Monthly Archives: May 2010

ETAN Urges Respect for Right to Protest in Timor-Leste

Contact John M. Miller, National Coordinator, +1/718-596-7668

July 10 – The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) is
deeply disturbed by heavy-handed police actions — including the use
of tear gas and large numbers of arrests — against nonviolent
student demonstrators in Dili this week. We urge Timor-Leste
authorities to fully respect the right of peaceful protest and to
immediately release everyone arrested for peacefully expressing their
views. Police procedures and training should be reviewed so that
similar over-reactions do not take place in the future.

The right to assemble and peacefully-protest government policy is
enshrined in Timor-Leste’ s constitution and in the human rights
treaties that Timor-Leste ratified upon becoming independent. The
struggle to achieve these rights, and their exercise by people around
the world, were fundamental to Timor’s independence struggle.

The police action appears to be based on the flawed law on
demonstrations and assembly, which bars demonstrations in public
places within 100 meters of official buildings and other listed
locations. The main building of the National University of
Timor-Leste is directly across the street from the National
Parliament, less than 100m away.

When the demonstration and assembly law was drafted in 2005, many
argued that the distance limit (originally set at 500 m) was an
arbitrary, excessive limitation on the Constitutional right to free
speech. The 100-meter limit in the law must be removed. In the
meantime, the right of students to peacefully assemble on their
campus must be respected.

The actions of the police raise questions about whether the
international training instituted after the 2006 crisis has increased
the PNTL’s understanding of its role in protecting human rights or
how to respect them?

The government of Timor-Leste has a constitutional and international
legal obligation to protect freedom of expression, not limit it. The
government and the PNTL must carry out this obligation whether or not
they agree with what is being expressed.

ETAN is concerned that the focus of the student demonstrations — a
122% increase in government expenditures as a mid-year “budget
adjustment” — has serious implications which have not been debated
widely in Timor-Leste. We support the students in bringing this issue
to public attention, and encourage all East Timorese and others
concerned about the country to be vigilant in helping Timor-Leste
avoid falling into the “resource curse” that engulfs nearly all
low-income, petroleum-dependent countries.

ETAN advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for
Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Indonesia. For more information, see
http://www.etan.org.

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Offshore processing worth billions to NT

http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/05/12/146821_nt-business.html

NT News

Offshore processing worth billions to NT

NICK CALACOURAS

May 12th, 2010

ENERGY giant Woodside has told Northern Territory leaders its off-shore
gas processing platform will lead to billions of dollars of investment
in Darwin.

And Woodside boss Don Voelte has issued a subtle threat to East Timor if
the tiny nation tries to pull out of a multibillion-dollar international
agreement.

East Timor was competing with Darwin to process the LNG from the Greater
Sunrise field – but Woodside decided on a cheaper third option to build
an experimental floating platform.

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmo has threatened to sink the entire
development in response.

But Woodside chief executive Don Voelte said East Timor could not
legally back out of the deal.

“They cannot walk away from it.”

Mr Voelte said the developing country would be breaking a treaty it
signed two and a half years ago – which would hurt its ability to deal
with the United States, the European Union or any other international
body.

“It will do them a lot of damage … But we’ll win it on the merits of
the program.” he said.

Mr Voelte said the floating platform would offer billions of dollars
worth of construction to businesses in Darwin and Dili.

He said it would be a “country building” project for East Timor and
would lead to billions of dollars of investment in Darwin.

“So here you have a project which is going to be billions and billions
and billions of dollars and the nearest and closest existing (industry)
capable of handling that is right here in Darwin,” he said.

Chief Minister Paul Henderson discussed opportunities for the
Territory’s involvement in the project with Mr Voelte last week.

Woodside was unable to make any concrete offers, but promised there
would be “significant” economic and job opportunities.

Mr Henderson said he was not concerned that off-shore processing
facilities could hurt the Territory’s economy in the future.

“I am a realist. I have to be as realist as the Chief Minister. Like
King Canute couldn’t hold back the tide, we are going to see more of
these remote fields processed offshore. That’s the reality of where the
technology is heading,” he said.

Floating processing facilities could be used to develop smaller fields
north of Darwin that were not financially viable previously.

Timor takes Sunrise case to ASX

http://www.smh.com.au/business/timor-takes-sunrise-case-to-asx-20100512-uy5g.html

Timor takes Sunrise case to ASX

<http://www.theage.com.au >The Age

LINDSAY MURDOCH

May 13, 2010

THE East Timorese government has complained to the ASX about Woodside’s announcement that it plans to build a floating liquefied natural gas platform above the multibillion-dollar Greater Sunrise field in the Timor Sea.

A briefing prepared for East Timor’s parliament says that in a letter to the ASX, the government has accused Woodside of not providing the public and press with accurate information about the status of the project.

The letter says statements by Woodside have ”the potential to mislead the market as to the true position with regard to the development of the Greater Sunrise project”.

It says the statements ”may have an impact upon the way in which Woodside is perceived by the market and thus [have] an impact upon its share price”.

The letter reiterates demands by East Timor’s leaders that the Woodside-led consortium build a pipeline to a processing plant on their country’s south coast.

Amid growing acrimony over the project, the leaders have said repeatedly they would not approve either a floating platform or piping the gas to an existing plant in Darwin, which the consortium also considered.

The letter says the government’s stand had been made ”patently apparent to Woodside”. It also says it is clear from a number of recent press releases, and other releases of information, that “Woodside has ignored the government’s position”.

In the letter, East Timor asks the ASX to instruct Woodside to correct statements the company made about Greater Sunrise in its 2009 annual report, market statements and statements made at the company’s annual general meeting on April 30.

Those statements ”clearly give the public and investors the impression that a decision on the development of the Greater Sunrise field is imminent and that it is Woodside and its joint-venture partners that have the final say as to how the development should proceed”.

The letter says Woodside’s statements had failed to acknowledge that the ”Greater Sunrise fields cannot be developed” without East Timor’s consent.

The letter asks Woodside to inform the ASX and the public within seven days ”as to the true position with regard to the development of the Greater Sunrise field”.

It says this includes that negotiations on development of the field are ongoing with relevant authorities in East Timor, and that ”no decisions will be made regarding the development of the field until such a time as all necessary mechanisms for negotiation and discussion of issues relating to the project have been concluded”.

East Timor asks for confirmation that Woodside would make no further releases that fail to acknowledge that East Timor has indicated it will not agree to any development of the field unless a pipeline is built from the field to East Timor.

Woodside chief executive officer Don Voelte told journalists last week – after East Timor’s Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, refused to meet him in Dili – that East Timor could not walk away from the Greater Sunrise agreement it signed only 2½ years ago.

Still sensitive after 35 years

HAMISH McDONALD

Sydney Morning Herald, 8 May 2010.

After the debacle of “sexed-up” intelligence and misleading
statements to legislatures by George Bush’s administration and allied
governments as they decided to invade Iraq, the use of “national
security” to block public scrutiny of such decisions is not accepted
as readily as it was.

How much more so when defence and intelligence agencies use the same
excuse to stop disclosure of the information that backed vital
government decisions on foreign policy and the safety of Australian
citizens 35 years ago?

An interesting test comes up later this month when a Canberra
academic takes on the Defence Department at the Administrative
Appeals Tribunal to get a series of secret intelligence bulletins put
out by its analysts at the height of the East Timor crisis from
October to December 1975, covering Indonesia’s invasion of the then
abandoned Portuguese colony.

Clinton Fernandes, a senior lecturer in international relations at
the University of NSW, has been seeking freedom of information access
to some 41 documents, mostly the “situation reports” produced for
limited circulation by the department’s then Office of Current
Intelligence, an outfit since transferred to the Office of National
Assessments under the prime minister.

These reports were the boiled-down versions of intelligence coming
into Canberra overnight about crises, printed up inside the office,
and sent out to a select list of “customers” cleared to read
documents classified top secret.

The department sent Fernandes some reports, with only the titles
showing and the contents entirely blacked out, resembling a
particularly sombre Mark Rothko “colour field” painting.

Fernandes has pursued his request doggedly, most recently turning up
solo to a table of five government officials and lawyers. Now it’s
heading into the tribunal, a quasi-judicial body that is the final
administrative and relatively low-cost stop before it gets into the
courts, where the loser-pays system risks an unsuccessful appellant
facing legal costs running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Through the Australian government solicitor, acting for the National
Archives of Australia, the government is seeking to block access to
the contents of some 40 situation reports from that period, most on
the grounds that they contain information, the disclosure of which
“could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the security,
defence or international relations of the Commonwealth”. A couple of
them are also deemed sensitive because they contain information sent
as secret by foreign governments.

Not only is it seeking to block disclosure to avoid “exceptionally
grave harm to national security”, the government is also seeking to
have the tribunal hearing held in camera, on the grounds that even
arguing why the documents are so sensitive would disclose some of the
contents. This, remember, is about things that happened in 1975.

Fernandes, a former army major and Indonesia specialist, was the key
Australian-based intelligence officer for the army during the later
East Timor crisis of 1999. He can be expected to know what is
relevant to national security now, as opposed to keeping inconvenient
history out of sight.

The situation reports are unlikely to contain any shocks, such as
revelations of prior knowledge that might pertain to the Balibo
killings. But they would have contained a wealth of detail about the
Indonesian units and personalities involved in the semi-covert
campaign in October-early December, then the outright attack on Dili
on December 7, 1975 and its vicious aftermath.

Would it be this detail, including perhaps the identity of those who
executed Australian citizen Roger East and Timorese civilians in Dili
on December 8, that the government is unwilling to disclose, on the
grounds it would harm “international relations” – even with a greatly
transformed Indonesia?

The other grounds could be protection of the methods by which the
information was collected, especially if it came from intelligence
agents or by interception and decryption of Indonesian communications.

Yet even by the time these events were happening, Indonesia’s
military communications, based on high-frequency radio transmissions
and encryption by an electro-mechanical machine similar to the Enigma
devices of World War II, were obsolete.

An Australian-born British scientist, James Ellis, and his
colleagues at Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, had
already made what’s been called the 20th century’s greatest
breakthrough in encryption, called public-key cryptography, whereby
messages are covered by a mathematical “noise” of such complexity as
to require decades of computer number-crunching to break open.

American scientists and mathematicians at Stanford and MIT came out
with a similar discovery a bit later, and published their findings in
the journal Scientific American in August 1977. Defence departments
around the world still using wartime-vintage encryption such as
Indonesia’s Hagelin-type machines would have realised an era was
over. There is a huge amount of published academic material on how to
break their product.

The Indonesian military was well aware its communications were
monitored. In any case, the situation reports would have blurred the
sources of the information they contain.

At the tribunal hearing, the government lawyers will no doubt
produce a string of senior intelligence officials to argue against
disclosure. Fernandes will represent himself. The issue cries out for
more independent assessment of the actual national security risk, at
the very least, by the inspector-general of intelligence and security.

The Defence Minister, John Faulkner, has the power to override his
department on this. Before taking up the job last year, he was the
Rudd government’s special minister of state charged with delivering a
new freedom of information regime based on a “culture of
pro-disclosure”. Have his officials even told him about this case?

TIMOR POLICE HARASS FREEDOM FIGHTER: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOG TO INVESTIGATE

FRETILIN

COMMUNIQUE

Dili, 7 May 2010

The man in the photo attached is 59 year old Afonso Dos Reis (nome de
guere “FRELIMO”) lives in Uatolari, Viqueque (a truly gentle man like
him I have not met). He is a rural dweller, who also happens to be a
well known ex-combatant of the National Liberation Struggle, after
serving decades in the mountains fighting for our national
independence. He first joined the liberation struggle in 1974 and
continued till 1999.

He is a FRETILIN member and member of the Utolari Sub-district
Political Committee of FRETILIN.

On the morning of 1 May 2010, he arrived at the designated place and
was awaiting for the so called “public consultation” by the de facto
Prime Minister, whom he served for a period as a body guard in the
early 1980’s.

At approximately 10am on that morning, he was accosted by a number of
UIR Unit of PNTL (Timor-Leste national Police) based in Uatolari and
was publicly accused of being drunk. Afonso FRELIMO informed them
that it was impossible as he had not been drinking. The UIR/PNTL
officer then then said, “you are the man who has called Xanana a
lier! You have to leave this place.” At the time, Afonso FRELIMO was
lawfully standing in a public place where the meeting was to take place.

He was abruptly told by the UIR/PNTL officer, “You cannot be here.
You have to go!” He replied, ‘Why? I am here lawfully. Why do I have
to go?” They then grabbed him and began to physically usher him away
from the place he was standing. he did not at any time resist. He
asked if he could go home as he had his fields to attend to if he
could not stay there. They informed him that he would have to go to
the Police Station. At the Police Station he was told by the deputy
post commander, named Moises, that he had been “arrested” as a result
of a misunderstanding but that he would nonetheless have to remain
until the PNTL post commander retuned and that he could not leave. he
was also informed that the UIR team had suspected him because of a
manila folder containing information he had in his possession. He
says there were many people there waiting with him who had manila folders.

Afonso FRELIMO says he was detained by the PNTL at the station
because despite insisting that he be allowed to return home, he was
told bythe deputy commander of the PNTL post that he could not leave
until the PNTL commander arrived.

He insisted at least on four occasions that he be allowed to leave,
and was told he could not.

The post commander did not arrive until well after 9pm when Afonso
FRELIMO was allowed to leave, because as he was told, because the de
facto PM was no longer there and had retuned to Viqueque town.

Afonso FRELIMO travelled to Dili today to make a formal complaint
with the Provedor (Ombudsman) for Human Rights and Justice requesting
and expecting an investigation into what he regards as his
unjustified detention.

It is appalling that a Timorese citizen who gave his whole selflessly
to fighting for our national liberation was denied, without lawful or
any other reason from exercising his constitutionally guaranteed
right to participate in the political and democratic life of the nation.

He posed no physical danger or any threat or perceivable threat of
such to anyone. especially given the excessive number of heavily
armed police that were present throughout the whole time.

During the week, after FRETILIN raised the matter in the National
Parliament, CNRT MPs defended the PNTl action without being informed,
one being quoted in the national media referring to Afonso as “a
youth who had caused trouble”. Clearly incorrect.

A senior PNTL command officer, Mateus Fernandes, also from the
Viqueque district originally, defended the actions of the PNTL as, as
“there had been action and so the police reacted”, or words to that
effect, whatever that means.

This issue has had extensive national coverage in the Tetun language,
but none in English or any other relevant language. I am hoping
through this bring the story of this very humble and committed
nationalist to the attention of many as possible.

He personally informed me today that he fears reprisals from those
against whom he formally filed complaints today. It will not be the
first time the security apparatus would act in reprisal against a
complaint being made.

Bringing this to some public attention is my way of ensuring I
support and show solidarity for this fellow Timorese.

PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU DESIRE ANY FURTHER INFORMATION:

Jose A. Fernandes Teixeira
Deputado da Bancada Parlamentar da FRETILIN
Parlamento Nacional da Rep. Dem. de Timor-Leste
Telemovel: +670 728 7080

Member of Parliament – FRETILIN
National Parliament of the
Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Mobile: +670 728 7080

Woodside expects E Timor to buckle over gas field

ABC News

May 7, 2010

By Jane Bardon

Woodside says it expects the East Timorese people will force their
Government to overturn a decision to block Woodside processing gas
from the Greater Sunrise field on a floating platform.

Both East Timor and the Northern Territory had hoped to persuade
Woodside to establish an onshore site in their jurisdictions.

Woodside chief executive, Don Voelte, says the offshore plan will
still be worth $13 billion each to East Timor and Australia.

He does not think the East Timorese Government will carry out its
threat to break an international treaty to block the plan.

“A treaty that was very defined, not done under duress, and done with
much due dilligence and they’re walking away from it now? I dont
think that’s going to work.”

The Territory Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, says other companies
are likely to follow Woodside’s decision to build its processing
plant offshore, instead of on the Australian mainland.

Mr Henderson says the Territory and other mainland jurisdictions have
to accept that it is cheaper to process offshore in many cases.

“We are going to see more and more of these remote fields processed
offshore, that’s the reality of where technology is heading,” he said.

“But there is an upside to this as well: there are many discovered
fields to the north of Darwin that are too small on their own to
support bringing offshore platforms and pipelines to Darwin.”

East Timor accuses Woodside

LINDSAY MURDOCH

May 7, 2010

The regulator of East Timor’s petroleum industry has accused Woodside
of failing to comply with its legal obligations before announcing
plans to build a floating liquefied natural gas platform above the
Greater Sunrise field in the Timor Sea.

In a confidential letter seen by the Herald, the independent National
Petroleum Authority criticised Woodside for failing to give
regulators detailed reports and its findings on all three possible
development plans for the field before deciding on the floating platform.

East Timor’s leaders have repeatedly demanded the gas be piped to a
processing plant in East Timor and say they will approve neither a
floating platform nor piping the gas to Darwin, which the
Woodside-led consortium also considered.

As accusations swirl around the multibillion-dollar joint venture,
the Prime Minister of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, refused to meet
Woodside’s chief executive, Don Voelte, in Dili yesterday, saying he
would not compromise the “integrity” of “negotiation mechanisms”.

About 200 protesters prevented Mr Voelte and representatives of the
other joint venture partners leaving the VIP airport lounge in Dili
for almost two hours yesterday.

After the stand-off, the group was allowed to leave for a meeting
with the President of East Timor, Jose Ramos Horta, who has asked for
briefings on the project. “We wanted Mr Voelte and his party to know
that Timorese demand the gas be piped to East Timor to promote our
economic growth and jobs,” said Vincente Mauboci, the group’s spokesman.

In a confidential letter dated May 4, Mr Gusmao told Mr Voelte he was
surprised by the company’s announcement about a floating platform and
said he was convinced “there must have been a wrongful
interpretation” of the Greater Sunrise agreement.

Comments by Mr Gusmao and other East Timorese political leaders about
Greater Sunrise have fuelled nationalist sentiment in the nation of 1
million people.

Some Timorese believe development of the field should be delayed and
that Dili should not be afraid of walking away from the deal in which
East Timor and Australia would equally share $US40 billion ($44
billion) in revenue.

Seven years after obtaining independence, East Timor is debt free and
has almost $US6 billion of oil and gas revenue invested in the US,
which is increasing by $US100 million each month.

But its institutions lack the capacity to provide the services and
infrastructure needed to lift the majority of Timorese from poverty.

In his letter to Mr Voelte, Mr Gusmao, a former guerilla commander
and revolutionary hero, challenged Woodside’s pledge that building a
floating platform would boost Timorese employment and training skills.

“As far as we know, from 2002 until now there have only been seven
Timorese officers working as trainees in ConocoPhillips,” Mr Gusmao
said, referring to Woodside’s consortium partner.

“This suggests to us that the best we can look forward to under your
concept is having another seven Timorese working with you.”

A document being circulated by people close to the government in Dili
says East Timor should not be a test for new technology needed to
build a floating LNG platform, which would be one of the world’s first.

“No one has managed to take a plant the size of 170 soccer fields
that requires 50,000 metres of concrete and 6400 metric tonnes of
structural steel, then shrink it to 4 per cent of its size and send
it 404 kilometres offshore,” the document says.

East Timor’s leaders have also been angered by comments by the Chief
Minister of the Northern Territory, Paul Henderson, that the
consortium’s floating platform decision had secured Darwin the
“second prize” because the project would be serviced and supplied
from northern Australia.

The NT government had hoped the consortium would pipe the gas to
ConocoPhillips’s existing processing plant in Darwin.

The National Petroleum Authority told Woodside that the regulator
required the company to refrain from making any announcements “which
might cause the public and investors to believe that a decision on
the development of the field is imminent.”