reports have been done on
us. We have been psycho-analysed from every possible angle.

However, the reality is that poverty is still widespread; unemployment
is high worsened by a very high birth rate and a young population.

Now let me turn on to the topic of this conference. I begin by saying
that while I was impressed by the quality of the information available
from the Global Humanitarian Forum and the eloquence of the speakers we
heard yesterday and today, I am not at all convinced that leaders of the
powers that be are going to take imaginative and courageous steps in
saving our planet. Let me repeat: I do not believe.

Let me explain the reasons for my lack of hope and faith.

I ask, how many industrial countries have responded to the UN appeal
first made some 20 years ago to allocate 0,7% of their national income
for development assistance to poor countries? Only four small Nordic
countries have done so.

There is never money to assist the poor but there is always money to
wage wars and to rescue banks and insurance companies bankrupted by
corrupt, and incompetent and highly paid CEOs.

How many countries have agreed to open up their markets, tariff free,
for goods from developing countries? The rich advocate an almost
borderless world for trade but they heavily subsidized their farmers and
industries and imposed restrictive rules on agriculture imports from
Africa, Asia and Latin America.

How many weapons producing countries have acknowledged the immorality
and danger of conventional weapons sales to developing countries, in
particular, to regions in conflict and have reduced such exports?

How many armed nuclear countries have begun to destroy their nuclear

All of the above affect them, affect us. Weapons sold to one side of a
conflict will always end in the wrong side, sooner or later. We are all
worried about nuclear devices, biological and chemical weapons, ending
up in the hands of non-state actors. But there is no sign of anyone
trying to simply eliminate this possibility by clearing the world from
such weapons.

In view of the above, I have no illusions that in Copenhagen we are
going to see imaginative and swift action to commit all to save our
planet. There might be a consensus document, there might be even a solid
one that everyone will applaud and walk away declaring victory. But will
there be commitment in action to implement the pledges and binding norms
and targets? Will there be enough funding for developing countries to
deal with current impact of climate change?

Will there be enough money, no restrictions attached, and no
bureaucratic delays, for poor developing countries to assist them in
dealing with the consequences of decades of irresponsible greed of few?

We are all too familiar with the infamous pledges made by the rich in
pledging conferences but do not deliver on their commitments.

We in the developing world are responsible for less than 1% of global
emissions of green gases. But we are the ones who are paying a high
price for the greed and irresponsibility of the rich few and we will pay
even more.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In view of the above, as I see waters rising, floods surging, lands
sliding, rain patterns changing, followed by prolonged droughts, I will
say, I cannot just hope for others to do something about it.

We can continue to denounce the rich for their greed and
irresponsibility, but we must try to do small things, actually big
things, with our own resources and hands, to save our own countries, our
rivers and lakes, our seas and corals.

We must stop logging and destroying our forests, we must plant millions
of trees, preserve rain water and rivers; we must stop dumping plastics
and other non-degradable and toxic materials into our rivers and seas;
we must prevent over fishing and the depletion of our fish stock.

If we do this in every country, every island, and in every tropical
region from the Amazon basin to the Coral Triangle, we will mitigate the
impact of climate change; we might not have to witness the disappearance
of some islands, peoples and cultures in the next decades.

We heard yesterday the moving speech by the President of Kiribati. I was
almost in tears when he told us how his people might have to resettle
elsewhere as their islands disappear in the next decades, in our life

Islanders and indigenous peoples are deeply attached to the land more
than any other community. Let us pause and imagine the profound sadness,
trauma, emotional distress of those who are forced to live their
ancestral islands because they are sinking, disappearing under the
rising sea.

They will not be the only climate change refugees. In the next 30 to 50
years they will be joined by tens of millions from Asia to Africa. And
as they move to safer and higher grounds there will be conflicts with
others already there, all fighting for scarce land and water.

I do not assign all blame to the rich and the powerful. Maybe what we
are experiencing today is an inevitable consequence of the development
of human mind, of science, technology and industrialization. We could
not have told the people in the XVIII Century that they should not build
factories and power them with coal and fossil fuel; we could not tell
them not to manufacture the locomotive, ships, cars, tractors, and later

Life was simpler, there were fewer people some millions of years or just
even 500 years ago. Now we are six billion people sharing a shrinking
planet with shrinking resources.

So let us cherish the resources we have in each country, each island,
each village, and we might still have enough for all. We might still
save our planet. We might.

In my own country we have launched programs to reduce poverty, create
jobs and preserve the environment and consolidate peace.

With the government we have launched a clean city campaign where
everyday Friday morning thousands of civil servants are mobilized to
clean the city and neighborhoods, clear the clogged canals, rivers and

We have launched the “Dili – City of Peace” campaign to turn our city
and the whole country into an Island of Peace. My concept of peace is
that peace must start at home, within the family, in the schools, in the

Peace must mean end of domestic violence against women and children.
Peace must mean that we care about our elderly, the handicapped, HIV
victims, the poorest of the poor.

Peace means that we must be a model of solidarity and share our
resources with other peoples in need.

Even though we are a very new country with limited resources we made
contributions to peoples in China, Cuba, Burma and Indonesia affected by
natural disasters with a total grant close to US$2 million so far.

So I repeat let’s start in our own homes to try to save our common

May God the Almighty and the Merciful Bless Us All.

UN: Community police help reforest Timor-Leste

Date: 29 Jul 2009

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) is one of 11 UN
missions participating in the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign. Led by Community
Police officers from the UN and national police service, more than
2,500 native trees have so far been planted in seven districts across
the country. Tree species include tamarind, guava, mango, orange,
cloves, cinnamon, coffee, bougainvillea, mahogany and casuarina among
others “This is a lesson for everyone, and especially for people in
our village,” said village leader Adelino de Araujo from Ainaro
District. “The trees will protect us. They will give shade to people
and help avoid erosion.”

The involvement of community police in this activity has being
recognized by UN Headquarters through a certificate sent by UNEP
Director Achim Steiner thanking UNMIT for its participation in this
vital activity.

Community Police Team Leader Premalal Liyanarachchi believes that not
only did the activity promote public awareness of environmental
issues, but that it “helped to foster positive public perceptions
about the role of community police.” Riding on the success of the
tree planting, community police officers have pledged to plant
additional trees in Dili District. Worldwide, more than 4 billion
trees have so far been planted keeping UNEP on track to reach its 7
billion target by the end of 2009.


ETAN welcomes your support. Go to to
donate. Thank you.

John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: (718)596-7668 Mobile phone: (917)690-4391
Email; 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

Winners: John Rumbiak Human Rights Defender Award for 2009


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Don’t Train Indonesia’s Deadly Kopassus

Sign the Petition –

Don’t Train Indonesia’s Deadly Kopassus

(please spread the word!)

Indonesia’s Special Forces (Kopassus), more than any other in the
Indonesian military, stands accused by the Indonesian people of some of
the most egregious human rights violations.

The history of Kopassus human rights violations, its criminality and
its unaccountability before Indonesian courts extends back decades and
includes human rights and other crimes in East Timor, Aceh, West Papua
and elsewhere. The crimes of Kopassus are not only in the past. A
recently published Human Rights Watch report details ongoing Kopassus
human right violations in West Papua.

In 2008, the Bush administration proposed to restart U.S. training of
Kopassus. the State Department legal counsel reportedly ruled that the
ban on training of military units with a history of involvement in
human rights violations, known as the Leahy law, applies to Kopassus as
a whole.

See the letter signed by more than 50 U.S. organizations opposing
training for Kopassus:
Additional background about the crime of Kopassus here:

Tyneside East Timor Solidarity

Web site:

Timor violent? Try Melbourne: President Ramos-Horta]

Timor violent? Try Melbourne: President Ramos-Horta

(AFP) July 24, 2009

MELBOURNE ­ East Timor’s President Jose
Ramos-Horta on Friday urged Australians to ignore
the “bogus” travel warning against his country,
saying violence was also common in Melbourne.

Ramos-Horta took issue with Australia’s travel
advisory, which warns of gang violence, civil
unrest and robbery, and said tourists would enjoy
visiting the tiny, impoverished state.

“It is a very, very peaceful country with
fantastic people who will welcome you,” the Nobel
Peace Prize winner said during a visit for the
Melbourne International Film Festival.

“Don’t pay any attention to the bogus travel
advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs in
Canberra, always advising Australians not to go to East Timor,” he added.

“Having learned about the level of violence in
Melbourne and elsewhere, I will start issuing travel warnings for Australia.”

Dozens of people died when rioting erupted in
Dili in 2006, prompting the UN to send in police
backed by Australian and New Zealand troops.

Canberra’s travel advice warns the situation
remains unstable, stating: “Violence could occur
anywhere at any time in East Timor.”

Ramos-Horta dismissed the warnings and pointed to
Australia’s own problems with violence, including
a wave of attacks on Indian students and a hit on
a notorious gangland figure in Melbourne last month.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

Ombudsman Recommends Prosecution of Justice Minister

Radio Australia
July 23, 2009

East Timor Ombudsman Recommends Prosecution of Justice Minister

East Timor’s Ombudsman is calling for the country’s Minister of
Justice to be prosecuted, over allegations of corruption, following
calls from the country’s opposition for Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao
to resign, following revelations he authorised a multi-million dollar
rice-importation contract to a company linked to his daughter.

The Ombudsman says his office has launched an investigation into the
Ministry of Commerce and Industry over that – and a number of other
deals – authorised by Mr Gusmao.

Presenter: Stephanie March

Speakers: Sebastiao Ximenes, East Timor Ombudsman; Jose Ramos-Horta,
East Timorese President

MARCH: East Timor’s ombudsman Sebastiao Ximenes says corruption is a
serious problem in the country’s administration

XIMENES: The corruption in Timor-Leste, we can say that maybe the
problem is the control of our Ministers against civil servants, or
maybe the control from the top leader, to the minister, so that is
the problem we face in Timor Leste.

MARCH: Late last year, allegations surfaced that East Timor’s Justice
Minister Lucia Lobato had colluded with a friend in order for that
friend to secure a $US1 million contract to rebuild a wall at the
Becora prison in the capital DIli.

At the time Ms Lobato said she welcomed an investigation by the
ombudsman into the allegations.

She said she was prepared to face justice – without using her
ministerial immunities – if it found she was involved in any wrongdoing.

The ombudsman, Sebastiao Ximenes, has now passed on his findings to
the office of the Prosecutor General.

MARCH: So have you recommended to the Prosecutor General to prosecute
the Justice Minister or just investigate further?

GRAB: Yes, investigate further, and also to prosecute. Not only
Minister of Justice, we also found some companies involved in this

MARCH: So both the minister and the companies?


The Minister of Justice has not responded to requests by Radio
Australia to comment.

The recommendation follows recent revelations East Timor’s Prime
Minister Xanana Gusmao signed off on a $US3.5 million contract to a
company part owned by his daughter, Zenilda Gusmao.

The company – Prima Food – was one of 17 companies awarded government
contracts to import rice into East Timor.

Several of the companies are part owned by the wife of another
government minister.

The contracts totalled $UA 56 million.

The opposition has called for Mr Gusmao to step down.

Mr Ximenes says his office has now launched an investigation into the
the circumstances surrounding the Prime Minister and Commerce
Minister’s approval of the contracts.

XIMENES: I receive a letter from Mr Ramos-Horta, the President of the
Republic, to request to our office to conduct investigation against
Minister of Commerce and tourist, that is why I mention we already

MARCH: President Jose Ramos Horta has conceded there’s a chance of
making mistakes when multimillion dollar contracts are signed by
government officials.

Dr Horta has defended the Prime Minister’s role in authorising the
contract to the company linked to his daughter.

HORTA: I think corruption is serious in Timor Leste but I reject the
charges that top government officials are involved like the prime
minister. Tthe prime minister is a very very honest person, he wants
to do things fast.

MARCH: Sebastiao Ximenes say he hopes the investigation into the
issuing of rice-import contracts will be complete in two months.

But he says that depends heavily on cooperation of the government
officials and companies involved.

XIMENES: When our office invite them to come the office, sometimes
they have some excuse not to come… So that’s a problem that we face.

MARCH: Even if the investigation is completed in the expected time
frame and passed on to the prosecutor general, Mr Ximenes says East
Timor’s legal system already has a backlog of corruption cases.

XIMENES: The Prosecutor General already received from our office 28
case for corruption, but not one case they forward to the court…
but I believe the problem they face is manpower – no prosecutors.

MARCH: East Timor’s parliament recently passed legislation to set-up
an anti-corruption commission that would take on the role of the
Ombudsman in dealing corruption allegations.

The commission has not yet been properly established.

Rede ba Rai Press Release: Los Palos: US Ambassador and the Minister for Justice bring the Draft La

Tetum iha kraik.

*Los Palos: US Ambassador and the Minister for Justice **bring the Draft
Land Law to Lautem*

* *

*18 July*

On Tuesday 14th July, the Minister for Justice Lucia Lobato and US
Ambassador Hans G. Klemm brought the Draft Land Law (which was written
with support from the USAID ‘Ita Nia Rai’ project) to Los Palos.

In total 17 people were given 50 minutes to share their opinions before
the Minister and US Ambassador had to cut the meeting short (1.10pm) in
order to fly back to Dili.

*Some comments from the speakers;*

‘Today is a happy day, an important day for Lautem where we share our
thoughts on the new land law – in order to resolve land conflicts we
need a law that is truly appropriate to the people of Timor’ – District
Administrator of Lautem.

‘You see the impact of this project in the fact that there are so many
[232] participants here this morning’, US Ambassador, Sr. Hans G. Klemm.

‘All people have the right to share their opinions with the Minister’ –
Director of DNTPSC, Sr. Antonio Verdial de Sousa.

‘It is great to see the democratic process in operation like this in the
districts’ – UNMIT representative.

‘The Minister does not need to hear your stories about land, only
substantive suggestions about the law will be accepted’ – discussion

‘All submissions sent to would be considered for
incorporation’ – Minister for Justice, Sra. Lucia Lobato.

*Some comments from participants;*

Paulino Santos (Lautem District), ‘what is the point in giving our
opinions, the government is not really interested, in order to do this
meeting properly we need a minimum of 4 days’

‘We have much experience with this type of meeting format, what happens
is that we do not get to share our opinions’ – Joaniko Jeronimu

Jose Vilanova (Xefe Suko Mehara), after being cut off for talking about
the history of land in Suko Mehara, said that ‘in order to understand
the situation here you must listen to the past’.

‘How can I get access to the internet to send my thoughts to the
minister?’ – Women’s Representative, Suko Fuiloro.

Pedro Vieira, Rede ba Rai Monitoring Co-ordinator summed up that
participants had come from the 34 Suko’s of Lautem district because they
were worried about their land rights, ‘in particular people are
worried, and rightly so, about state, church and international power
over their land’.

For further information and public comment please contact Meabh Cryan
from the Rede ba Rai at +670 730 7800 , Pedro Vieira at +670 7269038
or email

Rede ba Rai is supported by joint funding from IrishAid, Concern
Worldwide noTrócaire.


*Los Palos: Embaixadór husi Estadus Unidus no Ministra da *

***Justisa lori Ezbozu Lei de Terras ba Lautem*

* *

*18 Julhu 2009*

Tersa-feira 14 Julhu Ministra de Justisa, Lucia Lobato no Embaixadór
Amerika, Sr. Hans G. Klemm mak lori Ezbozu Lei de Terras (ne’ebé
hakerek ho supporta husi USAID sira no projetu ‘Ita Nia Rai’) ba
Distritu Lautem.

Hotu hamutuk ema nain 17 hetan minutu 50 deit atu fahe sira nian hanoin
antes Ministra no Sr. Klemm tenki taka enkontru molok ajenda remata
(tuku 1.10 lokraik) atu fila ba Dili ho avion.

*Komentáriu ruma husi oradór sira;***

‘Ohin loron haksolok, ne’e loron importante ba distritu Lautem tamba
ita mai hamutuk atu fahe ita-nia hanoin kona-bá Lei de Terras foun –
atu rezolva konflitu rai ita presiza harii lei ne’ebé serve duni’ –
Administradór Distritu Lautem.

‘Ita bele haree katak projetu ida ne’é iha impaktu bo’ot ba ema tamba
partisipante barak [232] ne’ebé mai tuir enkontru ne’e ohin dadere’ –
Embaixadór Estadus Unidus Sr. Hans G. Klemm.

‘Ema hotu hotu iha direitu atu fahe sira-nia opinaun ho Ministra’ –
Diretor DNTPSC, Sr. Antonio Verdial de Sousa.

‘Diak tebes atu haree prosesu ne’ebe demokratiku la’o hanesan ne’e iha
distritu’ – representante husi UNMIT.

‘Ministra la hakarak rona ita bo’ot nian istoria kona-ba rai, deit ita
bo’ot nia sujestaun kona-ba kontuidu lei’ – moderador diskusaun.

‘Submisaun hotu sei haruka ba sei konsidera atu hatama
iha Lei’ – Ministra de Justisa, Sra. Lucia Lobato.

*Komentáriu ruma husi partisipante-sira;*

Paulino Santos (Distritu Lautem), ‘Governu la interesadu kona-ba ita-nia
opinaun entaun tamba-sa ita sei fó ita-nia opinaun? Atu fo komentariu
ne’ebe effetivu presiza minimum loron 4’.

‘Ita iha esperiensa ona ho formatu hanesan enkontru ida ne’e, resultadu
ne’ebe, ita la hetan oportunidade atu fahe ita-nia hanoin’ – Joaniko
Jeronimu (Iliomar).

Depois moderadór teri nia liafuan tamba nia fó istoraia rai Suko Mehara
Jose Vilanova (Xefe Suko Mehara) – mak dehan katak, ‘atu komprende
situasaun iha ne’e ita tenki rona ho ita-nia pasadu’.

‘Oinsa hau bele asesu internet atu haruka hau-nia hanoin ba Ministra?’ –
Representante Feto husi Suko Fuiloro.

Pedro Vieira, co-ordenadór monitoizasaun husi Rede ba Rai mak fó nia
analisa, ne’ebe katak ’ema barak, husi suko hotu hotu (34 iha distritu
Lautem) mak tuir enkontru ida ne’e tamba sira tauk, ho razaun, koná-ba
estado, igreja, no estranjeiro sira nian kbiit atu foti rai iha nasaun

Ba informasaun tan ka halo intrevista, bele kontaktu ba Pedro Viera husi
Rede ba Rai at +67… ka email

Rede ba Rai Timor-Leste hetan apoiu husi IrishAid, Concern Worldwide no

‘Britain should bear some responsibility for Timor Leste’

see pictures at

TIMOR LESTE ‘Britain should bear some responsibility for Timor Leste’

July 21, 2009 | TL07615.1559

LONDON (UCAN) — As the 10th anniversary of the
UN-sponsored referendum for Timor Leste’s
independence approaches, a yearlong campaign by a
Catholic agency to raise awareness of the country
in Britain is reaching its climax.

On Aug. 30, 1999, the people of Timor Leste voted
overwhelmingly to sever ties with Indonesia,
which had occupied their land for 25 years
following the withdrawal of former colonial
ruler, Portugal. During Indonesian rule, up to
200,000 East Timorese are reported to have died
due to famine, the independence struggle and reprisals.

After the independence vote, pro-Jakarta militia
went on a rampage that left hundreds dead.

Britain must bear some responsibility for the
tragedies, says Progressio, an international
Catholic advocacy and development agency. This is
because Britain sold a total of £287.75 million
(US$475 million) of arms to Indonesia during the occupation period.

Since independence, says Progressio, Timor Leste
has been wracked by poverty with today about half
the population unemployed and 45 per cent living
on less than US$1 a day. Moreover, there is
continuing violence between political and ethnic rivals.

Britain has given £1 million to the World Bank
Trust Fund for the overwhelmingly Catholic
country but recently announced it had no further
plans to contribute. It funds other programs and
agencies in the area, but Progressio says in a
recent statement that “even the most optimistic
estimates suggest this is less than 10 per cent
of what the UK earned in arms sales.”

It went on: “We are now asking the UK government
to acknowledge its role in the occupation and
repression of the East Timorese people by funding
comprehensive capacity-building and rehabilitation programs.”

For the past year, Progressio has been running a
campaign to persuade Britain to do more for Timor
Leste. It campaigns in schools and among parishes
and youth groups. It is also lobbying members of
parliament directly as well as supporting a
petition organized by activists in Timor Leste
which will be presented to visiting dignitaries
at the anniversary celebrations.

Progressio’s most recent project was an
exhibition of photographs of Timor Leste held at
the Houses of Parliament just before MPs left for
their summer recess, opened on July 6. The newly
appointed Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols of
Westminster attended the event.

“The exhibition was staged in a hall which all
MPs must pass through on their way in and out of
the Chamber,” said Progressio spokesman Jo
Barrett. “It attracted a lot of attention … we
are confident that it met with a good response.”

At the exhibition, Progressio presented the
Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis, an MP, with
hundreds of messages from the British public
calling for justice for Timor Leste.

Lewis praised the campaign and said it was
“incredibly important” to recognize the important
contribution faith played in solving some of the world’s worst problems.

He also praised the testimony of Zequito de
Oliveiro, an East Timorese, who spoke movingly at
the launch of the deaths of family members,
including two brothers, in the violence.

Progressio was founded in 1940 as the Sword of
the Spirit, in response to the silence of the
Church hierarchy to the rise of fascism. In the
1950s, it started providing information to people
inside and outside the Church about international
affairs. In 1965, it changed its name to the
Catholic Institute for International Relations
(CIIR) and set up an overseas volunteer program.

It is still legally known as the CIIR but in 2006
changed its name to Progressio after Pope Paul
VI’s 1967 encyclical “Populorum Progressio” (On
the Development of Peoples) — to reflect its
dual mission of recruiting development workers
and advocacy on behalf of developing nations.

At the height of political violence in 2006,
Sister Guilhermina Marcal helped care for about
23,000 people sheltering in the grounds of the
Canossian Convent at Balide in Dili. Today, that
number stands at about 1,400. Sister Guilhermina
campaigns for those who have been displaced by
violence, saying they will never be able to
return home without financial and emotional
support. Dili, 2008. — Photo by Progressio (

A salt worker uses a bamboo tube to pour seawater
through a clay filter to make salt crystals. This
is the first step in a long and labor intensive
process, which brings whole families to the salt
flats each day from 4 am. With unemployment at 50
per cent, many Timorese have to take what little
work they can get. Liquica province, Timor Leste,
2008. — Photo by Progressio (

Antonio da Silva of Timor Leste, a staunch critic
of independence, lost part of his left ear when
men opposed to his political views attacked him.
Their prosecution stands in stark contrast to
today’s situation in the country that sees many criminals go
free. Dili, 2008. — Photo by Progressio (

Unemployed with five children to care for, Jose
Menezes Nunes Serrao survived an attempted beheading in April 1999 when
pro-Indonesia militiamen attacked a local parish church in
Timor Leste. Today, he campaigns for the Indonesian authorities
to reveal the location of the unmarked mass
graves of up to 200 people who died in the
attack. Liquica, Timor Leste, 2008. —
Photo by Progressio (

Angelita Pires Trial

Trials begin over 2008 Horta-Gusmao “assassination attempt”
By Patrick O’Connor
18 July 2009

Dual East Timorese and Australian citizen Angelita Pires is now on
facing a series of charges relating to last year’s so-called
and coup attempt against the country’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and
President Jose Ramos-Horta. The court, which convened last Monday, has
the prosecution allege that Pires is guilty of attempted murder and
to kill the president on the grounds that she was the “indirect author”
these events.

Initial proceedings have underscored the numerous unanswered
contradictions and
far-reaching political interests involved in the events of February 11,

The official account, first promoted by the Timorese government and the
Australian media and now advanced by Pires’s prosecutors, is that
Reinado—Pires’s partner and former military-police commander—had led his
men in an unsuccessful coup attempt and was killed after attacking
and his security detail. Along with Pires, 23 ex-soldiers and 4 of their
associates, including Reinado’s senior colleague Gastao Salsinha, are on
trial. President Ramos-Horta has suggested that he may pardon the men.

The official account is unsupported by the evidence and believed by
no-one in East Timor. Based on what is now known, it is almost certain
Reinado and his men were lured into Dili, after being told they had an
appointment for a discussion with Ramos-Horta, in order to be executed.
World Socialist Web Site was alone in raising this possibility
after the February 11 events.

Pires has rejected the charges laid against her. Her Australian
barrister Jon
Tippett, QC has said that the trial highlights the disastrous state of
Timorese legal system, which he described as “one of the most
failures that the United Nations has ever engaged in”.

Pires’s legal team received access to the prosecution’s voluminous files
just days before the trial opened, rather than the months normally
granted to
allow adequate preparation. “I’m very concerned about it being a fair
trial,” Tippett told the ABC, “because I’ve now had complete access to
volumes of the prosecution case and there is no substantive evidence or
properly admissible evidence that could possibly support any of the
that have been brought against her. Now in those circumstances I would
any responsible prosecuting authority to withdraw these charges against
her at
the earliest opportunity. The fact that the case is still going to trial
me concern that this is not a legal case, it’s a political case.”

Significantly, Tippett has indicated that he intends to prove Pires’s
innocence by demonstrating that Reinado was killed after attending what
believed was a meeting arranged with Ramos-Horta. “The evidence seems to
point to a different story to the one which people have been receiving
the media and certainly from sources in the government of Timor-Leste to
date,” the lawyer told Timorese newspaper Tempo Semanal. “The [real]
seems to be one of Reinado coming to meet the president and in the
course of
that event he’s shot at extremely close range … in what appears to be

Prosecutors last week attempted to have Tippett and Pires’s other senior
counsel, Brazilian Zeni Arndt, thrown out of court on the grounds of
alleged lack of standing in Timor’s legal system. The two lawyers were
to sit in the viewing gallery for part of the first day’s proceedings,
the presiding judge ultimately decided to permit them to participate.

Pires’s defence lawyers have said they may call 150 witnesses, likely
resulting in court proceedings lasting several months.

The trial has the potential to prove highly damaging to both the
Timorese and
Australian governments. The immediate questions raised by the charge
Reinado was set up for assassination is: who was responsible and what
was the
motivation? In line with the legal adage cui bono?—who benefits—
must firstly fall upon forces around Gusmao as well as Australian
personnel in
Dili and Canberra.

/Reinado, Gusmao, and the Australian government/

Born in 1967, Reinado fled Indonesian-occupied East Timor for Australia
1995. He returned during the country’s transition to formal independence
joined the newly created armed forces; from 2003 to 2005 he spent
months studying and training with the Australian army in Canberra. Then
in May
2006, as commander of a platoon of military police, Reinado and his men
the mutiny of a section of the army known as the “petitioners”, who had
rebelled against the Fretilin government led by Prime Minister Mari

The exact circumstances leading up to the split in the military remain
but there is evidence suggesting that then President Xanana Gusmao was
centrally involved in preparing the provocation as a means of
destabilising the
Alkatiri administration. Gusmao had been openly siding with the most
sections of the Timorese elite, who were opposed to the Fretilin
government—including former Indonesian militia members, criminal gangs,
larger landowners, and the powerful Catholic Church.

The Australian government was also a leading participant. It seized upon
petitioners’ uprising to dispatch more than one thousand Australian and
Zealand soldiers to the impoverished state as part of a calculated
regime-change operation. The media played an especially foul role, with
ABC’s “Four Corners” program promoting baseless accusations that the
prime minister had formed a hit squad to assassinate his opponents.
eventually acquiesced to the pressure, and chose to hand over power in
rather than risk a popular movement against the coup plotters developing
Fretilin’s control.

Reinado enjoyed close relations with both Gusmao and the Australian
After he had taken up arms against the elected government, and killed
security force personnel in a vicious ambush in Dili, Gusmao wrote
Reinado a
friendly letter encouraging him to withdraw his men from the capital.
president subsequently paid for Reinado’s hotel bill when the soldier
in the central town of Ailieu for six weeks. During this time the
held talks with high-ranking Australian military personnel and was feted
in the
Australian media as a “folk hero” heading a popular movement against the

What followed was a series of murky episodes that pointed to the close
between Reinado and Australian military and intelligence personnel. In
2006, Portuguese police arrested the former soldier in a Dili house,
which he
had used to store weapons and which was located directly opposite an
military base. A few weeks later Reinado was somehow able to walk out of
prison that Australian and New Zealand troops were responsible for
guarding. In
March 2007, shortly after a proposed deal on Reinado’s surrender—
with Gusmao and Ramos-Horta—fell through, the Australian government
100 elite SAS troops to lead a raid on Reinado’s base in the central
town of Same. The former major was again somehow able to evade
walking away from the clash unscathed. Later, after Gusmao and
called off the official manhunt, Reinado and the Australian army
information about each other’s movements—using Angelita Pires as the

The turning point in Reinado’s various manoeuvres came in January 2008,
he released a DVD accusing Gusmao of being behind the 2006 crisis, and
threatened to provide additional details in future statements. Reinado’s
damning allegation, apparently triggered by a breakdown in negotiations
Gusmao over the terms of his surrender, exacerbated the crisis of the
minister’s unstable coalition government.

On February 7 last year, President Ramos-Horta convened a meeting of
parliamentarians from both government and opposition parties to announce
support for Fretilin’s demand for new elections, which Gusmao was
resisting. Canberra no doubt also viewed with extreme alarm the prospect
another national vote, having expended significant resources, firstly in
ousting Alkatiri in 2006, and then in assisting the coming to power of
Gusmao government through the 2007 parliamentary elections held under
Australian military occupation.

Ramos-Horta scheduled further discussions on the question of a fresh
election—but these were never held. Reinado was killed just four days
the initial meeting. His death fortuitously eclipsed the threat that
true tole in the 2006 crisis would emerge. Moreover, Gusmao seized on
so-called coup attempt to announce a “state of siege”, under which he
assumed sweeping authoritarian powers. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
rushed to dispatch another 190 soldiers and federal police, bolstering
increasingly unpopular Australian occupation force.

There was, therefore, ample reason for both Gusmao and Canberra to want
eliminated. On the other hand, no-one has ever provided a plausible
as to why Reinado would want to kill Ramos-Horta. Certainly prosecutors
in the
Pires trial have so far provided no motive. The president had visited
in mid-January and agreed to a secret amnesty deal that would see the
major avoid imprisonment in return for surrendering his arms and
returning to
Dili. Ramos-Horta, in other words, was Reinado’s best—and last—hope of
securing his freedom.

/Prosecution contradictions/

There are countless outstanding questions regarding the events of
February 11.
How did Reinado and his men avoid detection by Australian troops and
police as
they travelled as an armed convoy up to President Ramos-Horta’s
Did Australian intelligence agencies have prior knowledge of what has
planned, given that Reinado made dozens of mobile phone calls, including
Australia and Indonesia, in the days before his death? Did the alleged
on Gusmao’s vehicle, led by Reinado’s associate Gastao Salsinha,
take place, or was it a staged fraud, as Fretilin leader Mari Alkatiri

A full and comprehensive account of what happened may never emerge;
evidence was deliberately sabotaged in the aftermath of Reinado’s
The bodies of Reinado and Leopoldino Exposto were moved and tampered
with by
Timorese police and soldiers, Reinado’s clothing was removed, his mobile
phone used, and his weapon interfered with. The rifle used to shoot
Reinado and
Leopoldino from point-blank range has never been properly examined.

The prosecution’s case has already begun to unravel, after just five
days of
court proceedings.

Reinado’s fellow “rebel”, Marcelo Caetano is accused of shooting
President Ramos-Horta. This is despite Ramos-Horta himself previously
the media that Caetano was not responsible. “Marcelo Caetano was wrongly
accused,” the president told the Age in October last year. “I never said
was him. It was a media beat-up.”

This “media beat-up” is now the central pivot upon which the prosecution
apparently hopes to build its case. Two of Ramos-Horta’s guards
this week that the gunman who shot Ramos-Horta was wearing a balaclava
at the
time. One, Pedro Soares, said he could not identify the man because his
was hidden, but the other, Isaac da Silva, insisted that the attacker
definitely Caetano and that he recognised him, “from the way he was
and his attitude”. Lawyers for the accused noted that da Silva’s
contradicted his earlier statement to investigators in which he said
that he
had not recognised the gunman. Also unexplained is the contradiction
the prosecution’s charge that Ramos-Horta’s attacker was wearing a
balaclava with the president’s statement, again made to the Age last
that he had seen the gunman’s “face and eyes” immediately before the

Ramos-Horta, who has issued numerous statements against Pires in the
lead up to
the trial, is now remaining silent.