Monthly Archives: August 2009

Ramos-Horta’s ‘forgiving’ stance under fire

ABC News 31st August 2009

By Indonesia correspondent Geoff Thompson

As East Timor celebrates a decade of self-rule, President Jose
Ramos-Horta has called for an end to all United Nations-led
investigations into the serious crimes committed along the nation’s road
to independence.

But it is a controversial stance, and a victim of the violence in 1999
says she is now ashamed of her country’s head of state.

Last night, Indonesian pop star Krisdayanti flirted with tens of
thousands of East Timor’s people and danced on stage with the two giants
of the country’s struggle for independence – Prime Minister Xanana
Gusmao and Mr Ramos-Horta.

It took place on Dili’s foreshore in front of the Portuguese-built
governor’s offices, which were overtaken by Indonesia’s administrators
and now house East Timor’s own leaders.

And where Krisdayanti danced last night was exactly the place where, 10
years ago, journalists watched militia leader Eurico Guterres call for
his men to find and kill independence supporters.

And that is exactly what they did, including an attack on the house of
Manuel Carrascalao, which took the life of his young teenage son.

But such crimes should no longer be investigated by the United Nations
Serious Crimes Unit, Mr Ramos-Horta said yesterday.

He said the money would be better spent on East Timor’s young judiciary.

“My stated preference, both as a human being, victim, and head of state,
is that we, once and for all, move that 1975-99 chapters of our tragic
experience, forgive those who did harm to us,” he said.

“We must forgive our brothers and sisters and those in the Indonesian
army who committed heinous crimes against us.”

I first met Christine Carrascalao in 1999 when, strong but utterly
distraught, she attended a Sunday Mass just two days after Eurico’s men
killed her little brother, known as Manuelita.

Ten years later, she does not agree with her President’s ideas of
justice and forgiveness.

“Justice is not about forgiving. It is about setting what is right and
what is wrong,” she said.

“What you’ve done wrong in killing, murder, torture, you should teach
them a lesson that it cannot happen again because there will be
punishment.

“You cannot just say, sure it is fine, we’ll let everything go simply
because we want to. That should not be on.”

Ms Carrascalao says she is ashamed of her President.

“For not asking for justice, yes. For being afraid to ask for justice,
yes. Yes, I am,” she said.

(Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/08/31/2671245.htm)

The Dili Insider: Martenus Bere: Militia Commander released by Xanana Government

“As an anniversary ceremony was taking place, authorities in Dili
released an Indonesian citizen accused of leading one of the worst
massacres in East Timor in 1999. Martenus Bere was brought from cells at
Dili’s main jail and handed over to Indonesian officials. Bere, a
commander of a brutal pro-Indonesian militia group responsible for a
reign of terror, led an attack on a church in the town of Suai during
which three priests and dozens of people were killed. Prison officials
said Bere was released on the order of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. He
had been indicted for crimes against humanity by the UN’s Serious Crimes
Unit in 2003. Indonesian authorities had pressured East Timor to release
Bere after he was arrested two weeks ago after crossing the East Timor
border from Indonesian West Timor.”

Kapanlagi.com – Pemerintah Timor Leste akhirnya membebaskan Sekretaris
Camat (Sekcam) Kobalima Timur, Kabupaten Belu, Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT)
Martenus Bere yang ditahan di Dili sejak 9 Agustus atas tuduhan terlibat
kasus pembunuhan.
“Pemerintah Timor Leste sudah membebaskan Martenus Bere dan saat ini
sedang berada di Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia (KBRI) di Dili,” kata
Gubernur NTT, Frans Lebu Raya di Kupang, Minggu (30/8).
Bere, salah seorang warga negara Indonesia (WNI) ditangkap aparat
kepolisian Timor Leste di Suai, Distrik Covalima pada Minggu (9/8) atas
tuduhan terlibat dalam pembunuhan di Gereja Suai pada tahun 1999 pasca
jajak pendapat.
Bere ditangkap Polisi Nasional Timor Leste saat menghadiri sebuah
upacara adat almarhum ayahnya di Leogore Suai.
Gubernur mengatakan, proses pembebasan Martenus Bere ditangani langsung
oleh Menteri Luar Negeri (Menlu) RI, Hasan Wirajuda. Menlu tiba di
Kupang sejak Sabtu (29/8) dan terus melakukan koordinasi dengan
pemerintah Timor Leste untuk segera membebaskan Martenus Bere.
“Menlu diundang untuk menghadiri upacara kenegaraan di Timor Leste,
namun Menlu menyatakan tidak hadir, jika Martenus Bere tidak
dibebaskan,” kata Gubernur.
Pada Minggu, pukul 08.30 Wita, Menlu mendapat telepon dari Presiden
Timor Leste, Ramos Horta bahwa Martenus Bere telah dibebaskan. Sehingga
sekitar pukul 09.30 Wita, Menlu Wirajuda langsung berangkat menuju Timor
Leste dan mengikuti upacara kenegaraan di Dili.
Menurut rencana, kata Gubernur Lebu Raya, Menlu akan mengantar sendiri
Martenus Bere ke Kupang, namun batal dan langsung kembali ke Jakarta.
“Menlu minta maaf, karena tidak bisa mengantar sendiri Martenus Bere ke
Kupang,” kata Gubernur.
Hanya, proses pembebasan Martenus Bere telah dilakukan dan saat ini Bere
sudah berada di KBRI Dili dan dalam waktu dekat ini bisa kembali ke
Atambua, Belu.
Gubernur meminta agar kedua negara tetap menjaga hubungan persahabatan.
Jika terjadi masalah seperti penangkapan Martenus Bere diharapkan tidak
mengganggu persahabatan sudah berlangsung lama.
Mantan Wakil Panglima Pasukan Pejuang Integrasi (PPI) Timor Timur,
Eurico Guterres sebelumnya menyesalkan tindakan penangkapan yang
dilakukan Polisi Nasional Timor Leste (PNTL) Martenus Bere.
Guterres mengatakan, sebelum melakukan penangkapan, pemerintah Timor
Leste harus menyampaikan terlebih dahulu kepada pemerintah Indonesia
bahwa ada warga Indonesia yang diduga terlibat dalam pelanggaran HAM di
Timor Timur pada 1999.
Pemerintah Provinsi NTT juga menyurati Menlu dan KBRI meminta untuk
segera menyelesaikan proses hukum yang sedang dijalani dan segera
memulangkan Bere ke tempat asalnya. (kpl/riz)

Student Front press statement on arrests

Statement from Student Press conference:

KONFERENSIA DA IMPRENSA
Press Conference

National University of Timor-Leste, Kaikoli, Dili
31 August 2009

The Timor-Leste Student Front condemns the attitude of the members of
the National Police in relation to the arrest of the students when they
would like to demonstrate their solidarity to the people in other
countries that are still struggling for independence, on August 30th
2009. Therefore the Students’ Front condemns this attitude which is not
a example of professionalism of the National Police. Our position is as
follows:

1. The Students’ Front of Timor-Leste disagrees and
laments the attitude of the PNTL officers, who aggressively arrested
three students in front of the Hotel Timor.

2. We urge the government to improve the professionalism
of the PNTL so that they can serve the rule of law with professionalism
in the future.

3. We call to the state institutions of Timor-Leste to
maintain and secure the RDTL constitution, especially article 10 that
states that the Republic Democratic of TL is also in solidarity with
other people who are struggling to liberate their country.

4. We condemn the attitude of the PNTL which showed
disrespect to the “Freedom of Expression” that is guaranteed in the
Constitution of RDTL.

5. We urge the PNTL to cancel the decision to extend the
detention into 72 hours, because according to the law it needs strong
evidence of crime to do so. They might extend it to 72 hours, but the
students did not commit a crime.

6. We urge the Police to release the three students
within the time limit starting from 9 am until before 3 pm. If the they
haven’t been released within the time limit, we will organize the Youth
Front, the Street Vendors and the people of Maubere to organize a
demonstration in front of the National Police.

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Alkatiri Recalls Turbulent Decade

http://thejakartaglobe.com/news/east-timors-mari-alkatiri-recalls-turbulent-decade/326816

The Jakarta Globe

August 29, 2009
Ezki Suyanto

East Timor’s Mari Alkatiri Recalls Turbulent Decade

As East Timorese celebrate the 10th anniversary of the referendum that
led to the country’s independence, the Jakarta Globe presents
contributor Ezki Suyanto’s interview with the nation’s first prime
minister, Mari Alkatiri, 59, at his residence in Farol, Dili, at the end
of last month.

When you stepped down in 2006, you said there had been intervention from
outside. What did you mean?

I have no doubt. I still have no doubt. It’s clear to me that there was
a conspiracy. It started in mid-2005 when the Australian media began to
damage my image. The Australian government at that time was really a
conservative government.

It was clear that they were aware that after 2006, with oil and gas
revenues, I could do much better for this country. So this had to be
stopped and they succeeded in getting sympathy and support from inside
the country, even from Xanana [Gusmao]. The crisis was an internal
confrontation between the prime minister and the president of the
republic.

The president and the police were against the government because he
failed to get support from the F-FDTL (Timor Leste Defense Forces, also
known as Falintil) which also covers the police.

Is it the reason you say you do not want to be prime minister anymore?

A strong government needs a strong political party behind it. So it
would be much better to have the leader of the party working full time
for the party then to be too busy in the government. It does not mean
that I won’t help the government, of course I’ll do it. I have made it
clear to the central committee that I am not ready to go back, that the
party needs to be strong.

Fretelin is the majority party and has a simple majority in Parliament
with 29 percent of the seats. Why isn’t Fretilin in power?

It is a very peculiar situation in this country, in which some people do
not respect the will of the people. The leaders think that they are
stronger than the will of the people.

Leaders like Xanana Gusmao and Ramos-Horta think they are stars who will
be stars all the time.

Recently, you initiated a referendum for another election. Why?

I made the suggestion. We will introduce a bill for discussion at the
Parliament. This is constitutional. We cannot just sit and do nothing
until (election year) 2012. We do not recognize the legitimacy of the
government, but above all the situation is very bad, particularly in the
economy, and corruption is everywhere.

Even though we are pushing for an early election, we have to do it
through legal and constitutional means. You cannot really repeat the
2006 scenario, using violence as a tool for political gain. We need to
put an end to this culture of violence, to have peace and a culture of
democracy.

We have been doing campaigns and we go to grassroots meetings, spreading
this message: no more violence. We need to respect our constitution and
our laws.

Ten years after the referendum and seven years after independence, what
is your reflection on East Timor?

Up and down. We started on the right path but had a lot of problems.
People are unaware that development takes time. Combatting poverty
cannot just be done overnight, and we had to face the crisis in 2006.

The mistakes are not of those at the grassroots level, but of the
leadership. Some leaders dream they can do better in a short time, and
that is the reason we really had to face the crisis. Now, we are
regressing, particularly in institution-building as people start to
dismantle everything that had been carefully constructed.

Now, we have to face a lot of problems, such as rampant corruption, for
the simple reason that the system that was built has been really
destroyed by the current government. We got our independence, but we
could have done much better, particularly two or three years afterward
when we got money from oil and gas resources.

How long will East Timor depend on the international community?

The United Nations can stay here for not more than another two years,
but for foreign troops and police, it is time to leave. We needed them
in 2006 when troops and police were in conflict. If you have the army on
one side and police on the other, you cannot do anything.

I invited foreign troops to come, but now there is no longer such
confrontation, so it’s time for them to leave. Some police and army
trainers can stay.

There’s still a long way to go in developing this country, yet you have
refused loans from groups such as the International Monetary Fund. Why?

I was always aware that sooner or later we would have revenue from oil
and gas, so what are the loans for? It would only generate corruption. A
state is like a big company. You need to improve the quality of your
administration.

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BBC report on Lack of Justice for victims of the occupation

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2009/08/090827_amnestytimor_wt_ah.shtml

The Ones Before Me

Written by: Lukeno Alkatiri

With the contribution of: Low Heng Boon

20th August 2009

This piece is dedicated to the historical FALINTIL for their struggle
and sacrifice. I dedicate it to all the men that were part of it. I
dedicate it especially to FALINTIL’s founders (Nicolau Lobato, Mau
Lear, Alarico Fernandes and others), including the only living founder:
my father, Mari Alkatiri.

As I travel on the back of the crocodile land, I follow the path you
left behind representing your beautiful and courageous struggle. I walk
with it or behind it but never in front of it. For, unlike some, I
cannot bear the idea of giving my back to story and history you have
left us. I try to understand the source of your strength during the
years you were locked away from the rest of the world, a world that
took its time to come your rescue and now forgets who you were and what
you have become.

I follow your tear drops and your drops of blood that many times fed
this soil. They are still here, resisting and not allowing themselves
to dry. I notice that each drop unlocks the narration of a beautiful
tale. Your tale, therefore, our tale. Tales of sacrifice, of
desperation, and most importantly, drops of blood and tears that
provide evidence of the trail traced by your dreams and your beliefs.

On this journey I also follow the sound of your scream that still
echoes from the top of these mountains. So many times you screamed,
hoping that someone would hear you and put an end to the madness of
your enemies. So many times they ignored you, deluding themselves to
think that your screams would one day surrender to silence.

Little did they know that it was their own silence that would one day
break. The bullet shells that are still left untouched on the sites of
your battles represent the existence of a cause. Next to them are some
of the bodies you left behind. Your own. However lifeless you left them
and regardless of the mutilation you suffered by the horror of
witnessing their last breath, you assured that their self-sacrifice
would keep our ideals alive. They represent the countless times you
were forced to suppress the sadness and the mourning for your loss in
order to leave them but always remembering that you owe them your
continued existence.

Before I started this never-ending journey, people told me about you.
They told me that you were fighting, hurting but keeping yourself
relentlessly alive for us. For this reason I decided to follow your
path, to hear your scream and to let the trail your tears and blood
guide me to the place where you have become forever our hero. I will
catch the shells of the bullets that pierced through your flesh and
show them to the world. I will lie down next to the bodies you left
behind and I will let them tell me the stories of your battles. They
will tell me their names so that I make sure they will never be
forgotten. And after I thank them for their sacrifice, they will teach
me how to face the future battles of the struggle that is far from
over. And I will learn, from these everlasting souls, how to tear,
bleed and scream, when it is my time to continue tracing the trail.

Tough 10 years for East Timor

The Age

Tough 10 years for East Timor

Lindsay Murdoch, Dili

August 22, 2009

THE first time I saw Pedro, he had just poked his
head into the world as gunfire was echoing around
the United Nations compound in Dili.

It was at 3.15am, probably the darkest hour of
six long nights we spent huddled together as
pro-Indonesia militias looted, raped and killed on Dili’s streets.

I was dozing two metres away on a concrete floor.

Pedro didn’t cry very much and his mother, Joanna
Remejio, muffled the pain of her third child’s birth, so I never woke.

Instead of opening my eyes to see killers over
the razor-wire fence, as I had feared, I saw a
beaming Mrs Remejio nursing her newborn son on a piece of cardboard.

”I am very happy my baby is alive,” she told me.

That was September 7, 1999, eight days after the
East Timorese defied violence and intimidation to
vote for a break away from Indonesia,
precipitating a wave of bloodshed that left 1500
Timorese dead and most of the former Portuguese territory destroyed.

As East Timor prepares to mark the 10th
anniversary of that August 30 vote next weekend,
I find Pedro in a poor suburb of Dili, where his
mother, like most Timorese mothers, struggles to
feed and educate him and four other children aged between five and 15.

Pedro is short, skinny and blind in one eye,
having suffered a shocking head injury when
somebody threw a rock at him two years ago.

He has a shy smile.

”I want to be the health minister,” he says,
when I ask what he wants to do later in life.

Mrs Remejio, 36, is happy we have come to see her
and Pedro, as she has heard that Ian Martin, the
former UN head in East Timor, is returning to
Dili for the anniversary and she wants help to give him a present.

She also asks if Jesuit priest Peter Hosking, of
Melbourne, is returning, as he baptised Pedro three hours after his
birth.

”Father Hosking is a very kind man. I would like
him to bless Pedro again,” she says.

At Mrs Remejio’s insistence, Father Hosking gave
Pedro the middle name Unamet, the acronym for the
UN mission that made it possible for 900,000 East
Timorese to win their freedom.

”A white doctor who was in the compound
suggested the name and I thought it a great idea
in recognition of the UN saving our lives,” she says.

Mrs Remejio was heavily pregnant when she ran
with her husband and two children to the besieged
UN compound while militia were rampaging

through the streets on September 4, 1999.

They were refused entry.

When militia appeared to open fire on people who
were screaming at UN personnel to be allowed into
the compound, she and scores of others climbed
the fence, pulled themselves over razor wire and jumped to the ground
inside.

Many were cut and bruised.

”We were petrified. We believed they were going
to shoot us all. I believed climbing the fence
was the only way to save my baby,” Ms Remejio says.

Television footage of women and children
scrambling and being pushed over the wire shocked
the world and forced the UN to open the gates to 2000 refugees.

Pedro was born days later in a makeshift clinic
where a couple of doctors worked around the clock in primitive
conditions.

Mrs Remejio has struggled to bring up Pedro and
her other children, just as East Timor has
struggled to develop in the past 10 years.

She says there have been good and bad times since
the euphoria of the independence vote. Five years
ago, Mrs Remejio’s husband abandoned his family,
leaving them with nothing. Since then she has run
a small carpentry business on her own, as well as caring for the
children.

”It’s very hard to make a living now … a lot
harder than a few years ago, because many
Indonesians have come back here to start up similar businesses,” she
says.

In 2006, she was forced to flee Dili amid violent
upheaval and spent six months in a refugee camp
in Baucau, East Timor’s second largest city.

When she returned to Dili, the business and her
small, corrugated iron home – where she and her
five children live in one tiny room – had been
looted. ”We had to start all over again,” she says.

Mrs Remejio has twice sent letters to the UN,
pleading for help to care for and educate Pedro. She has not received a
reply.

Mrs Remejio says Mr Martin promised her in 1999
that Pedro would receive a special card that would help with his
upbringing.

”I never got one amid the chaos of the time.”

Mrs Remejio says that Pedro’s damaged eye needs
to be assessed, in case sight can be restored,
but she has no money for a doctor.

She struggles to find the money to send him to school.

”Life is very hard,” she says. ”I hope my
country can grow better. I want a better life for my children.”

Readers wishing to help families in East Timor
can contact the Bairo Pite Clinic at bairopiteclinic.org